Creativity is Out There – in Nature!

Is it possible to connect garbage sorting with creativity? Is it true that “if it is not fun, it is not scouting”? Find out more how we managed to prepare and run creative KA2 project during covid-19 pandemic!

Our experience with Erasmus+ KA2 project “#Creativity @Nature”, which was implemented in the framework of Partnerships for Creativity in the field of Youth (special call in 2020).

The Idea

The main idea of the project was to bring together professionals from different fields and experiment together and explore how to use different creativity tools in nature as a great way for our own and young peoples’ learning and improved well-being. Throughout the 20 months project we did many activities individually, in national teams and internationally, which helped us not only to explore deeper our own relationship with nature, but it also helped to experience how creativity is enhanced by being in nature.

In our partnership we had 4 countries – Georgia, Latvia, Italy and Portugal. From each country we had 2 organisations. One was more involved in youth work, another in environmental and outdoor education, yet others in arts, culture and creativity fields.

The project idea was born during the COVID-19 pandemic times, which were not easy for any of us. We were all surely tired of being online, at home and apart. So, this project came at the right time to establish long-term relationship with colleagues from different countries and to go out in the forests, mountains, ocean coast to try out different activities that make us more connected with ourselves, nature and each other in the group and promote creative spark in us. By having gone through an extensive experimentation process, we hoped that we could later on bring our experience also to young people.

What have we been doing?

During the project we got involved in different kind of activities:

  • Creative camps (youth workers and artists sharing, creating and trying out different activities in the nature);
  • International meetings in Portugal and Italy (sharing experiences, discussing connection between nature and creativity and youth work, trying out different activities in nature, connecting with local communities);
  • Research process in 3 working groups on main topics: #creativity and #nature, #youthwork #pandemic?! (for ca. 6 months we had regular online meetings among peers to share our own thoughts, but also combine it with already available research results, theories, publications);
  • Creation of website with 40 tools that we prepared and tried out during the project (10 detailed descriptions of creative activities in nature from each country in English; some of descriptions available also in the partners’ languages);
  • Implementation of the developed activities with youth workers and young people in our local communities;

All activity descriptions, our stories as well as research group results on the topics are available in the project website: www.creativity-nature.tk

So, how did it all go?

This kinds of long-term projects are not always easy, because our motivation, commitment and contribution to project greatly vary throughout the project life-span. With 4 countries involved (btw, each of us was in a different time-zone!), 8 organisations and a team of about 20 people it was only natural that we all had our UPs and DOWNs at different moments. We were connected and disconnected at different times. 

Due to pandemic, we surely could not escape being on countless video meetings and we had to change our plans many times due to covid-19 regulations. Also international travels were much more difficult (especially for the Georgian team). Nevertheless, we were very proud that despite all the challenges during the project, we learnt to respect each other’s needs, adapt to the situation and enjoyed the working process together. 

Having spent so much time in nature and playing (trying out different activities) helped us as a team a lot to connect on a different level.  Both as professionals, but also individuals that get to know each other better and get inspired by each other. In our working process we always made sure that we spent as much time as possible outdoors. Even during video calls, part of activities we did outdoors (individually or in national teams). This brought more fun, playfulness, creativity and presence to the process. 

During the project, spending lots of time researching the concepts of creativity and being/working in nature allowed us not only to understand and experience the ideas on a deeper level (compared to short-term projects), but also to integrate them more in working approach and practices. Thanks to this project we have many more tools that we use in our everyday work. But above all, we feel more motivated and confident to bring young people to nature. We believe that this is a very powerful learning space and we should all spend more time outdoors.

Mariam’s experiences

Mariam Abramishvili, one of the project coordinators and leader in the Association of Georgian Girl Scouts DIA shares her learnings and impressions from the project.

How was it to be part of the project for you? How has it influenced you as a professional?

Being part of the project, DIA received not only ready-made workshops prepared by all of us, but also various ideas for youth activities. By hearing and experiencing different approaches from colleagues in the project, me as a youth worker widened my knowledge around the concept of creativity and gain hints to see challenges from the other perspectives.

What surprised you, what was valuable?

The most surprising thing throughout the project was how we – humans, can connect garbage sorting with creativity. In Portugal Brigada do Mar and Associacia Novo Mundo assisted us to make toys with sorted garbage and hung them on the walls of a kindergarten. Ideas like this enhance our responsibilities towards nature from a very young age. Such approach in solving environmental challenges is unfamiliar enough for youth organizations, but they could easily attract peoples’ attention, so that youth will be both encouraged and excited in order to enjoy with the whole process. 

Which of the ideas, approaches are you still using in your work with Georgian youngsters?

Once the approach is simple and requires only a little equipment it is always effective, that’s what we do in scouting. Through the project we had an experiment named Balance on Pieces by Italians. All we needed was a piece of wood and the balance of our body. The game is flexible in a way that we can start it from the beginner to advanced level and one can modify it variously. We also enjoyed many activities that we tried out in the forest. About the balance of our body (Balance of Pieces); also to feel here-and-now moments (The Sleeping Cats as well as Being There) and playing with nature (See and Show). To sum up, these are good examples of what we appreciate and adopt in scouting – modifying games in different ways, where we save both time and resources, and still, staying creative.

Why promoting creativity and doing activities in nature is crucial to you?

Aside from all the healthy physical activities and pristine air to enjoy being in nature, we scouts also adore it because we can do scout-crafting, like shelters, composts and a wide working environment with stunningly beautiful office view. The founder of scouting, Robert Baden-Powell, said If it is not fun, it is not scouting. So first of all, it is fun. But second of all, by doing composts and other related activities (e.g. gardening) we can also encourage rural elements in our daily urban life. So that learning in nature gives us practical skills to live.

Why is it important for Georgian organisations to be part of such projects?

Well, Georgia is still a developing country with a complicated historical background and education is quite traditional here. Non-formal education is rapidly growing and also implemented in some schools. So our and other youth workers’ job is to make the non-formal education well-rooted, common and recognized. So first of all, if other youth (and not only) organisations will take part in the projects like this, it will help our mission to adopt our methodologies throughout the country. Second of all, sharing our best practises enriches our programs and makes us grow professionally.

Watch the video from our project and find more stories, pictures, tools and the project’s results at the web-site we have created www.creativity-nature.tk

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