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Community Earth Project (CEP)

The Launch of the Community Earth Project on 21 April at Danby Village Hall combined conservation groups from the North York Moors, Coast and Cleveland with community and arts groups – a delightful merging of cultures and interests. Many people came to share the excitement, intrigued to know about Community Earth Project plans for the future. The Community Earth Project (‘CEP’) is a legacy of the Community Earth Festival of 2023 – a series of over 40 events held in the Esk Valley and East Cleveland to celebrate our extraordinary landscape and alert us to the many threats faced by nature today.

 

The CEP Committee, set up last Autumn to steer the Community Earth Project forward, launched three primary areas of interest – Nature Recovery, Citizen Science and Community Building ­– along with CEP’s flagship ‘ARK’ Nature Recovery project.

Partner organisations brought stalls, activities and amazing demonstrations – including a model to illustrate the flow of a river, interactive wildlife ID, Planet vs. Plastics and seed bombs. A series of short talks in the side room ran throughout the day on diverse topics from farming with nature to butterflies, river health and hedgerow management. One of the excellent outcomes of this event was the opportunity for organisations working locally to meet and share plans for joint strategies – including the North York Moors National Park, Campaign to Protect Rural England, National Park Youth Voice, Yorkshire Rewilding Network, Reclaim Our Sea, Whitby Naturalists, Tees Valley Wildlife, Loftus Accord Walking Group, the North Yorkshire Moors Association, Operation Owl – wildlife crime, and Fraser Hugill representing The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group. Environmental themes inspired much of the arts performances and family activities during the afternoon – including ARK sign-making and painting; biscuit decoration, spinning and slow stitching; music, poetry and singing; and an art installation tracing features and early settlers of the moors. These were organised by Commondale Wool Workshop, 3-Minute Arts CIC, Egton Supper Club, Roots Farm Shop and Esk Valley Camphill Community’s art and wood workshops. Everyone was treated to an excellent lunch provided by members of EVCC.

 

Introducing ARK Nature Recovery and Plans for a Community ARK

 

The Community Earth Project plans to tackle the decline in nature and biodiversity by taking action at grassroots/community level. This is prompted by the failure of Government to stop the decline of biodiversity in the UK (State of Nature Report, 2023).

CEP is encouraging everyone to make a space for nature, whether it’s planting a window box or setting aside half a garden or a field. Each space for nature we create is called an ‘ARK’ or ‘Act of Restorative Kindness’ (after the international ARK movement, https://wearetheark.org). At first our ARKs might stand alone as isolated havens for nature, but the more ARKs we build, the more these spaces will join up, creating nature corridors where wildlife is free to expand and flourish.

CEP is currently seeking land to create a community-owned ARK in the Upper Esk Valley where members of the community will be invited to join in the creation of a peaceful and nature-rich Community Orchard and Forest Garden, with guidance from the National Park, botanists, ecologists and other experts. The community orchard, managed by CEP, will be a location for skills learning, pop-up community events, visits by schools, scouts/guides and disadvantaged groups, and a place for nature appreciation, health and wellbeing. In the future, organisations will be encouraged to take advantage of this community resource for social prescribing and access to nature.

If you missed the Launch event and would like to find out more about the CEP ARK Nature Recovery Project, or you can help identify suitable land for the project, or you would like to join a mailing list for CEP news and events, please email: cep.nature.recovery@gmail.com

See also: Community Earth Project Facebook page

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