Updated: Mar 17
Almost exactly three years ago, with ever dwindling numbers of people in the city, I vividly remember how I could hear the birds singing as I walked along the South Bank. I never experienced that in central London either before or since then. A few days after that we went into full lockdown.
This period coincided with the start of my journey to diversify the farm and develop the idea of a sanctuary for people to revive their inner spirit and reconnect to nature. There is a serenity here that invites you to open the senses and absorb the sights and sounds of the natural environment. I am immensely grateful for that and for my continual learning from the ever changing landscape. The farm certainly became a sanctuary for me during the long lockdowns. As spring sprung in 2021, and the prospect of in-person gatherings became possible once again, I began to wonder how to bring people together after such a long period of social isolation. 'PitchShift' was born, and on 25th June a small group of us convened with open minds and hearts, receptive to new experiences and perspectives.
I took this photo on the night before the start of that first PitchShift, and I remember a real sense of anticipation and excitement for what was to come. Across the weekend there were varied sessions and experiences including sound therapy, breathwork, dancing, creative workshops, and nature walks. And when we all convened on the Saturday evening to share a home-cooked BBQ dinner, it was truly a joy to see the courtyard full of people just being together and connecting.
This photo is from the second PitchShift in August 2021. Warm and heartfelt thanks to Tamara and Trudi who worked with me on developing the schedules and facilitation, and special mention too to Mark and Matt who helped to formulate the concept that year. Huge thanks to all the facilitators including those at the most recent PitchShift in September last year.
At PitchShift we shift the mind, body, spirit and senses. As well as immersing ourselves in nature, we explore new technologies that might bring us into presence and connection, from Addictive TV's mind-melting audiovisual shows in the barn, to experiments in neurofeedback in the courtyard stables.
But it is much more than this too. We explore and maybe even experience a shift in our mindset, our way of thinking and being. We cannot return to the world as it was in 2019, and neither should we want to as we confront the challenges of 2023. How can we be kinder, gentler and more compassionate to ourselves? In what new ways can we connect and collaborate with others? How can we reconnect with a new understanding and appreciation of the natural world that we all belong to?
So for PitchShift 2023, lets see what emerges in answer to these questions, with nature, music and movement as our guide. We'll be stripping back the schedule so there's plenty of time for playful connection and conversation around the campfire. Music will be at the heart of this year's event - we'll be dialling up the dancing to shake off any old unwanted habits and create some healthier ones. And we'll bask and bathe in whatever nature brings to us on the second weekend of summer...