We recently launched a new one-day nature festival: Gathering, which will take place on Saturday 17th September. Planning and going live has been extremely exciting for the team here. We spoke to our Project Manager Dom and Gathering Director Ruth about what they seek to achieve with Gathering and why it is so important to them.
Since the start of the Wild Ken Hill project, Dom has led our engagement and advocacy. He explained how Gathering fits into these efforts: “We think we are doing some interesting things with land use, but we never wanted to do it in a silo; we wanted to share our story to have an impact beyond Wild Ken Hill.
“We’ve published thought pieces, shared data, spoken to news programmes, and attended conferences and talks. In 2021 alone, we also welcomed thousands of members of the public and hundreds of farmers and conservationists to Wild Ken Hill”.
“Gathering is the next step on that journey. We hope our programme enthrals and inspires audiences, and that attending Gathering will foster a greater connection with the natural world. For me this connection is key in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change”.
Running a large-scale event is easier said than done, and certainly the team here are busy enough as it is! We were so fortunate to meet Ruth in late 2021. Ruth brings a wealth of experience – Dom explains their chance meeting:
“We were thinking about running an event at Wild Ken Hill when we bumped into Ruth, someone with a deep connection with the natural world and years of events experience – we could scarcely believe it. One thing I have realised since we started the Wild Ken Hill project is that these serendipitous crossing of paths tends to happen more often when you are dedicated to improving the world around you!”.
Ruth has been working on large-scale festivals and events for the last 20 years. In her own words, “it was a hugely rewarding career, however, I had started to burnout. 2021 was a year of huge chance for us with the birth of our second child Oscar, the death of my Mum, and a move to Norfolk after 20 years in London – all against the backdrop of the pandemic”.
“While the start of the year was focused around caring for a new-born, my mum and the move, creatively I had lots of ideas for new projects I wanted to develop, including projects that supported and celebrated the natural world. By the end of 2021 myself and the Wild Ken Hill team had sketched out a plan for a nature festival, and Gathering was born”.
We asked Ruth why ‘Gathering’, and what she is seeking to achieve with the day: “The name was very important to me, especially since we had all had long periods of isolation – coming together in celebration and defence of nature was at the core of the idea and the events identity”.
Regarding the vision for the day, Ruth hopes “Gathering will celebrate the natural world through a series of diverse touchpoints with our speakers including panel discussions, workshops, Q&A, conversations, and readings”.
“Developing Gathering has been quite a humbling experience as week on week exceptional writers, practitioners, and creatives have agreed to join the growing programme. We are covering a huge amount within the one-day festival, and linking back to what we do at Wild Ken Hill”.
“I am drawing on a lifetime spent in the natural world and thinking about the richness of experiences you can have in it. Which for me wouldn’t be complete without a well-being and workshop area where people can connect to the natural world through practices like yoga and creative writing”.
“I am so excited to be directing Gathering. The day is going to be hugely inspiring, with an incredible programme of leading authors, practitioners, and creatives.”
We are thrilled and humbled to have met Ruth along our journey and to be working closely with her to put on this incredible event! Thank you Ruth!
We really hope to see friends of the Wild Ken Hill project and newcomers alike at Gathering in September.
Find out more and book tickets here.