In this reflective blog, creative practitioner and river animateur Eve Mosher writes about gathering stories through the creative engagement programme of the Findhorn Watershed Initiative.
“Went fishing with my dad on my birthday with a stick, some string and a rusty nail…”
One memory, one story, one connection to the River Findhorn. These are the stories we are seeking – to remind people of their connection to the river and to provide better understanding of the work we can do to improve that connection. A story can lead down a multitude of routes and come from a multitude of tributaries. The act of sharing the story is one of generosity and receiving the story holds responsibility.
As we proceeded in our work to animate the work of the Findhorn Watershed Initiative and create opportunities for creative engagement. We set out to meet people where they were and invite them into a story sharing space. I painted a six-metre map of the River and invited folks to make their mark – either with drawings or stories of how they encounter the watershed.
“I ran to the south on a dreich July day — boggy and glorious”
A map, especially one that is on the larger side, has an interesting way of connecting people to place. This map was of the waterways alone – the River Findhorn and its tributaries – with no infrastructure, no normal waymarking. Participants were invited to find their own way around the map. What bends, twists, confluence or diversions did they know well, or how could we help them find their way? Painted in the peaty coloured mix of tea and coffee the map was able to convey the scale and complexity of the watershed.
We joined the festivities at Logie Steading for the Christmas Market. We were hoping to encounter folks in a space where they were already gathered and where we might meet both those already interested in the ongoing work of the Findhorn Watershed Initiative and those who were new to the project entirely. We mixed in with the food, fun and festivities with an invitation to the map and sharing stories. We also offered an exchange, inviting folks to join in mark making they could take home. We brought lots of colours to the cold grey December sky via gel prints – into which we pressed images from the watershed – footprints of the osprey, waves, wind and leaves as well as human footprints, woolly sheep and oars and shapes derived from the river itself. This rainbow of prints was a fun expression of the river and added to the colours of the market.
At these events we were joined by representatives from Findhorn Watershed Initiative who were able to point out and share places on the map, introducing people to the ideas of re-wiggling the river and riparian planting.
“Otter watching, lockdown forest bathing”
Our map has become a myriad of memories shared and stories told. We story collectors are now carrying forward the stories into the work ongoing and will find ways to share out the stories and have them inspire, catalyse and inform our work moving forward.
From here, while we continue to collect stories, memories and ideas, we will also be introducing people to other ways of connecting to the river and its catchment. And I hope you will join us at one of our upcoming activities, whether it is creative writing with Andrea Turner and the Wild Things elder groups walks, creating processional artwork with Rachael MacIntyre in local schools or joining us at an upcoming event near you – Edinkillie Village Hall on 2 March or Fornighty Village Hall on 9 March.
Eve Mosher has taken up the role of Lower Catchment Creative Practitioner and River Animateur to support the community engagement programme of the Findhorn Watershed Initiative. Working at the intersection of climate change and imagination, Eve has a long held practice of working in the context of river catchments and watersheds.
Find out more about the Findhorn Watershed Initiative over on the project page.