Roots of Change

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to spend a day photographing the launch of a new Phoenix Futures project.  Phoenix Futures work with those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.  They've been using The John Muir Award since 2005, but in the autumn they teamed up with the John Muir Trust's estate in the borders to extend their program further.  The idea is to slowly replant native woodland as part of their recovery, ridding the area of invasive species and helping regenerate the native habitat.  You can read more about it here.

I mostly shy away from talking about my part time day job here, but I wanted to share this on the blog because it is honestly, genuinely inspirational.  No shine required on this story, this is the real deal - a simple idea that changes lives.  Retention rates for this program are proving higher than other rehab programs that Phoenix have used.  More people stay sober doing this stuff - it just works.

But the people I met on the day told me more than just statistics.  They told me tree planting was good exercise, and being outside and working together on something showed them they had choices and could do something positive in their lives.  They told me that they felt safer in an outdoors environment.  They said that planting something for the future, making a tangible difference to the wider world, was making a difference to them too.  Roots were gently lowered into the ground, and earth carefully placed back.  Everyone helped each other.  It was simple, and obvious.

If you are in London over the next few months, you can see a few more of the photos, and read about the program in the Patagonia store in Covent Garden.  For now though, the photo above was my own favourite shot from the day.  The story is about reconnecting and regenerating, both people and place.

photo courtesy of Ben @Patagonia, London