Our location was in the middle of the forest, within walking distance of a beautiful lake that has the shape of a heart, and a water canal that guides you almost everywhere. However, we did encounter some obstacles due to the weather, which didn't let us be outside all the time. But we used that time to be creative and playful, exploring what we could do with music, even though many of our participants had never had music-making experience.
Nature Notes was organized by Fabienne Haßlöwer, Anja Kitzing, and myself. Our goal was to help these youngsters create core memories supported by nature and around nature, with the emotional component of collective music-making. We hoped that this would inspire them to step into their leadership and stand up for nature, by training their creativity, using their love for nature, and helping them realize that it's the strength of people working together that can create incredible changes for the future.
Our headquarters for the week was the Schullandheim Haus Lankau, a fantastic location to be creative. With lots of chill rooms, a winter garden, and access to the canal. We had the house to ourselves, which can accommodate almost 100 people simultaneously. And of course we took advantage of the location and had some crazy hide-and-seek sessions!
On day 2 of our nature retreat, we were encouraged to explore our creativity and connect with nature. It was a beautiful day, and we had a long hike through the forest and spent the morning playing music and rhythmic games to bring the group together. We sat under tall trees in a drumming circle and felt the wind, which was incredibly refreshing and invigorating. The idea was to connect with nature by establishing a collective beat.
On day 3, we started with a warm-up before embarking on a canoe trip. We raced and sang an upbeat Caribbean song together, holding our canoes together and letting ourselves be drifted by the current. It was a beautiful moment of connection, and we were all so grateful to be in such a stunning natural environment.
Later in the day, we began working on our song. We thought deeply about what we needed to light our fire and we came up with some amazing ideas that we integrated into the song lyrics. For example, we recognized the importance of sleeping in until late or wearing clothes that make you feel great. It was a great combination of cool band sections (thanks to some incredibly talented young musicians in the group) and amazing melodies and songwriting and the collection of sounds from nature which we used to build a beat.
As the sun began to set, we sang by the water and just enjoyed being together in a relaxed environment. Later in the evening, we had a bonfire where we invented songs and grooves for each one of us (the drumming went on for at least an hour non-stop). Later they started a sort of dance I've never experienced before! Spinning around the fire running full speed with music coming from a Bluetooth speaker! I guess you would have to be there to get the picture! It was such a powerful experience of connection and empowerment, and we were all grateful for the opportunity to bond with each other and with nature.
On the fourth day, we started with a recovery session to slowly ease into the day. We took the time to record our song and also made an "in the nature" version, which we recorded as well. Later, we chilled in the forest and found a beautiful sunny spot near the canal. Then, it was time for the most amazing pull the rope competition ever, which led us to a beautiful thankful session where we gave symbolic gifts to each other and bonded in the most beautiful way (tears of happiness flowed and hugs and gratitude).
The last day was a time to be thankful and play our song for our hosts before saying our goodbyes until next time. Throughout the creative week, we had helped these youngsters to create core memories together, supported by music, nature and their own creativity. We empowered them to step into their leadership, step out of their comfort zone and open their hearts to people they probably never imagined connecting with before. They all got the chance to be leaders of the group. From being the party DJs and hipping the whole group, to playing the drum non-stop to enable the dancing and improvised songs and stories, to teaching Kurdish culture and dance, to translating and making sure no one was left behind, to pushing the group to be more in the nature and in movement, to being an emotional support to each other during the week, to leading activities themselves. They had the opportunity of having a week where they were the ones who decided what to do, how to behave, how to be themselves and not receive instructions and rules from others. And you know what? They shined, they made the right decisions, they cared for each other and they CREATED THEIR OWN COMMUNITY and they were strong
Our mission was to spark a flame deep inside that will never extinguish, a flame made out of natural elements that has its home in nature and is based on emotions and deep connection. We hope that they will continue to spread the love for our natural world and use their creativity to contribute to the recuperation of this marvelous world.
I am incredibly proud of them, and my faith in humanity and most of all in the next generation, has been restored. I am missing them already and I hope to work hard so that we can create the conditions to meet again and bring new participants, strengthening this bond supported by nature, amazing people, music, and creativity. Together, we can make a difference and create a better world for ourselves and for generations to come.