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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Monday, 23 February 2009

In Search of the Imperial Woodpecker

Once again Martian went of on his travels this time to Mexico to try and find the worlds largest Woodpecker.

He asked me this time to do a single drawing showing all the black/white and red woodpeckers that occur in Mexico as the leaflets used in Cuba did not work for various reasons, so he wanted to try something different this time. In Cuba the leaflets were given out for people to report any sightings as it turned out they reported any woodpecker.

With the single drawing Martian could ask questions directly of those who claimed to have seen the Imperial Woodpecker, he could then determine if there was any substance to their claims.

Sadly (or not) he did not find it.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

In Search of the Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker



Some years ago I was asked by my dutch friend Martian Lemmertick to do a drawing of this one of the biggest woodpeckers in the world.

He was off to Cuba to search for this bird which sadly he did not find, as far as I understand the last person to see it some years earlier was Dr Lester Shorts wife, (Dr Short who wrote the monograph on Woodpeckers of the World, did not see it himself).

Who knows maybe one day it will turn up again... Is that a good thing or a bad thing, sometimes it is best we do not find such rare birds etc as we tend to ruin things even with the best will in the world.

A good friend of mine (Richard) told me that he saw this picture on the front of a menu card in Woody's Restaurant in Corfu... nice compliment but I think Woody's owes me a couple of meals as he did not ask me if it was ok to use my picture.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

A Fire for You

On this, the shortest day of the year,
I have journeyed to the Great Plains
to build a fire for you.

The night air is cold like a cellar
cut from ancient stones.

But I found some wood among the deserted plains
buried under the grasses and dirt, hidden away like

leaves that had become the soil.

After I cleaned the wood by hand its dirt beneath
my nails and the fabric of my cloth I sent a flame combusted

by the mere thought of you and the wood became fire.

There were hermit stars that gathered
overhead to keep me company.
Your spirit was there as well
amidst the fire's flames.

We laughed at the deep meaning of the sky
and its spacious ways.

Marvelling at the flat mirror of the plain
that sends so little skyward,
like the hearts of children denied
a certain kind of love.

You played with spirits
when you were young among these fields.
You didn't know their names then.

I was one.
Even without a name, or body,
I watched your gaze, unrelenting to the things
that beat between the
two mirrors of the sky and plain.

I believe it was here also
that you learned to speak with God.
Not in so many words as you're now accustomed,
but I'm certain that God listened to your life
and gathered around your fire
for warmth and meaning.

In the deserted plains he found you set apart
from all things missing.

Dear spirit, I have held this vigil for so long,
tending fires whose purpose I have forgotten.
I think warmth was one.

Perhaps light was another.
Perhaps hope was the strongest of these.

If ever I find you around my fire,
built by hands that know your final skin,
between the sheets of the sky and plain,
I will remember its purpose.

In barren fields
that have long been deserted by the hand of man
I will remember.

In the deepest eye of you
I will remember.

In the longest night of you
I will remember.

On this, the shortest day of the year,
I have journeyed to the Great Plains
to build a fire for you.

By Wingmakers

Friday, 13 February 2009

Once again an extract from Simon Crisp’s:

International Models of Best Practice in Wilderness and Adventure Therapy on key terms used within the world on Nature-based Therapy.


Wilderness-adventure Therapy

‘Wilderness-adventure therapy’ can be thought of as distinct from, but related to the previous two types. Here wilderness activities may be done in a short session format, or where a natural (but not necessarily isolated) environment is used for an adventure therapy type of activity. Examples include: rock-climbing or abseiling on natural rock or a caving activity conducted in a real cave, over several hours or within a day. The activity does not extend over night (so there is minimal emphasis on community living), but the activities utilize qualities of the natural environment. For research purposes ‘Wilderness-adventure therapy’ in particular should be differentiated from ‘wilderness therapy’ and from ‘adventure therapy’.


Therapeutic Wilderness Camping

Therapeutic wilderness camping involves long-term residential camping in primitive accommodation in an isolated area (see Gass, 1993, p10). Typically, the isolated setting underscores a model of community living. Emphasis is placed on the development of pro-social relationships through a structured program of behaviourally moderated privileges. It can be distinguished from ‘base camp wilderness therapy’ through its extended time-frame format (usually a minimum of 12-15 months full-time). Additionally, a focus is given to the comfort that comes from individual effort in shaping the environment through hut building, furniture making, etc. The setting also often involves a developed site with permanent fixtures and ancillary buildings and facilities.

Simon Crisp 1996 pages 10 – 11.

Were does Natural Awareness I guess it falls between these categories? Primarily it falls under Wilderness-adventure Therapy unless of course I take people to a remote location in which case it comes under Therapeutic Wilderness Camping.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Here is a further extract from Simon Crisp’s...

International Models of Best Practice in Wilderness and Adventure Therapy on key terms used within the world of Nature-based Therapy.


Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy as a term is frequently used to include, more-or-less, the entire field of wilderness, outdoor and adventure interventions. Other times it refers to specifically short-term, non-wilderness based non-residential approaches such as ropes course and initiative activities. This becomes confusing, and tends to hide important differences in practice and assumptions about therapy.

Here, I define adventure therapy as a therapeutic intervention which uses contrived activities of an experiential, risk taking and challenging nature in the treatment of an individual or group. This is done indoors or within an urban environment (i.e. not isolated from other man-made resources), and does not involve living in an environment (e.g. participants do not cook their own meals or sleep overnight). The emphasis is on the selection and design of the activity to match targeted therapeutic issues and the framing and processing of the activity (Gass, 1995).

Examples of such contrived activities include group trust, initiative and problem solving activities (see Rohnke, 1984, 1991; Rohnke & Butler, 1995), ropes and challenge elements (low and high), indoor climbing gyms, and so on. I would distinguish adventure therapy by its emphasis on the contrived nature of the task, the artificiality of the environment and the structure and parameters of the activity being determined by the therapist, such as setting of rules, goals and criteria for success or failure. Specific outcomes are usually planned and sought for through careful framing prior to the activity.

In practice, adventure therapy typically utilises metaphoric, strategic and solution oriented paradigms (for specific applications see Gass, 1993), and often addressed specified behaviours such as impulsiveness, assertiveness, substance abuse relapse, etc. Theory of change tends to be based around the systemic concept of ‘disequilibrium’ (Nadler & Luckner, 1992).

Simon Crisp 1996. (p.p. 9 - 10).

When I remember…

I said a while back I would talk a bit about the reason why my unit 127 (Dragon) Battery R.A. had to stay on in Kuwait after everyone had pretty much gone home.

The reason we stayed was because the powers to be at the time felt that it was in everyone’s interests for us to remain in the desert as a result of our battle group being attacked by American A10’s, killing nine members of 3RRF. I am not judging anyone here; things happen for a reason this is something I have come to believe in more and more.

One day after the memorial service was held in the desert for the men of 3RRF one of my buddy’s came to my truck, he seemed quite shaken. He asked me if I believed in God. I replied no but I do believe there is more to life than just this existence that we have, in fact at that time my belief was and is firmly rooted in nature and the power of Mother Nature.

I asked him why he asked me this question, his reply was. As we were getting ready for the service (my buddy was one of our observation officers who was forward with 3RRF at the time of the attack) he said the sky was a clear blue not a cloud was to be seen the sand was a lovely golden colour, they then gathered around the padre who was giving the service and as he began the service, a cloud appeared directly above them and it began to rain and it rained non stop until the service ended, then the cloud disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. This left him wondering how this was possible and if there is such a thing as a God.

What has this got to do with me well, as I said I never believed in God why because I grew up in Belfast and have been surrounded by reglion which I do not follow even to this day, and while I understand that works for some it does not work for me.

Upon leaving the army I was challenged by my experiences of Civiy Street as I found it hard at first to adjust. I never prayed and one night leaving the pub I was feeling quite down I felt the real need to scream to the night sky shouting for f@#k sake I need help.

Cutting a very long stroy short, I found my creator as I understand him and my life has transformed completely as a result. Now when I run my workshops I like to use the serenity prayer (which I discovered when working in a 12-step rehab) with own little bit added onto the end. And when I remember to use it, I feel things transpire perfectly and when I forget things still work out but are just a little bit harder, they work out because the intent is there in my heart.

I would like to share this prayer with you.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

And my bit at the end is:

For the good of all and to harm none in the name of unconditional love.

And after my workshops, I also try to remember to thank all those who have helped in our process of self discovery from my creator to the people who have taken part, the trees, animals’ birds, insects, our guides and all that is.