The ‘Humans’ behind this Collective
I will take the leading role. My story starts in Japan. From the second half of 2017 until early 2020, I lived in a male dominated environment in a Japanese city and tapped into nature based art and health practices and organised voluntarily other forest baths for fellow international fellow feminist students of my university to cope with loneliness and experiences of micro-aggression. She returned to Belgium in February 2020, just before the first COVID-19 related measures got implemented there. These measures (e.g. social distancing, forbidding places and moments of gathering and participation) have an impact on the mental health of many citizens. I started to build a network of forest therapy guides in Belgium, a portal website about the practice.
Photo 1: A park in Nagoya, Japan, with feminist students from Nagoya University
After the forest bath, there was a circle moment where we read an old Japanese myth of Amaterasu’s rape and the impact on her environment (humans and the more than human world). Some students shared there for the first time their personal experience why they engage in voluntary work for this feminist student club.
Read more in a blog at woodwidewebstories.com
I was born and raised in Lithuania. I experienced soviet regime followed by big political and societal transformations which enabled me to develop strong resilience skills from a young age. Since 1999, from the age of 26, I was living and doing research in several places in Europe: France, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. My interests shifted from plant chemistry into understanding of functioning of ecosystems and interactions of people with each other and other than the human world. I have been living in Belgium for 15 years. After traveling in different scientific fields (pharmaceutical and food sciences, botany, social anthropology and environmental-community psychology) in various cultural landscapes and interacting with people of different backgrounds, I came to understand that many challenges we are facing globally can be addressed only collectively as we are all one and interconnected. I believe we can succeed together by transforming into cocreation, trust, togetherness culture where we embrace complexity of various systems and where we work in multiple contexts at the same time. We can move together by nourishing our senses and skills of belonging and oneness. Our personal development is fostered by giving meaning to our collective actions where each person has the opportunity to discover their own place and true nature by living in a nature-connected world. In this his project we aim to explore the need of belonging as a main driving force to trigger and open the highest human creativity and engage deeply into creating communities of meaning.
Photo 2: In November 2020 we organised cocreation research day at Jean Massart experimental garden of Brussels Free University (Université libre de Bruxelles, ULB) and Sonial forest (included in UNESCO heritage list) to explore possible transformation between gardens and forest. Can garden be perceived as a forest and can we experience forest as a garden? The study day started by 2 hours guided forest bath walk which included a forest tea ceremony and group exchanges about local forest medicinal plants.
I am a pharmacist and transdisciplinary researcher focusing on nature-based health practices for health/wellbeing promotion and disease prevention. Last 2 years I was exploring participatory research and cocreation methods with local multicultural Brussels communities to understand better ongoing transformation of local inner and outer therapeutic landscapes. In the Health Gardens of Brussels project with more than 200 co-researchers I was co-learning about our relationships with nature and how those relationships affect our health and the health of the local urban ecosystem. Belonging to place and connection with one-self, community and other than the human world is central in co-creating Health Gardens in Brussels. We experienced that need of belonging to human and other than human world if a fundamental need and prerequisite to human good functioning, flourishing, fulfilment and life filled with meaning.
(will be updated soon)