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Discover Autumn Connections

Autumn is always a wonderful time to explore the outdoors.The air is crisp and sharp, the leaves are changing hue and our wildlife is winding down for the year. It’s a time of change when nature’s energies are drawn back to store for the coming winter. In some cases, wildlife is finding places to sleep or develop over winter. While no animal in the UK truly hibernates, some do love a good snooze. For us however the changing seasons mark a different path. For many, the darker nights and change in nature are thought of negatively. With reduced sunlight hours we feel sluggish, blue and sometimes we just can’t be bothered. That’s all natural, it’s perfectly normal that our bodies and mind processes slow down, we too are trying to conserve energy for the coming winter. Us humans tend to think in the short term. Technological advances have made life easier for us in many ways and it has become an constant repeat of now, now, now! But maybe we need to listen to our inner nature’s call and accept

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No Planet B

“Climate action now!” “I’m only wee, leave some Earth for me” “There is no Planet B” On Friday 20th September the Cumbernauld Living Landscape team were proud to join the thousands of children and adults who marched to Glasgow’s George Square as part of the global Climate Strike. It might seem odd to join a climate strike when you work for an environmental organisation, but we knew that we had to add our voices to those of the young people who are leading this inspiring movement. Started by 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, in the past year there have been hundreds of school climate strikes across the globe. The world’s youth are demanding that decision-makers take bolder steps towards tackling the climate crisis and ending the catastrophic biodiversity loss that the world is currently facing. Greta may be the face of the movement but there are countless others taking action alongside her, including here in Scotland. Greta may be the face of the movement but there are countless others taking action alongside her, including here in Scotland. The Natural Connections

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We are recruiting!

Learning Assistant – Creating Natural Connections Project Title: Learning Assistant – Creating Natural Connections Project Status: Part-time, 12 months fixed term Salary: £18,127 pro rata (32 days per annum) Location: Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire Closing date: 12 noon, 4th October 2019 Since 2011, the Cumbernauld Living Landscape partnership has been enhancing, restoring and reconnecting green areas of the town to improve the environment for both people and wildlife. This award-winning partnership is now entering a new phase and needs a Learning Assistant to support its environmental education within local primary schools We are looking for the successful candidate to have the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to motivate, influence and encourage local school children to take a hands-on approach linking in with the major habitats and access works where appropriate, and to improve their school grounds for nature and people alike. Applicants should be educated to HNC/D in a related subject, or have equivalent experience, and hold a first aid certificate or be willing to gain this qualification.  You should also be an excellent organiser and natural communicator with a keen interest

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Where has the summer gone?

Over the summer I’ve had the pleasure of working with around 60 children transitioning from Primary 7 to first year through the brilliant Home School Partnership Officers (worth their weight in gold) at Greenfaulds and St Maurice’s High. The children were out pond dipping, insect hunting, scavenger hunting and making smores or tea in nature reserves in the town, and they loved it. I hope to extend this to the two other high schools in the town next year!   It got me thinking back to when I was just starting high school: the thoughts and feelings that were rushing through my head at the time, and how I learned to cope with it all. With schools starting back this week the students are getting ready for more than just education. For many it is a time of making new friendships. Some will last a lifetime, others fleeting but it is these experiences which shape them up to become the adults of the future. It’s a time for getting lost in new surroundings, learning how to map out the school

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Masterchef goes wild

I held my last workshop of the school year year with St Maurice’s High School last week. This session gave me a chance to observe the change in these incredible young people and to express what I saw to them, as they move on from school towards employment or continued further education. While it was tinged with sadness to see another group coming to an end, I was also filled with pride and admiration for the young people in the group and how far they have come. With the weather behaving, we finally managed to run the outdoor cooking element of the Creating Natural Connections workshops. This is a session which encourages teamwork, listening, independent working and cooperation. It has very dry over the past couple of weeks so we set our fire in small barbecue buckets. We managed to cook sausages, pancakes, marshmallows and – adding a cultural edge from Cyprus – halloumi cheese! I have never been able to get so much cooked before in one session and was amazed to see everyone wolfed down the food in

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From the mouths of babes

I’ve been asked many times if I think that conservation has a future. There are some environmental issues that aren’t always clear cut, and at times it can be difficult to express the benefits of protecting our environment due to background noise. Additional pressures from large companies who lobby politicians to curb environmental protections for the benefit of the economy, often only look at their needs and requirements and not the big picture. Their arguments tend to be one sided without consideration for the negative impact they have on the natural world. And then a young girl speaks up and does the impossible. The whole world is talking about Greta Thunburg. At the age of 15 this young girl decided to hold a strike one Friday afternoon outside the Swedish Parliament to get politicians to listen and take action to mitigate climate change. They are not the only ones listening, this one young girl’s action has created a movement around the world. Arguably, this one young girl has done more in the past few months than any politician or scientist

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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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Funding boost for Creating Natural Connections

As you might recall we were on tenterhooks during December, waiting to hear about the funding from Heritage Lottery Fund for our new initiative, Creating Natural Connections. This is a very exciting four-year project that will lead to huge improvements to our green spaces and connect even more people to nature. It has been a tense couple of months and our nails have been bitten down to the quick. It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that we have been successful in gaining the funding, and that you are going to be hearing much more about Creating Natural Connections over the next four years. To celebrate we have invited people who have been involved with the Cumbernauld Living Landscape since its launch in 2011 to an event tonight at Kingdom City Church. This our small way of saying thank you for having faith in us and for being willing to try something out of the ordinary, but mostly for supporting us and the work we do. Without valued funding, the dedication from our partners, the support of

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Investing in young people, today

Word has been going around the campfire about the great work Cumbernauld Living Landscape has been doing with young people of the town. So much so that we were invited to an event called Investing in Young People; Investing in our Environment by the Central Scotland Green Network Trust. I invited the Achieve students from Greenfaulds High School to come along and we decided to make a day of it with a wee tour of Edinburgh.  We visited Johnston Terrace Garden, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s smallest wildlife reserve, which is hidden away deep in the heart of the Old Town. We learned all about the garden and how important these spaces can be for wildlife and people. We also had a wander down to the Christmas market on Princes Street to see how large spaces can be used for spectacular public events. Needless to say, the funfair grabbed their attention more than my explanation of how parks can be used in lots of different ways to benefit people. I can’t blame them, it was a wonderfully chilly and festive afternoon. We

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Taking time to breathe – how grounding can help combat anxiety

While we are waiting to hear whether Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s planned new project has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, I have been visiting high schools to maintain and build relationships to allow a smooth transition for the new project. Each week I test new ideas which we plan to use in future workshops, and each week I have seen an alarming rise in the number of students having panic attacks on a regular basis. This got me thinking about techniques I could share with students who could then share with family and friends or even use for themselves to combat these episodes, Inspired by the Wild Ways Well project I came across a technique called grounding. This helps people to slow down, distracts from the immediate feelings of anxiety and panic, and helps them gain focus. I also suffer from anxiety at times and I find it best to use this technique outside in fresh air, a woodland works for me as I find that habitat is my safe space and that I like to think of myself