Forestry Skills Share: A Song of Diversity
In September 2023 in a field outside Totnes, the Landworkers Alliance Women and Diverse Genders Group met for their first ever Forestry Skills Share.
40 and more women and diverse gender people met on a field. They brought their pronoun choices, their neurodiversity, their excitement to learn and their desire to share. They smiled across a circle of new faces bonded in expressed intentions.
40 and more women and gender diverse people put up billowing marquees in the wind and camped in rain-soaked grass heaving with spiders and grasshoppers, ground beetles and worms and bathed in the waxing moon. Free.
40 and more women and diverse gender people took chainsaws apart and put them back together. Felled trees and laid hedges. Of course they did. They sharpened hand tools. Demystified power drills and jigsaws, circular saws and angle grinders, heaping up the cut timber and sawdust in laughter. What mystery?
40 and more women and diverse gender people cooked huge pots of vegan delights made from carefully selected, locally grown veg. They drank trad pressed cider and small batch beer. They swam in Celtic rainforest.
40 and more women and diverse gender people shared deep knowledge and experience of saw milling and timber properties, seed growing, tree pruning and silviculture and called themselves Forester, Miller, Joiner. Out loud.
40 and more women and diverse gender people shared music and singing and dancing and raving and the wind howled with them. They threw more straps over the marques and set to work making more tent pegs. Knock them out.
40 and more women and diverse gender people shared stories of exclusion, confidence erosion, micro-aggression, lost for solutions that kept them human, and constant imposter-syndrome driven over-delivering to exhaustion told in tears of frustration and heartfelt relief at the freedom to sit in a field and say it. And heard it said back. Repeatedly. So devastatingly not alone.
40 and more women and diverse gender people hung on to ropes reefing in the tents as the gales built, leaving beer kegs and work benches stood like strange statues.
40 and more women and diverse gender people left transformed, confirmed, reassured, determined, connected, empowered, see them/she/him/her/they/he walk into your work place calm and glowing.
Thank you to Ruth Pybus for her reflection on what was clearly an amazing day!