Tag Archives: new books

Storytelling for a Greener World

I have been involved in this new book and rather than ramble on myself, I’ll use the Press Release to tell you about it!

And you can buy your own copy at: Hawthorn Press


Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought environmental wellbeing to widespread attention, pollution, global warming and animal loss have risen. Despite rising environmental awareness, nature needs more care than ever.

Storytelling for a Greener World explores how storytelling and story-work enable meaningful change. Stories can help us re-connect with each other, with our environment, and ‘to see a world in a grain of sand’. Whether it is a friend describing a skein of geese in evening flight, the tale of the man protected by a tree, or children getting inspired by kittiwakes, such moving stories invite meaning and action.

The crystal clear Introduction explains the core principles and methods of story based learning, with helpful examples. Chapters by some of Britain’s finest storytellers provide a treasury of over 40 engaging stories to retell as well as:

-Clear descriptions of creative story work, activities, approaches and tips.

-Explanations of how storytelling engages people and aids learning about the environment; Analysis of successful story-based sessions.

-Advice on how to choose sustaining stories and develop innovative story work.

The 21 authors include well-known storytellers, academics, environmentalists and facilitators who have pioneered story-based learning in nature reserves, museums, botanic gardens, schools, companies, NGO’s, universities and communities. This authoritative book is an essential resource for anyone using storytelling in their work.

Editors: Alida Gersie, PhD, widely published author on story making for change, initiated and directed postgraduate arts therapies programmes worldwide, advises managers and thought-leaders on how to improve outcomes in health, environmental learning, sustainable development and the arts. Anthony Nanson, ecological storyteller and award-winning author with MA’s in science and creative writing, which he teaches at Bath Spa University. Edward Schieffelin, PhD, Emeritus Reader in Anthropology at UCL, has done research among indigenous people of Papua New Guinea for many years and worked intensely with WWF South Pacific on issues of rainforest destruction. Jon Cree, ecologist and environmental educator, chairs the Forest Schools National Network. Charlene Collinson consults on sustainability and futures thinking with government and business.

Authors: Malcolm Green, Nick Hennessy, Eric Maddern, Gordon MacLellan, Ashley Ramsden, Hugh Lupton, Chris Salisbury, Helen East, David Metcalfe, Chris Holland, Sara Hurley, Mary Medlicott, Martin Shaw, Kelvin Hall, Kevan Manwaring, Fiona Collins and the editors above.

I just loved these personal stories from the front line, teasing out what constitutes good practice both in the design and in the delivery of storytelling … In essence, it is an inspiring toolkit that will enrich the work of people who already use storytelling, and will encourage others to get stuck in. Jonathon Porritt, Foreword 



Storytelling for a Greener World: Environment, Community and Story-Based Learning will be released on 1 May 2014, with a launch at Kings Cross, London. A pre-publication celebration will be held in Stroud, Glouc. on 11 April: talks by Alida Gersie and Jonathon Porritt, who wrote the Foreword





Word on paper and other places

I tend to operate at a gallop most of the time and don’t give myself the time I need – and want – to do more of my own writing and other personal creative pursuits. So, I recognise a degree of envy in recommending to people to go and enjoy these products of other people’s creativity! Never mind! Buy a book, read a poem, visit a blog, regardless of some ol’ toad muttering into his fishtanks!


Three places and ideas to recommend

The Beauty in the Beast

A new book by my lovely hedgehog fried Hugh Warwick. Following A Prickly Affair (his book about a lifetime interest in hedgehogs), he has gone out and talked to people as interested (or as obsessed?) in other animals as he is in urchins. It is a wonderfully unexpected selection of (British) wildlife from solitary bees to otters, dragon flies, and house sparrows to foxes. I’ve hopped in there, too, as an amphibian voice


Book details:

The Beauty in the Beast by Hugh Warwick, ISBN 978-0-85720-395-3

Hugh’s website: www.urchin.info


Caroline Hawkridge

Ona quieter, and dare I say, more elegant note, why not visit Caroline’s site. Poet and delighter-in-wildlife, Caroline writes beautifully and has just launched this site about her work. The site includes “Peregrine” a poem inspired by the falcons nesting on Derby Cathedral and Highly Commended in the 2012 York Open Poetry Competition

caroline has also written about bilberries


And then I did manage to get some writing done! Hoorah! (well I enjoyed it) and then we had to edit the piece down, so I’m going to post the missing paragraphs below. These were the opening sections for a piece for the Summer edition of an on-line magazine, “Native British Spirituality”


“The purpose of this website is to provide a focus of re-connection with these islands – so that we make the land well, and the land makes us well. Our intention is to share our lived experiences of these islands, their cycles and seasons, the elements, sacred places, spirits of place, and native flora & fauna, defining ‘spirituality’ as ‘connection with Spirit’, or ‘alignment with Nature’.”

My piece is on the Air page and originally was due to start:


Bright are the willow tops,

Playful the fish in the lake

The wind whistles over the tops of the branches

Nature is superior to learning”


All of a sudden, “getting out there and connecting with nature” seems to be the thing to do. BBC Wildlife is advocating “52 wild things to do this year”, the National Trust has “50 things to do before you’re 11”. Even staid Natural England is trying to get 1 million children out into the countryside (but not all at once). There is also another strand which turns the need to make connections with nature into an intellectual discussion with debates on “nature deficiency disorders” and the problems of environmental disassociation.


Of course, none of this is new. A lot of us have never stopped “connecting” with the world around us. Simple test: are you still breathing? Connected! Have you stopped breathing? Still connected. Cynicism aside, of course it is good to encourage people to go out, to get out, to enjoy this beautiful world we live in


And it is so easy. Renewing connections doesn’t need trips to National  Trust houses or Natural England Nature Reserves. A garden would do it, or  park or even shut a walk along a street….


As “Creeping Toad” a lot of my work is about celebrating the relationships between people and places and encouraging individuals, groups and communities to explore their connections to  those places around them. We use activities like these, simple light-hearted adventures to invite people to step back into an awareness of the world


(Opening quote from the Red Book of Hergest)


new book: The Wanton Green

Over the last year, I have been one of a team editing a book that has now been released. The Wanton Green is an exciting collection of essays from (mostly) British pagans exploring their relations to places


cover image by Damian Hughes

From the main Press Release:

From the lost magics and holy waters of London to bleak Staffordshire Moorlands; from childhood adventures in Rochdale to faeries in Devon and Cumbria, a new book, The Wanton Green, offers readers a different perspective on landscape


As our relationship with the world unravels and needs to take new form, or maybe to reconnect with an older pattern, The Wanton Green presents a collection of inspiring, provoking and engaging essays by modern pagans talking about their own deep and passionate relationships with the Earth. With contributions from 20 authors that range from Druids to Heathens, from Chaos Magicians to Witches, Shamans and Voudou Mambo, Wanton Green brings voices from the diverse and growing Pagan community of Britain to the environmental debate and promises food for thought and inspiration for the spirit


Contributors include Emma Restall Orr, Runic John, Robert Wallsi, Jenny Blain, Melissa Harrington, Graham Harvey, Maria van Daalen, Susan Greenwood and Susan Cross


Ordering copies

a) direct from me £ 11.99 a copy, + £2.00 P&P for first copy and £1 per copy after that (cheques to Creeping Toad, or I can invoice you – address: 51-d West Rd, Buxton, SK17 6HQ

b) from Mandrake, the publishers

c) through a local bookshop or on-line store



The Wanton Green:

contemporary pagan writings on place

editors: G MacLellan and S Cross


Mandrake Books, Oxford, 2011

ISBN: 978 1  906958 29 9



Chapters and sections include

Personal journeys, intimate connections

Fumbling in the landscape,             Runic John

Finding the space, finding the words, Rufus Harrington

Stone in my bones,                         Sarah Males

A Heathen in place: working with Mugwort, Robert Wallis


By river, well and sea

Wild, wild water,                                     Lou Hart

Facing the waves,                                     Gordon MacLellan

The dragon waters of place: a journey to the source, Susan Greenwood


Exploring – mud on your boots, mud on your hands

Catching the Rainbow Lizard,             Maria van Daalen

The rite to roam,                                     Julian Vayne

Places of Power                                     Jan Fries

Art is natural magic,                         Greg Humphries


Step back and consider

Pagan Ecology: on our perception of nature, ancestry and home, Emma Restall Orr

We have no imagination,             Susan Cross

Crossroads of perception,             Shani Oates


Where are the wild places

Devon, Faeries and Me,                         Woody Fox

Lud’s Church,                                     Gordon MacLellan

Places of spirit and spirits of place: of Fairy and other folk, and my Cumbrian bones.                                    Melissa Harrington

A life in the woods: protest site paganism, Adrian Harris

We first met in the north,             Barry Patterson

The king who sites upon the water, Barry Patterson

The Ballad of the Tyne Plover,             Barry Patterson


Urban wildness

Museum or Mausoleum – A Pagan at play in King Solomon’s House ,                                                             Mogg Morgan

Hills of the ancestors, townscapes of artisans, Jenny Blain

Smoke and mirrors,                         Stephen Grasso

America,                                                Maria van Daalen

Standing at the crossroads: A beginning at the end?

various authors




The Woodlanders

I spent last Saturday (6th November) in Edinburgh at a launch event for the book Woodlanders”.

Compiled by Reforesting Scotland, Woodlanders explores the relationships between people and woodlands through contributions by lots of  people working in and with woodlands.


So we gathered in a city square in Edinburgh an certainly I, at least, was entertaining  fond imaginings of elegant woodlanders regaling each other with their woody tales and chatting languidly with casual passers by, with all relaxing on the lawns in a late autumn afternoon sun……

It rained.

So all the contributors and passers by crowded into the event’s Yurt where we talked and chatted, told stories, recited poems, listened to music and sampled tasty wine from Cairn o’Mhor…and probably had a much more convivial time than an elegance on the grass!