In the UK, the beginning of the COVID19 quarantine coincided with the Spring equinox. In the southern hemisphere, it’s the beginning of Autumn.
At this moment, some 4,000 years ago, Mayans gather to watch a shadowy snake slither across the majestic Pyramid of Kukulkan, celebrating the Return of the Sun Serpent. Pagans and Celts dance in temples designed to light up with the Spring sun. The mythical Persian King Jamshid is victorious over hordes of monstrous animals and captures their treasures and jewels, raising them into the sky to shine like the sun. In Australia, the aborigines begin to carve an emu into the rocks, so they can look up at the sky when its mirror image arrives in the constellations, heralding that the emus will soon start laying eggs.
The human race has celebrated nature as far back as is recorded and it seems all the more important today. Especially as we’re increasingly starting to understand that experiencing the natural world is an essential part of our physical and mental wellbeing.
WildSide in uncertain times
The driving force behind WildSide is to encourage people to keep celebrating and enjoying nature. When we were sat on a beach in Puerto Lopez in Ecuador having just seen humpback whales leaping out of the water, we came up with the idea of a website to provide information about where in the world to see wildlife. We couldn’t have conceived that a year and a half later we’d be confined to our flat in London.
Recently we’ve been trying out something we called GardenWild. The idea is to capture images of wildlife in people’s gardens around the world, to show you don’t need to travel the world to see wildlife. And that it ‘s accessible to anyone – whatever your background or however deep your pockets.
Now we’re adapting that to fit this crazy time we’re living in. So, today we’re launching LocalWild, to help you to connect with nature near to you. Especially during this crisis, but after it too, when we can emerge blinking like newborn fawns into the social world once more.
GOING WILD IN ISOLATION
It’s been sunny in the UK this week, and the birds have been singing loudly (can you hear them better now there are no planes?!). The bees have been buzzing and bashing into our windows. On one of my daily walks, keeping 2 metres apart from all other humans, I sat under a tree and looked at some blossom petals being blown away by the wind. Somehow, the idea that the natural world is carrying on just the same and doing alright makes it all feel a bit more bearable and made me smile.
There are loads of good initiatives trying to celebrate nature going on right now. Through LocalWild we’ll try and highlight some of them. We’ll try and demystify and break down barriers. You don’t need to know anything about what you’re seeing in the local wild, it’s great just to see it! We’ll give you practical examples of how to get involved; we’ll promote tips on how to bring nature to you (sunflower growing competition anyone?!); and we’ll highlight the links between nature and wellbeing (though hopefully you can feel this for yourself). And we want this to be interactive – and for you to send us your photos, ideas, and thoughts.
To start we’ll be doing three things. But we hope and expect that this will continue to change based on your suggestions:
- Camera trapping – First, we’re feeding back from camera traps in gardens across the world. This will help to see what the wildlife on our doorsteps is up to. We have one set up in London and one in the Highlands of Scotland, with more coming in South Africa and Australia. We’re sharing the results on our Instagram every Monday. Stay tuned for more cameras as well as blogs to describe what we’ve seen.
- How to guides – Second, we’ll start publishing blogs about how you can engage with and help the environment around you. Even in quarantine! Whether this is through rewilding your garden; engaging with nature as you jog around the park or go to the shops; or finding ways to connect when you’re in full self-isolation with no access to the outdoors!
- Community – Third, we’ll be linking with what’s already going on and helping to form a community. Starting with the hashtag #LocalWild we want you to send us your sightings, gardening tips, photos, thoughts, ideas, poems, or any of your feelings about the natural world. We’ll see if we can bring everyone together to share what’s around them and makes them smile. Let’s go wild in isolation!
Together we can gather in and raise the jewels of nature so they can shine bright like the sun even through this challenging time!