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A bug’s eye view of volunteering

We were marching through the woods. The sun bursting through the trees, the cold air sucked into our lungs. My volunteers had entered a new area of Cumbernauld Glen; unveiled before their eyes. In this space they saw what first appeared to be a void; the last vestiges of winter still clinging onto the forest. I prompted them to take a closer look. Spring had already sprung! Snowdrops erupting through the soil with crocuses not far behind, painting a dash of colour across the woodland floor. We investigated the glare of the light and saw a goldfinch dart across. We cupped our ears upward to hear a cacophony of bullfinches, coal tits and robins singing their song. As our eyes slalomed down the trunk of the imperious Scots pine, we saw its delicate tangerine hues embellished by the light. My feet crunched the beech seed casings below my feet.  My volunteers were startled as their feet also crunched these fuzzy little casings. I told them the story of one of our previous Project Officers, who liked munching away on these

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Why are we creating natural connections in Cumbernauld?

Many of you know that I have grown up in Cumbernauld. My family moved out here when I was only seven, and to me the open fields around Westfield were just heaven. I would walk for hours following butterflies and rabbits, exploring the old farm fields, hedgerows and woodlands. Things have changed in so many ways now. I am older for a start, and those green fields and woods have given way to progressive urbanisation. I see deer and foxes occasionally but there are fewer butterflies to chase and no rabbits anymore. What I don’t see is young people exploring the parks and woodlands as I once did. Children’s connections to nature have diminished to the point that we even have a term for it -Nature Deficit Disorder. So… what are we going to do to turn this around? For a start Creating Natural Connections is going back to the primary schools to deliver a new suite of workshops, which will be linked to the major habitat works creating a connection for children to nature and the habitats in their

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Cumbernauld Living Landscape is hiring

Cumbernauld Living Landscape has two exciting opportunities for a Project Manager and a Communications Officer to be part of the next phase of our award winning work. Famous for its 1950’s New Town design, Cumbernauld is home to 52,000 people and a surprising diversity of wildlife. Natural heritage is one of the town’s greatest assets, with woodland, parks and open spaces covering 50% of its area. However, today this natural network is under threat, fragmented and under-appreciated. Working with young people and the local community the project will connect people to the nature on their doorsteps. Biodiversity and access improvements will form the foundation for volunteering and skills development that will unlock community capacity. These activities will inspire more people to care about local heritage and use nature to improve their well being. The relationships developed will create a more sustainable legacy for the town’s green spaces and the many benefits they bring. An experienced project manager is needed to lead the delivery of the multi partner programme, working closely with project staff, community organisations and partners to deliver and

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Wild Ways Well the Movie?

Last week our group had a very different experience. Untypically, the Tuesday group started with a wee drive up to Palacerigg for a film training led by two researchers from the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. Leaving behind the animals in the cold spring we headed towards the very inspiring long houses which mostly look like upside down Viking ship’s hulls. The idea is to introduce groups to participatory videos. These are simply videos that a group can make together to carry out a message. Our training will be run over three Tuesdays for our group and includes two training days and a feedback day. The first afternoon started with an introductory game. We were to tell each other a wildlife story and present it to the other group as a mean of introducing ourselves. We were even allowed to draw it! So we heard encounters with a range of animals from deer, seagull, fox cubs, newts, otter’s scats (easier to draw!) and more!     Then we sat in the theatre to watch a video made by members of

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Putting the Wild in Wild Ways Well

Wild Ways Well. What’s in a name? I’m sure everyone out there will agree that it positively trips off the tongue (you trying saying it a dozen times while giving a presentation and see how long it takes to get tongue tied!), but did we just pick the name because of the snazzy alliteration? Or is – as many people suspect – the Wild part of the Ways Well theme just an excuse I came up with to get myself out of the office as often as possible?  You can’t have Wild Ways Well in a meeting room after all. Could it all just be a cunning plan to let me drink tea outdoors? Alas, I’m not that bright.  If Oxford University are ever to appoint a Professor of Cunning it’s more likely to go to a weasel than it is to go to me. In my last blog I talked about how compassion and social contact were a huge part of what made Wild Ways Well so special.  The shared cup of tea made over a fire is one

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Some Wild Ways Well firsts

It was a busy time for Wild Ways Well last week, with three sessions on the go, I can’t really call it hard work with a clean conscience though, it really just meant more chances to be outside! The first two groups spent their time down in the Glen, having a go at some forest skills and learning about the history of the woodland.  They were two very different sets of people, but I hope everyone came away with the same feeling of love and care for this beautiful, fragile habitat. It was a bit disappointing on our first visit to see a lot of litter had been left by someone in our wee gathering area but we had brought binbags and litterpickers to clean up after ourselves so we were able to sort that – and fill our Give action at the same time! Overall these two sessions in the Glen were about having a bit of fun, we made more chocolate bananas and campfire chocolate oranges, learned about building fires, the legend of the Green Man and challenged

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We invite you to see our unveiled plans

Over the past few months, Cumbernauld Living Landscape has been carrying out a lot of consultations about the towns green spaces and the community groups who use them.  Thank you to everyone who has taken part and helped us to understand your views about the local green spaces in the town. In the background expert consultants have been out looking at the local area identifying breaks in path routes, habitat type, quality of routes and habitats and so much more. All of that information has now come back, and we would show you the list of projects that have come from these consultants and hear from you which projects would have the greatest impact for our community. I am extremely excited to see the list of projects which will help us to access our parks and green spaces better and so for one more time I ask your help and opinion. We have seen the Cumbernauld community spirit come alive during the heavy snow with groups of residents helping to dig out schools and parking areas. There is a craving for people

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Wild Ways Well Returns

Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s Wild Ways Well project is back! Thanks to backing from the Green Infrastructure Fund and Transport Scotland we’ll be offering a brand new programme of walks and conservation activities, and of course the essential cup of tea brewed over an outdoor kettle, throughout 2018. Our free Thursday afternoon sessions are open to anyone who feels they might benefit from spending a few hours in a local wildlife reserve getting back in tune with nature. All Wild Ways Well sessions are structured in the same way. We meet in the town centre and take a gentle walk into one of the surrounding wildlife reserves, taking in the wildlife around us as we go. We stop to make a hot drink and chat over a small fire with an outdoor kettle and then we have a go at a conservation themed activity. Last week we were bird watching and had great views of a male sparrowhawk trying to impress the local ladies on a display flight over the treetops.  We listened out for gold crests and tree creepers and

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Consultation for Cumbernauld Green Route

A new route to improve the link between Abronhill and the town centre through Kildrum and Carbrain is being proposed and the local community are invited to have their say at a special consultation event next month. Cumbernauld Living Landscape and Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT) have been working for the last two years with community partners to develop a detailed, green design for the route, aiming to reconnect the people of Cumbernauld with their natural environment. The green route has been developed to encourage active travel on foot and by bike, especially for people going to school, visiting greenspace and making other local journeys. The consultation will be held on 1 February at the Learning Centre, Cumbernauld YMCA on Afton Road from 1pm to 7.30pm and will display the design of the new route for people to have their say on.     Mike Batley, Development Officer with CSGNT, said: “The proposed improvements will provide much needed developments to these spaces. It will encourage people to walk and cycle and help those who may not have access to a

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Finding our community’s voice

As part of the development phase for our Heritage Lottery Fund supported Creating Natural Connections project I will be spending a lot of time out and about talking to groups, schools and residents in the run up to submitting our final funding application. My aim is to ask you what do you need to help you enjoy your green spaces of parks, woodlands and those bits in between. What are the aspirations you have for your town? Are there any barriers? And if there are barriers, how can we work together to reduce them? Ultimately, I want to find out how we can work together to make Cumbernauld a better place for people and wildlife. We have a wealth of beautiful wild spaces here but it always needs help. We also have a wealth of people with a variety of skills and knowledge who can help create positive change. We’re holding consultations with community groups on Tuesday 23 January from 6:45pm – 9pm, and residents can come along to Cumbernauld Shopping Centre on Wednesday 24 and Saturday 27 January from 11am – 3pm.