September 14, 2010
I am a 43 year old single mother of two teenage mixed race girls. I am from a white working class background, and although I had a 'career' as a bilingual PA in London prior to becoming a mother; & I ran a small retail business for 4 years (with a baby at the breast & a toddler getting under my feet as I served customers!); I have been unemployed and in receipt of welfare since becoming a lone parent thirteen years ago.
I have trained as a Steiner Waldorf kindergarten teacher, and have worked in a voluntary capacity for an organisation called Forest School Camps for ten years or so. In 2004, I undertook a year's training in 'Bushcraft & Survival Skills' and won the Winston Churchill Fellowship Award which enabled me to travel to USA to spend 8 weeks in Tom Brown Jnr's Tracker School and Jon Young's Wilderness Awareness School. I managed to stretch the Award to enable me to take my daughters with me on that trip.
Since then, I have organised an annual inter-generational community camp for 150 people focussing on living in community on the land, and keeping traditional skills alive. Last year, following the death of my father, I was able to invest in a two week trip by train to Austria and Germany to study Peacemaking from the Haudenosaunee (Irooquois) tradition, again with Jon Young begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting. I was subsequently invited to California to further that training for another fortnight, and thereafter initiated an international training event in the UK, bringing a team of European & American peacemakers together to introduce British outdoor educators to the 8 Shields Wilderness Movement.
I am currently planning to hold two events next year : a women's gathering and an all-singing/all-dancing new community camp, strengthening the bonds of relationship within the generations of my community.
Despite all I have written, I remain without an income beyond Welfare, excluded from 'polite' society and I live in an exclusively white, village location, in a corner of the English countryside where a large proportion of the local population support the Armed Forces despite their sons being seduced into being cannon fodder as Cadets at the age of 13. Although racism is a dirty word nowadays, I am witness to the effects of the day to day institutionalised ignorance and racism upon my daughters as minority brown girls in an education system that continues to whitewash history.