Joining Special Branch

I admit it, the name lured me in. Do you want to be part of Special Branch? Yes, yes I do.  So here we are at the start of a whole new adventure.

This summer I put down a number of volunteering things I’d been doing, because they weren’t working – all kinds of reasons. Volunteering is like any relationship; you rock up all shiny eyed and excited at the beginning. Sometimes you fall out of love with them. Sometimes you change, they change, you grow apart, your needs change, their ideas… sometimes there are personality clashes. And that’s fine, because it’s human and real and it can be gently put down and life goes on.

Service is important to me. Volunteering has always been a part of my life. Not volunteering hasn’t felt good, although I needed time to draw breath and figure out how to move forward, with so many things going so wrong in so many ways, it’s overwhelming. Conscious that I can’t wade into every fight, I’ve been looking for a place to stand that makes sense to me.

I’ve been a member of The Woodland Trust for something like a decade. It’s been a happy relationship. I give them money, they send me a nice magazine, and every now and then they win something, a wood is saved, land is bought and allowed to regenerate… and I feel good about being a tiny part of that. So, when they announced the idea of Special Branch, I got rather excited. What they were looking for are people willing to campaign online. But it gets better, because what we’re talking about here is soft campaigning.

I’ve done a few turns at harder activism. The sort of work where you go in and fight your corner, and push, and protest. It burns me out emotionally. I expect I’ll keep doing bits and pieces of that when it’s needed, but I can’t live there. Soft activism, by contrast, deeply attracts me. It’s about building ideas and getting people engaged. It’s about stories, and, for these purposes, connecting people with trees.

And really, if as a Druid I wasn’t a bit excited by the idea of trying to softly engage people with trees via stories and other forms of creativity, something would be wrong!

One of the consequences of this, is that I will add more tree related content to the blog. I’m always looking for new threads of ideas to explore, and this should be a very natural match for the other things I get up to. Turning my love of trees into something that can serve the trees seems like a very sustainable way forward for me. It will not solve all the world’s ills, but I firmly believe that a culture that is considerate of its trees will likely also do a better job of taking care of its people, so, here we go…

Tempted to follow suit? there are loads of ways to get involved, more information here –


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Joining Special Branch

  • lornasmithers

    It’s good to hear you’ve found a form of volunteering that suits. Likewise I’ve been called to volunteer at certain things but given a lot of them up. South Ribble Transition Towns – no-one but us wanted to be transitioned! Interfaith Work – too stressful and too much pressure to conform to social norms. Volunteering with the Wildlife Trust – no good if the sites don’t have toilets and you have IBS. I’ve also considered joining activist groups such as Hope Not Hate, CND and a range of green groups but reached the conclusion none are for me, partly as they don’t have a spiritual dimension, partly as they’d take too much energy. The things I’ve stuck with are helping run a local poetry night and litter picking and managing a wildflower meadow in my local valley. I think it’s a case of finding things that fit with your beliefs and suit your stress levels and amount of free time.

    • Nimue Brown

      Absolutely – without a car, and with unpredictable energy levels I’m wary of the out and about stuff, but this is online work, which I can just fit in! Groups that are a bit more imaginative about how people might contribute are a decided plus.

  • BART Station Bard

    LOVE it! My day job is a combo of tourguide and volunteer placement. I started at this place of ships as a volunteer. It was in some ways a wrong turn, but I’ve never regretted my love affair with old ships. Someone has to inspire the next generation to pick up the tools and learn the skills, and we need to keep sailing in the human skillset–just as we need to be in symbiotic relationship with the forests. These things are too important to rely on money to keep them going. They need love.

  • Andrew.

    This sounds perfect. Inspiring, nurturing and service. All the best with this.

  • Siobhan Johnson

    This sounds awesome. I’ve just moved to a new city, and it’s hard to find volunteering opportunities when you work Saturdays and are exhausted in the evenings. We used to be members of both the National Trust and English Heritage which was really fun, but eventually money became an issue. Doesn’t it always?

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