Kind acts of rescue inspiring care for the land

Capertree Valley planting day. Photo: Virginia Beak, Little Gecko Media

For centuries storytelling has been a constant part of life.

In fact, stories have existed long before recorded history and while the methods may have changed, humans still desire to connect with one another through storytelling.

Stories are a way information can be shared, often reaching places that facts can’t reach, something former ABC Radio documentary maker and storyteller Gretchen Miller is exploring through her PhD studies at the University of New South Wales.

In partnership with Landcare Australia, Gretchen has created the Rescue Project – a website where stories of connection to the environment can be shared.

According to Gretchen, the idea behind to project is to explore the power of citizen storytelling in environment communication.

“In the act of environmental rescue we nurture a tree through drought or restore a place or native animal to health. But this is not a one-way encounter,” Gretchen said.

“In rescuing we too receive something in return. In the act of giving back, there is a quiet emotion we might feel that nourishes ourselves and sometimes whole communities.”

It is these positive feelings of rescue that Gretchen is particularly intrigued by.

“We know that bad environmental news stories have an alienating effect. They make for burnout and compassion fatigue,” she said.

“By sharing positive stories about connecting with our environment the Rescue Project aims to inspire and encourage others especially those who many not be environmentally active or concerned, but who live and work in a close relationship with the natural environment, such as farmers and small town communities.”

For Kate Read, her story of rescue involves her and her son getting their hands dirty, planting hundreds of trees in the ancient Capertree Valley in New South Wales.

Kate describes the experience as restorative.

“Replanting the habitat works its own restorative magic on me. There’s an interconnectedness and a hopefulness to planting trees that reminds me of Jean Giono’s ‘The man who planted trees’, Kate said.

“I like to think of my boy in decades to come, taking his children and grandchildren to see the groves that we planted.”

Once Gretchen has received enough contributions, she plans to create a podcast and audio documentary from the stand-out stories.

“It’s just another storytelling method we can use to connect and share these inspiring experiences,” she said.

  • To read more stories of rescue or contribute your own, visit the Rescue Project’s website Story contributions can be made until 18 December 2018.
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