New way of being, Sustainable Living Festival 2013

As a part of the Sustainable Living Festival 2013 (our 6th time to participate!), Urban Reforestation ran a workshop called "new way of being". In essence the workshop was about 'being' in a natural environment in the middle of the city. We were located in a large tent along the Yarra River which had substantially sized music speakers. Some beautiful rainforest music was played in the room and resonated throughout the tent and into the festival. People who walked by showed curiosity and were welcomed in. We handed visitors a piece of paper which read:

"Please take a seat at 12 midday and remain silent, until we do a short presentation at 12.35. We will serve you beautiful tea during this time so you relax and take time for your own wellbeing. Observing your breathing is a great way to go within and relax. If you like, take a moment to be inspired by the images of Urban Reforestation community gardens and place making projects.

Why Silence in Sustainable Living? The point of this silent workshop is to have some reflection time to think about how you may live in a sustainable way and be happier in everyday life. In our society there are strong forces making us 'be' "busy", "stressed " or "time poor". So, take this moment for yourself to think about how you may live in a happier way and have less environmental impact in your life, community and the planet. Urban Reforestation believes if we create and maintain a sanctuary within ourselves (the internal environment), we are more likely to be able to create and maintain sanctuaries in Urban (the external environment). At the end of 30 minutes of meditative silence and listening to beautiful rainforest music, Emily from Urban Reforestation will briefly share some sustainable lifestyles ideas".

The session was a great success. Over fifty people enjoyed the white peony flower tea and a moment to go within. One lady expressed afterwards she found it hard to sit still, however she was grateful to have an opportunity to rest! Basically the point of the workshop is to share an experience in an urban environment which is relaxed and taking time out to just "be". Green spaces and gardens in our cities do provide a wonderful place to sit, relax and enjoy a retreat. Maybe we should be utilising more green spaces in the city and prioritising a moment of relaxation for ourselves at least once per day?

Currently there is a lot of under-utilised spaces in the city, from gardens, rooftops, churches, church gardens, lane ways and abandoned pieces of land. The challenge for Urban Reforestation is not just to think about the "tree planting" and green, we need to think about these places as our habitats. We can invent ways to utilise these spaces with cultural, social, ecological, economic and spiritual activities. This means re-thinking our relationship to the urban environment. By becoming community minded and highly creative about ways to 'activate' the green spaces is a step in the right direction. For example: meditation gardens, gardens for craft or farmers markets, events, growing food, sitting, clothing swaps, crafts, listening to live music, "being", learning new skills about gardening etc...

Urban Reforestation believes in inspiring and enabling healthy, vibrant, active, cultural green spaces in the city. Ecological, social, cultural, economic and spiritual elements all need to be taken into consideration for us to design the Urban Forest.

To get involved with Urban Reforestation visit or our Facebook.