Friday, 24 October 2014

Forest Church - Snapshots of Skipton workshop 23 Oct

You may have heard of Forest Church through Bruce Stanley's book, or have come across Forest Schools which are a little bit related. Or you may have taken part in similar activities in the past.
Quoting from his website:
"Many people can describe transcendent moments in nature where they feel deeply connected to something bigger than themselves and Forest Church is a way to explore that connection within community"
I attended a workshop at Skipton on 23 Oct. Here are literally a few snapshots of the day. There is not space to write about everything.

Thirteen of us were able to come. We met at the Baptist Church in Skipton - interesting in itself for me, because this is where the "Food Bank" food that we collect in Settle goes to be sorted before being redistributed.

One person came from Scotland and one from the deep south of England, and everyone else was from Yorkshire - but that still meant a journey of nearly 3 hours for some, (Sheffield), since Yorkshire is such a big county. One man had cycled from Leeds.  A few people work for the Church of England and the Methodist  Church and one for Christian Aid. Others had different backgrounds. We had all dutifully come with hiking boots and waterproofs.

We met at Skitpon Baptist Church.
See how part of the room is used for sorting food for the Food Bank.

We walked up to Skipton Castle Woods.
 At the entrance Bruce stopped. He explained
how it is good to have a special pause/ ritual/
gathering together before entering the area.
While he talked a robin hopped on the wall beside us

Just to prove we were in Skipton Woods.
We were each given 3 coloured pieces of paper
and as we walked we had to look for items that matched the colours.
When we gathered later he explained that we had in our way been "foraging".

We stopped on a promontory next  overlooking some big cliffs with the beds of the rock at a strong angle. I wish I had taken a picture. I would be interested to know more of the geology - it looks complicated on the geological map. So although it looks flat in the following picture, from near where I was standing it was a long way down to the stream below.

We learned about different senses

Culminating in being given some "rose-hip leather" to taste.

 We had lunch back in the church room.(A shared lunch, having been invited to try and bring local food) .The day was a mixture of experiencing some of the activities, - and discussing how you would organise such events, and some of the theory. There are various Forest Church groups and all are different. Some are all Christians, others a mixture of people (Christians, Atheists, Pagans, Druids). The activities will also depend on the interests and experience of the group members, especially the core group.

In the afternoon we set of again, this time up the very long "Short Bank Road" to Skipton Moor / Rombald's Moor.
At the top of the road (entrance to the site) we stopped and had a good discussion about "Reading the Landscape".

"How can you tell the direction if you haven't got a compass and it is cloudy?"

In open land trees will have more branches on the south facing side.
There can be more plants indicative on nutrient enrichment on the north east side or a tree..(e.g. nettles) because sheep and other animals have sheltered here from south westerly winds.
In a town look at the satellite dishes. Most point SE because that is where the main satellite are.

Top of Short Bank Road

The track continued upwards, as a hollaway. 

We stopped an had a tea ceremony.
Nettle, elder and clover tea.

The gritstone wall, I had noticed
was covered with the
filamentous green alga 
(an indicator of nitrogen compounds in the air)
Klebsormidium crenulatum 

and also the nearby tree on the right.
The others were more interested in the tea ceremony 
and maybe the squirrel playing nearby.

We returned to base and had another debrief/ discussion and shared news..

A couple of people had already tried running a Forest Church Meeting.

There is a group in Bradford Soul Space that has Forest Church meeting once a quarter

Since the our workshop, I have learned that there is to be Forest Church meeting based on "Orienteering"  on Wed 29 Oct at Danefield/Otley Chevin.
At a rather extreme end we were told of the Christian Aid 70 Munros Challenge

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Leaflet Part 3: How to write a leaflet so that people will READ it

Back to Part 1  (Intro).
Back to Part 2 : - A leaflet that people will pick up

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
In Part 1 and part 2 of this series I show how I tried to make the leaflet visible enough to make people want to pick it up. But once they open it up, will they read it?

Part 3: How to write a leaflet that people will ...


I took my Biodiversity - sorry, "Saving wildlife" leaflet - to the Lichens workshop at Horton and asked three ladies at Horton Mother's Union to have a look at the different versions.

Yes .. they were very positive and  affirmative in saying the cover should say Saving wildlife rather than Biodiversity, and looked at the cover of the three sample leaflets with interest

But when we opened them .... they looked blank.

Thoroughly blank


One lady said "Oh, it's rather dense."

Huh! they didn't even try to read it!!

No point in arguing.

That's why I had asked them to look at the leaflets.  Back to the drawing board.

I had tried to cram material that I had moved from the front cover into the rest of the leaflet, and, because I had wanted to keep the print as big as possible, I had left very little white space.

Back at the computer again.

I made the print smaller,
the margins slightly wider
and made space between paragraphs. That looked better

Then I relearned how to do "Styles" in Word.

I set all the titles to a new style (I called JUD) - and every time I tried a different version, all the titles got changed simultaneously. Brilliant. I made bullet points and changed them to little arrows/triangles.

How to make and edit a new style in Word 10

With the "Home" menu bar showing at the top,
1. Triple click on the title concerned (or use another way of your choice to highlight it)
Then, either

2. right click to get a list to show, and go down with the pointer to where it says styles , and then a selection of  possible styles will appear


go to the section on the bar at the top and click on a style that you would like

3. Then right click so you will get a list.

4. Go down to "Modify" and left click on that

5. Modify the style if you want to.

6. Save it.

So here are the before and after versions:



Quite a lot better don't you think?

I even added two questions with spaces to write the answers and a little pen to make it more enticing. Interact with the audience.

I took them to the Anglican Church Lunch at Settle today (21 Oct) . (They have good lunches on Tuesdays)

One lady liked the new version best,

..but the second went for the original version -"I haven't brought my glasses". she said, holding the leaflet at near arms length.

Hey ho.
What to do.
Certainly if I wanted to get children to read this - even just to test this out for me I feel I need bigger print.

Maybe print it on A3? - but then the triptych would not fit in a dispenser.

Or rearrange the text and print it on two sheets of A4 and stick them together...

I did not want to cut any more text out.

Suggestions welcome
Come back next week and see what I try.

Back to Part 1  (Intro).
Back to Part 2 : - A leaflet that people will   PICK UP

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lichens of Horton-in-Ribblesdale Churchyard with Mothers Union

Here's Horton in Ribblesdale churchyard, on a sunny day..

Here's Horton, Stainforth and Langcliffe Mothers Union
on 13 October, on not quite such a sunny day inside the church.

Here we are looking at the boundary wall in the north.
You can see we are holding the
"Guide to the Top Twenty lichens of Horton churchyard"
 that I had prepared

Lichen number 1 was on the porch wall.
One member even mentioned this one before I started

Can you see it here? The bright orange one.
I decided to call it "Limestone orange lichen"
 in the absence of any other English name "

Its Latin name is Caloplaca flavescens.
It is a crustose lichen. The edge of the lichen has narrow, pleated lobes
and this feature is referred to as "placodioid".

You'll recognise it again at the stile at the east.

Same view of stile but from a distance.

This gravestone is location number 4 in the guide.
On the top of the stone is "Shiny Brown Shield Lichen",
  Melanelia fuliginosa. Looks as if someone has tried to
remove it from the top of this gravestone in the fairly recent past.
And lower down covering the majority of the stone
is this green filamentous alga "Klebsormidium crenulaturm"
- an indicator of of Nitrogen compounds polluting the air
(and also heavy rainfall and an acid rock substratum).

Klebsormidium crenulatum - "Nuisance Alga"

Do you know this lichen?
(lichen number 3 on the map on the Horton churchyard guide).
There is lots of it on the slaty cliffs  above at
Wharf in Crummackdale 3 miles away.
And lots in the Lake District and North Wales.

Yes, It's Map Lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum

I'm not so sure about this one, seen in the foreground above
and also below:  I think it is the Rusty Shielded Lichen Caloplaca crenularia 

Caloplaca crenularia is a new species for me.
It grows inland and at the seaside.
Later that evening I was delighted to receive
by email from the British Lichen Society
a list of lichens that had been recorded
in this churchyard in 1993 by Don Smith.
He found 46. And Caloplaca crenularia was listed amongst them.

You can see me on the right.
We are admiring the lichens on a gravestone made
of a natural piece of local limestone

Nearby, in the corner  is Anthony Greenbank's gravestone.  It had a variety of lichens including the big white patches of Aspicilia calcarea  and, shown below, "The Fire Dot Lichen ": Caloplaca holocarpa

Fire Dot Lichen

A warm cup of tea is welcome inside afterwards.

One I didn't show them,  as it involved walking
through lumpy grass and then getting down to ground level:  Lecanora campestris  (see below)

Leaflet Part 2: How to write a leaflet that will be irresistible for people to: a) Pick up, b) Read & c) Act on

Back to Part 1  (Intro).

Part 2: How to write a leaflet that people will ...
Pick up

I had my leaflet on biodiversity. 
Called "Biodiversity"
I emailed it to several interested friends.

One suggested calling it "Conserving Biodiversity". He said: "I think it would be good if the title was active (ie we need to do something) rather than passive ( ie we can read it for information or general interest)

One person wasn't keen on the  animal Word-Search - but I LIKED that - word searches are fun.
Along with a sentence about Harlow Carr, Harrogate, hosting the national Rhubarb collection (possibly  not the most vital sentence in World Conservation affairs, I decided  I would leave them in for the moment.  They could be removed in future if I was desperate for space.

But would people REALLY go for a title Biodiversity?

I made four versions of the leaflet and took them to coffee morning.





and biodiversity

I asked seven different people.

It was a really good exercise - I discovered - a chance to discuss the topic in a non-teaching, non-propogandist way. I recommend the exercise.

Only seven people, but I got a 100% rejection of Biodiversity.

Well that was pretty definite.

Two people balked at Conserving. "Sounds like the Conservative Party"
"Sounds like conserving jam"

I had to wait a few minutes before I could interrupt two more people to show them the  leaflets. They were busy discussing their holidays.. one to Africa - to a game reserve where they discussed the stupidity of other tourists there - and were concerned about the effects of tourism on wildlife. 
(Carbon footprint? I wondered - but at least they would have sympathy for the topic of the leaflet)

"Could do with a more lively active picture on the front" said one, referring to the peaceful heron, "maybe an otter".. and then very helpfully:

"But what are you trying to achieve?"

Ah, what am I trying to achieve, beyond a respectable leaflet?, and something that will make them want to pick up the leaflet and read it.

I thought of my advice to a speaker at last weeks' Speakers Club "It is very important close to the beginning of a speech to give the audience a "What's in it for me" - tell them why it is worth their listening to you.

Had I done this for my leaflet?


I would do that. 

And as advised to so often at Speakers Club I would write 3 points (not 2 or 4 ).

And write them big and     LEAVE WHITE SPACE

Here is a picture of an early version  and the latest version of the leaflet so far.. 


 I would take them with me to the Mothers Union Meeting at Horton in Ribblesdale the next day
where I would be the guest speaker leading a workshop on Lichens of Horton churchyard.
What would their comments be?

Come back for Part 3 next week.

Back to Part 1  (Intro).

Forward to Part 3 (Leaflet irresistible to read)

See Green Christian/Christian Ecology Link Website where a "current" version of the leaflet is housed

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Leaflet Part 1: How to write a leaflet that will be irresistible for people to: a) Pick up, b) Read & c) Act on

This is part 1.

Would you like to write a leaflet that people will

  1.   Pick up,
  2.   Read, &
  3.   Act on      ?
I would.. 

and these three articles show my effort to do so.
I hope you enjoy learning from them

I may edit it in future remove some of the glooooooimier parts.. Have to be positive you know. But for the moment here it is at it is.

Are you sitting comfortably? then I will begin

Eons ago, in the mists of time, before most people had personal computers, never mid laptops, tablets or smartphones, a Leaflet on Biodiversity was written for CEL (Christian Ecology Link).

 It was an extra leaflet to be added to those in the the Sustainability Pack  (1994) - a whole set of different coloured A5 leaflets for use in churches on a variety of sustainability topics: orange for Recycling, green for Ethical investment, pink for Sustainable economics, and so on. In those distant days many people had not made the link between their faith and care for the natural world - natural capital that is being lost and will not be available to our grandchildren. (Plus ├ža change..)

The set of leaflets was welcomed in many churches... well, by some churches .. well, by the green activists in a few.

The biodiversity leaflet was updated slightly and you can see one archive version   on CEL's old website.

Fast forward 20 years to to 2014.. by which time another 30% (ish) of the world's biodiversity has gone.

(Forest burnt down, species rich haymeadows reseeded, streams polluted, rivers deoxygenated,  invasive species eating or outcompeting native species, wild animals poached, wetlands drained, genetic variation in potential food crops lost, world population increased 40% by 2 billion,)
This is a chance to promote the CEL Rainforest Fund. Could you help?
We are seeking 100 churches to raise £100 each  for "Habitat Conservation Projects" .. to show that Christians do care about keeping the variety of life or future generations on this planet.(rather than us all living in concrete and eating soya beans and green algal soup.. my pessimistic view of the  future). .. And to show our gratefulness to God (..however we perceive God..) for having created it.

Well, two weeks ago, not quite a church, but with several churches represented within it, Settle Spinning Club has just raised another £35.. in the same week that the Living Planet Report 2014 declared that
"in the last 40 years, the population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half"

"Perhaps," I thought "Perhaps I could write a press release about the £35 that had been raised and link it to the WWF report. (teeny weeny small, I know, I know, I know, but not bad for the little Spinners Group.. What has any other church (that I have heard of) -(that you know of?) done recently?).

"But," I thought, "but, it would be good to have an up to date Biodiversity Leaflet that I could quote - one with with the correct facts about our organisation, its membership subscription fees and, from the 1st Jan next year its new working name "Green Christian".

So   AIM Number 1    was born: :
To produce a new Biodiverstiy Leaflet based on the old one.

It would look respectable and have up to date facts in it (especially our new subscription rate)

It would have its tittle very,very, very high in the front page so that if stacked its name would show above the leaflet in front (See an old display of leaflets:)

There would be a triptych version (A4 folded in 3), because often when I go searching for a place to put leaflets there are only narrow slots available. (An A4 sheet of facts would not be suitable, or legible from a distance.)

So I went ahead and did this.

I had achieved point 0 of this title .. to write a leaflet.
It looked respectable and would  show that the church had a leaflet on biodiversity (whether or not you knew what biodiversity meant)

But how could I make it so that people would actually ......

      ***      PICK -  IT  - UP ????   ***

Read on to Part 2 to find out about audience research to find this out:

Part 2 


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Settle Community Christmas Meal 2014: in St John's Church Hall - all welcome.

I've just been to put the poster up in the Settle Co-op so that people can know it will take place again, and can have it as an option.

Helpers  welcome.
Please book to come on the meal - but we can if necessary accept bookings very late. Please tell friends and acquaintances you know who might appreciate coming.

P.S. Some of us are also planning to organise a New Year's Eve Social and (optional) Watch Night Service on New Year's Eve in the Church Hall.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Settle Spinners raise £35 to add to the £200 they have already given

A big thank you to the Spinning Club that meets at St John's Church Hall on Tuesday afternoon at 1.30pm . They have a jam jar and each week collect loose change for the Rainforest Fund. I went to empty the jam jar for this summer at the end of September and we found they had collected £35...

That represents 1/3 of an acre. i.e. just more than the area of the church hall and car park and garden


Added to the money they have given in the past, it comes to £235

THANK YOU. Every bit counts.

And this was given in the same week that the WWF Living Planet Report 2014 came out - stating that wild animal populations had decreased by over 50% in the last 40 years.

Fifty percent! I recommend looking at the report.

The group welcome now members.

More about the rainforest fund at

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Lichens at Wrynose Pass

Here are some lichens I found on rocks at the summit of Wrynose Pass on 5 Sept 2014
N.B. I am only a beginner and am still waiting for some of these lichens to be checked. Comments welcome.
For scale, my finger nail is just over 1cm wide.. c.11mm

Baeomyces rufus - the scale has 1 mm units

Baeomyces rufus -
Porpidia cinereoatra
Porpidia macrocarpa

Porpidai macrocarpa or Toninia????

Porpidia tuberosa

The next one is tiny - 

Pilophorus strumatica - means Carrying a ball or ball bearing.
The black globe-shaped reproductive body is on a tiny stalk

Pilophorus strumatica seen closer

Pilophorus strumatica  You can see how tiny they are, when you comapre the size of the black balls on the stalks (well not yet grown fully into balls)  with the size of the moss.

Lecanora soralifera

On top of this boulder (bird perch position) is this yellow lichen:

Candelariella coralliza
(From Dobson 2005) This is similar to C vitellina but has a thick aereolate thallus with deep cracking and more rounded even-sized and compacted granules.. Habitat: uncommon on acid rocks that form well-lit, often isolated bird perching sites) 

Also on this rock was Parmeilia saxatilis

And Lasallia pustulata - Rock tripe

Lasallia pustulata - Rock tripe

Some of the rock had the filamentous alga Klebsormidium crenulatum

Tremolechia atrata

Tremolechia atrata

Stereocaulon vesuvianum var nodulosum

Pertusaria corallina
Pseudevernia fufuracea
Pseudevernia fufuracea

Tephromela atra

The lichens below still require some thought.

Miriquidica leucophaea

Miriquidica leucophaea

Thanks to members of the British Lichen Society who introduced me to  me many of these species in the south Lake district in the previous few days.