One of the greatest difficulties we have experienced in introducing wilderness awareness to communities has been the differing perceptions of “wilderness” between the developed and the under developed world. In some areas where nature conservation is yet to become a reality and abject poverty is an everyday fact, wilderness areas are seen to be of no value to the community. Our aim has been to develop awareness of the need to conserve areas for spiritual upliftment, healing and environmental education. Also, these areas serve as a possible source of income through the sale of craft to visitors attracted to the area. In this way the preservation of wild places would be of value to the community.
These workshops have taken place throughout Natal in both rural and peri-urban settings. A relevant question, based on sustainability of natural resources, is asked to the group. Each person writes a response to the question and then depicts their response in a fabric painted square. The diversity of the pieces produced illustrates the different perceptions of environment. In the rural story pieces, participants show that they have very extensive knowledge of their surroundings. This knowledge has been passed down to them through word of mouth and experience. The peri-urban group seem to have lost this knowledge and their stories reflect township life where land is cleared for housing and trees cut down for human use.
The environmental story pieces from these workshops have been made in to wall hangings/quilts, shopping bags and conferences bags and are for sale in our shop!