Nmimmo Bassey, head of Friends of the Earth International with Nic Seton on the ukulele. Not your typical boring law conference...
by Kate Hodgson

Well done everyone for another truly engaging and thought-provoking wild law weekend!

For those of us convinced of the rightness of wild law, the Great Work we have is to transform ourselves and the rest of humanity
from an exploitative to a benign and mutually enhancing presence on this beautiful planet earth as Thomas Berry sets out.  This weekend we learned and shared, contemplated and argued, laughed at the antics of llamas and gazed in awe at the starry, starry night surrounding us.  Much of the wealth of pleasure and experience this weekend was due to the choice of place: the exchange of ideas in a safe environment such as The Sustainability Centre, on the edge of the South Downs Way and National Park, felt inspirational and comfortable simultaneously.  They had a lot to offer, made us feel at home, fed us deliciously, and have an exciting plan for the future including growing all their own food in their 55 acre site.  It felt good to be there with like-minded people who promote wild law ideas along with permaculture and others.  If their bookshop doesn’t have supplies of Wild Law, and Thomas Berry’s and the Gaia Foundation’s booklets on Earth Jurisprudence then I think we should send them some.

The key to these weekends, and the reason many of us return, however, is the community of followers that has gathered over the years as well as the stimulating speakers. This year we had outstanding speakers from the fields of environmental law, sociology/ ecology/philosophy, oil pollution campaigning, and woodland-culture with huge troves of knowledge, wisdom and experience that they shared with us.  Participants also brought with them many skills and backgrounds and gave unselfishly their views. 

Particularly memorable were the poetry performances; Ben Law’s softly spoken woodsman talk by the blazing logs under his
armadillo roofed wooden room amid the dark sycamores; and Nnimmo Bassey’s open session on corporations arousing passionate contributions from the large number of us attending; - what a beautiful campaigner role model and inspirational Chair of Friends of the Earth International.  Indeed, so was the fun and energy of the Wild Law Ideas Café navigated brilliantly and humorously by Prof. Jane Holder, as well as her hugely informative talk questioning university syllabuses and challenging us to re-write a law degree from a  wild law point of view.  But saving the best till last, Prof. Ted Benton left me burning to find out more of the green political ideas, especially that of an Earth society of beings that is beyond a rights-based society.

But we didn’t just talk!  We are making gradual progress towards becoming a campaigning group.  We discussed how to change ourselves and our world so that nature comes first and we circulated and signed a petition calling for the UN to adopt the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.  It can be found online here http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/yes-to-rights-of-nature/ for those who wanted to sign it online.  Others took on non-human roles, such as eagle or forest in the experiential process which allows us to observe our place in nature and our systemic relationship to other living beings known as Environmental Constellations offered by our kind facilitator Zita Cox. And all enjoyed the wonderful views on our walk led by local rambler activists Valerie and Owen Plunkett.

I and others left Hampshire last weekend with renewed vigour and enthusiasm to answer the question of what is wild law, to get to know better the neighbourhood where we live, both human and natural, to live more sustainably, and get to work on overcoming the contradictions spotted by newcomers.

To sum up, I was nourished splendidly, enjoyed a caring and convivial time, was energised to reread
Wild Law and The Great Work, and motivated to devote more time to getting people talking about wild law and Earth Rights this coming year, and to book early for the 2012 weekend on 21 – 23 September.  Thank you all, especially Louise, Ned and Simon for organising a brilliant weekend, and to Vicki and Alison as ever for the usual care and attention to detail.