I have been reflecting on Heritage a lot this month. Heritage can be defined as something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor, something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth or simply, tradition.
As yet another Covid-19 lockdown forces me and mine into this weird isolation and I think about how to fill my time, I have baked and cooked and begun traditional prep of Christmas a lot earlier than I normally would. This is me falling back on family heritage, tapping into inherited ritual and tradition to help me feel anchored at this time of ongoing uncertainty.
I have been teaching online for the past 6 weeks or so. When I think about the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and its affect on this generation I worry about what they’ve inherited. Is it okay to spend this much time “online” to learn, to work, to socialise? While I can see how under these current circumstances it is better to have the technology than not, I do wonder what the long term outcomes of this will be on the emotional wellbeing of this generation.
Probably the biggest regret I have is that I am part of a generation who has left future generations a weary and depleted planet. Not completely broken, I hope, but thinking about heritage in this way keeps me highly motivated to make a change for sustainability in whatever ways I can.
24 September is an annual celebration of South African heritage. As a South African I have been profoundly influenced by my country’s natural and cultural heritage, for good and growth.
In a hopeful step, short term and long term, I have begun preparations to return to South Africa in 2022. I am thrilled to be joining the Rise of the Matriarch Expedition – an all-female adventure across South Africa to raise awareness and funds for the plight of Mama Africa’s wildlife. The ROTM crew will engage with local communities especially children on the human-wildlife issue and distribute Wonderful Wildlife Booklets (that I developed content for). We will connect with anti-poaching groups, visit conservation groups and schools, and meet with incredible women who are doing remarkable things at a grassroots level to assist in conservation efforts.
Ecowarrior and founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust, Carla Geyser, is the expedition leader of the 2022 Rise of the Matriarch Expedition .
In 2016, she led South Africa’s first all-female conservation expedition from Southern Africa to Kenya. They drove 15 787km over 100 days through 10 countries to help stem the tide of poaching. The crew of 13 “she-roes” raised nearly R300 000 for various conservation projects, drew widespread continental attention to elephant poaching crisis, distributed 20 000 conservation educational booklets to children and provided support to 37 wildlife organisations along the way.
In September 2018 she headed out again and lead another all-female crew. This time across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to raise awareness about the contentious human-wildlife conflict. Another very successful Rise of the Matriarch expedition.
I joined Carla on a Journey with Purpose expedition in 2019 for a boots-on-the-ground experience with Elephants Alive. I can’t wait to get back on the road with Carla in her Landy, Dora, next year. #LadyinaLandy
And so, I introduce Pelo Tales. – my Heart Art fundraiser for this expedition.
“Pelo” is heart in Setswana.
My art is an expression of the deeply creative connection I have to pure spaces, to beauty and most especially to Nature. Each painting represents a Heart Moment and so a little Pelo Tale to accompany it.
This is a series of canvases I painted during Covid-19 related lockdowns in 2020. Having to make do with what I had to hand and in the spirit of sustainability, each canvas has been recycled. Perfect in their imperfections and certainly one of a kind.
All the proceeds from the sale of my Heart Art goes towards the Rise of the Matriarch expeditions 2022. More details on the fundraising side of things coming soon.
In the meantime, I will be sharing some Pelo Tales here over the coming weeks in anticipation of wonderful adventures to come and in the spirit of sharing the heritage I am so inexpressibly grateful for 🖤
I had the privilege of hearing him present as the keynote speaker at the Future Schools conference a few years ago. I have such a lasting impression of him not just presenting us with what was wrong in education but emphasising what we could all be doing to make it better. He was profoundly sincere in his advocacy for change at the same time as being incredibly witty – a killer combination!
His book Creative Schools completely transformed my teaching practice. The principles he lays out in this particular book continue to inform the dream projects I am working on in conservation and environmental education. Most particularly where he says that “education is deeply personal”.
His passing is a huge loss to the world. I am deeply grateful to have heard his message. My hope is that I can carry this message for bringing creativity forward and advocating for education reform with me on my journey. If others who were impacted as profoundly by his voice as I was do the same, what a legacy he leaves!
While it seems too soon to lose such a wonderful human being, I am glad he passed peacefully and surrounded by family. I hope they find peace in their grief.
Back to level three lockdown here in Auckland as we grapple with our first outbreak of Covid-19 since flattening the curve.
Another chance to pause and reflect. Another reminder that nothing will be as it was before….
What do you do when you can’t go anywhere or plan your usual travel adventures?….. Relive my weekend just gone… much time on the couch attending a virtual elephant radio collaring project in South Africa followed by a virtual concert also live from South Africa – my favourite band, Prime Circle.
I re-watched the concert today…. So good as always! Prime Circle rocks!
They played one of my most favourite songs – Breathing. Then I remembered lockdown a few months ago…. Listening to that song while painting. The ellie painting in the pic above came out of that session and so I added some of the lyrics to a digital version of the artwork… this version on my visionboard.
So, it turns out a few months ago I was putting creative energy into a moment that would make complete sense in my August is for Elephants 2020.
And now I am reminded that in amongst all this chaos and uncertainty, strangely there is pattern, there is connection… even if it is just to remember to breathe, to let go and be on the journey, guided in the flow.
The universe is unfolding exactly as it should…. Trying to find stillness to tune into the intuitions and nudges of this unfolding and not get in my own way.
I love elephants. These majestic beings know things about living on this earth…. the kinds of things I believe we have lost touch with in our mostly urban pursuits.
I have had the absolute privilege of sharing space with elephants. A couple of whom I have got to know quite well, I flatter myself.
They are as unique in character as we are. They have their good days and their bad just like us…. and I truly believe they have a sense of humour.
The photos above show one such ellie. A charming character who would share our Okavango Delta island a months each year while the marula fruit were around to enjoy. One day a tree came down over our office/storeroom scattering marula fruit throughout the little enclosed courtyard. As afternoon descended he approached the office, low rumbling to let us know he was there. Leaving me no time to vacate the office, he squeezed through a small gap between the buildings making his way into the little courtyard. He proceeded to find every single marula he could on the roof, on the ground, carefully maneuvering around this small enclosed space. After a half hour or so of foraging he made ready to leave through the same gap he had came through. This took him past the open office door where I was sitting quite still, overwhelmed by the moment. I hadn’t noticed the marula that had rolled on to the floor inside the office just a few feet from where I was sitting. He paused his head filling the door space. He lifted his trunk and sniffed, then turning his head slightly he gave a long look. It took probably just a moment but to me it was a MOMENT. Then quite calmly he pushed his whole head through the doorway into the office, reached out his trunk and took the marula fruit near my feet. A sideways movement to get his head back out the door, he took the gap between the buildings and melted into the twilight.
He was surrounded by humans and human structures that entire time. He knew we meant him no harm. He just wanted those delicious marula fruit.
I will remember that incredible moment as long as I live. A treasured memory I hold close.
To me a world without elephants is unthinkable. Unfortunately, they face ongoing challenges sharing a world with humanity.
Luckily I am not the only one who loves elephants. In fact, there is an incredible conservation collective who have dedicated their lives to elephant conservation.
This weekend on Saturday 8 August a first in elephant conservation is taking place – a virtual elephant collaring! From the comfort of your couch you can get a front row seat to experience what happens when elephant are fitted with radio collars to track their movement and gather valuable data to help in their protection and conservation. So exciting! I have booked my ticket! Will you?
Find all the information you need here – Virtual Elephant Collaring – this will let you know who is behind this awe-inspiring project, why it is necessary and how you can be a part of this world first! Get involved!
I don’t think that Carla from the Blue Sky Society, the brains behind this initiative, or Dr Michelle from Elephants Alive planned it this way but World Elephant Day is 12 August! Or perhaps they did. What a fitting way to celebrate all things elephant this year!