I’m the Executive Officer for Tir Coed. We’re a social enterprise and charity that engages people with woodlands through volunteering, education, training and bespoke activities which increase well-being, develop skills and improve woodlands for the benefit of everyone. This means that we’re engaged in a wide variety of projects, services and networks from accredited training to social prescribing, conservation and woodland management to community development and schools. My job is extremely broad and draws on experience in sustainable community development, project management, outdoor activities, volunteering development, research and evaluation, commercial writing, policy, education and fund-raising. Tir Coed is a grassroots organisation, developed locally for disadvantaged people in rural West Wales. After 20 years, we’re keen to share our experience, learn from others, develop commercially and meet new organisations to work with. My studies have included an MA in Critical Theory, a research masters and a PhD from the University of Wales.
Why are you drawn to this area of work?
Being part of positive change is what drives me; seeing communities, groups and individuals develop the resilience to mitigate and withstand the impacts of negative change (e.g. to climate, economy, physical and mental health, resource depletion, species and habitat depletion). Much of what is needed is always already there embedded in communities; for example, the way the farming community shares resources, supports neighbours and local business in remote rural areas; or the way that chapel congregations ensure that people who need support, such as carers, receive it with no thanks expected; and knowledge – e.g. of food growing, preserving, traditional building, land management practices – that can be shared intergenerationally.
I have supported community groups in the following areas from public consultation, through governance, planning, fund-raising, marketing, delivery, reporting and evaluation stages: community transport, community gardens, community walking and cycling, heritage interpretation, heritage building, outdoor exercise/health referral, Slow Food, sustainable community tourism, local branding/marketing, intergenerational exchanges, community care, education and training projects, volunteering projects.
What is your vision of your region in 2050?
Tir Coed’s vision is for thriving and sustainable rural communities integrated with the natural environment.
The path to sustainable change: relocalised, re-energised communities empowered to home-grow solutions which protect the natural world; education in and care for species and habitats; reduced dependence on fossil fuels through the development of renewables and community-supported energy schemes; radically reduced consumption and resistance to the desire to travel cheap, eat cheap and buy cheap – there are no cheap solutions when it costs the earth.
We’ll get there by: working together, learning from the past and our own and others’ successes – and failures; sharing heritage skills and new technologies; through a recognition of the intimate interconnectedness of the natural world with human health and wealth.