When I joined the University of East Anglia, on a master of science in international development and water security, I had left behind me, three years of studying to become a psychotherapist. My psychological interest in the earth, led me there. I wanted to understand humans geopolitical and economic relationship with our planet. After a year of studying, my mind felt more confused and left university not really knowing how I could apply all the knowledge I had gained.
The one certainty I left with was the integral relationship between our psyche and capitalism and the environment and our economy. Ecotherapy is a tool that has the potential to develop a new relationship which can bring together our psyche and our environment and reject aspects of capitalism and the economy. I am not an anti-capitalist, I do however take a political ecology approach to the environment and believe there are many unnecessary inequalities that exist globally. These inequalities need to be acknowledged and understood if we are to resolve the issue of climate change. A political ecologist will question everything and believe nothing. For example, I recently highlighted on Twitter the relationship between the luxury leather business and deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace ensured me they were happy to speak about their climate and agriculture campaigns and confirmed they receive no corporate donations. Another contentious issue is the chocolate industry and the inequality between the amount of money made by the farmers and the amount made by those who import the chocolate into the West. I will explore this further in another post. I am sickened by the divide between the rich and the poor. I am neither rich nor poor, just a humble individual trying to preserve this planet for my grand-children and their children.
I graduated in 2013, since then I have been attempting to reconnect with my earth. I have been a conscientious consumer, purchasing second hand where I can. I’ve thought about the chemicals I use to clean with and I have attempted to not pollute my waste water. I have an allotment which is rich in alluvial soil, here I grow my own vegetables and fruit. I make my own aromatherapy products too which has given me a great sense of connection to my ancient past.
For me, ecotherapy is about discovering aspects of our self through our connection with our natural environment. Trees and their roots, fungi, grass, mountain ranges, plants, flowers, bees, they can all help us to find our self in a chaotic world that sometimes, we have no control over. Being in an ancient forest gives me a space to feel at home in when I am feeling unloved in the world. Stay with me on this journey. I’m not here to make money, just share my experiences of the natural world, my inner self and how I understand the chaotic world we live in.
This photograph was taken on the south side of the river Thames at Greenwich. When it rains, London’s Victorian sewage system floods into the river, sewage ‘n all. The rivers tide will take the raw sewage out to sea eventually, it usually takes around three weeks.
The changing climate means London has received it’s fair share of rain and the EU directive on cleaning our rivers has seen the building of a new mega-structure, deep below ground. The Thames Tunnel, built along side the river Thames will carry London’s overflow, not into the river, instead it will travel to a water treatment plant where the water will be cleaned. The sandy beaches of the river Thames will see people paddling in the water without the danger of disease. Thames water have already said there will be an increase in water bills to help pay for the tunnel. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, almost 20% of Thames Water is owned by foreign investment as well as an array of pension funds from across the globe, including British Telecom. Every time a Londoner now turns on the tap, those baby boomers who lunch will have another round of golf on a glass of water which is supposed to be a human right.
This picture was taken from under the river Thames. We stand in a Victorian tunnel that once transported people from Greenwich in south-east London to Millwall on the Isle of dogs (docklands), on the east side. My paternal great, great grand-father spent his working life in the docks as a tea blender while my maternal grand father spent his time there supporting Millwall football club. The shadow lurking behind is the shadow, according to Jung, that we all possess. The unacknowledged darkness will eventually project it’s way into our society, usually through violence and man’s inhumanity to man. London in 2015 is not the London I grew with as a child. Homelessness makes me feel powerless and I’ve noticed the rich, privileged and grammar school educated get the best jobs and the divide between the rich and the poor appears to be widening.
This is where my photography journey began. My dad belonged to the team of professionals who regenerated Deptford in the early 1990’s. It’s his photo really because he was the one who encouraged me to climb to the top of one of Deptford’s many high rises. With my hard hat in tow and the wind blowing vigourously in my face we both climbed in the builders lift together.
My photography tutor at Goldsmiths College introduced me to the term ‘thatcher’s needle’. It was an appropriate term, seen as my dad was a socialist and I can proudly say we had a picture of Lenin in the hallway of our family home in Forest Hill.
Little did I know this would be the last home he lived in (depicted in the far right cluster of homes, ironically). He died in Kenya on Sunday 17th November 2013 and this photo is in his memory. This is when he was the dad I loved and cherished and before the life he chose, that broke him.
I took this photo on my way back from Greenpeace Lobbyist training. This really is Angel underground station and sometimes I feel like I’m an angel underground. I was once compared to the trickster, who in psychotherapy, teaches us something about our inner self that we did not know. The trickster encourages us to strip away our pretensions and run naked through the forest. The trickster will encourage the death of the self but encourage an awakening at the same time. I enjoyed challenging the superficiality of my group of fellow students and I’d like to think that some learned something about themselves that they were previously unaware of.
I took this on the disused railway of mid Norfolk, near a hamlet called Worthing, where I once lived. Set in the middle of an agricultural farm we was truly connected to nature. The river Wensum flowed across the field from where we lived and the fields hosted an array of crops from sugar beat, wheat, corn and rapeseed. Owls regularly visited our garden and we spent many evenings watching the bats as they swooped around the garden catching bugs, grubs and anything else they could find.
We could hear beyond the milkyway and see the silence of the forest as it shrouded us with a great sense of peace and tranquillity. It is a fondness I will cherish forever and I hope I eased my children’s inner selves with a connection to nature that will always sit deep within them, nurturing their unconscious.