Grove Tending as Feminine Nature Based Leadership

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Grove Tender is the name we give to the women in our movement who step forward in service to create a local TreeSisters Women's Circle (aka a Grove).

Offering a held and safe space for women to gather is a really significant role within our network, a beautiful gift to your local community and a way of providing something that many women want but are unsure of how to create for themselves.

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Like many treesisters, Grove Tenders can find themselves entering our organization through various different portals, coming in through one door and then traveling through our different offerings and projects such as the Inner Journey, Water Carriers, Pollinators and Heartwood volunteer team.

Our treesister and Grove Tender Paulletta Gwinnup came to TreeSisters initially as a monthly member and then finding her way to the Groves project she felt confidently drawn to create a local circle in her homeland of Dayton, Ohio in the United States of America.

'I came to TreeSisters initially to give funds to plant trees. This was the perfect way for me to be "active" as I am no longer physically able to do as much as I used to'. ~ Paulletta Gwinnup, Grove Tender of Five Rivers Grove

TreeSisters Groves are distinct from other women's circles in that they begin with what we call an in-breath element of nourishment designed to really support women to care for themselves and each other in ways that honor the feminine principles of relationality, deep feeling and an intuitive and embodied connection with all of life. Starting off with nourishing in-breath helps to create a rooted and supportive sisterhood within the Grove, so that when what we call the out-breath element, 'the desire for nature-based activism.' naturally rises it is doing so from a grounded foundation of connectedness and resilience.

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The combination of these two elements offers a way for grounded, creative, active energy to be channeled, whilst at the same time reducing the risk of the burnout that so often occurs from action taken from an already depleted and unresourced place within us.

'It was within my Comfort Zone to start the TreeSisters Five Rivers Grove in Dayton, Ohio USA about 11 months ago for my activist friends who were experiencing burnout.

The initial plan was to facilitate a group centered on relaxation and meditation to help women manage stress and reconnect to nature, and then grow from there to some out-breath activities and perhaps even some fundraising'. ~ Paulletta Gwinnup, Grove Tender of Five Rivers Grove

Sometimes setting up a Grove very slowly is exactly the right way to go - watering the women whilst offering seeds of permission and encouragement along the way as the in-breath continues to do its magic.

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'I started a Facebook Page, not as a Virtual Grove, but as a way to invite women of all ages to attend Grove Gatherings. This page serves as a place to share meeting times and locations, make people aware of volunteer out breath activities through other groups such as Land Bank and Marianist Environmental Education Center, to encourage people to participate in the Inner Journey to Awakening and to invite people to become donating members of TreeSisters'.  ~ Paulletta Gwinnup, Grove Tender of Five Rivers Grove

Listening deeply to the unique rhythms and timing of a Grove is a key element of the role of Grove Tender, and in itself is a perfect expression of Feminine Nature Based Leadership (FNBL). Rather than push forward into action from urgency, panic or fear, FNBL calls us to drop out of our conditioned minds and instead feel into the earth of our bodies, the airy wind of our breath and the watery nature of our emotions in order to receive a truer transmission of what wants to be expressed and how to do that in the world.

'I would like this Grove to be more active/out-breath oriented but the timing is not right just yet. For now, this Grove will be a meditation and circle sharing Grove with a focus on deepening our connection with ourselves and each other through led practices of nature-based meditations and sistering. This is what the woman in this group need the most for now'. ~ Paulletta Gwinnup, Grove Tender of Five Rivers Grove

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As well as reforesting the tropics and planting trees locally all around the world, the call for the reinstating of feminine consciousness back into its rightful balance on earth is equally central to the work of TreeSisters. Tending a Grove from a place of deep listening and trust is a beautiful, momentous and far-reaching gift to this precious life.

'I understand the importance of allowing it to be as the women who attend the group need it to be. That is what really matters. That is what will help consciousness begin to shift'. ~ Paulletta Gwinnup, Grove Tender of Five Rivers Grove



 Blog by Jenny Smith

Top photo courtesy UnSplash by Kazuend

Story photos by Paulletta Gwinnup 



JennySmith
Jenny Smith is a very experienced facilitator having trained multiple teams to work on front line services; being a facilitator of Joanna Macy's Work that Reconnects and co-facilitating the annual Eartheart Women's Initiation with Jewels Wingfield.

Jenny is the outward co-ordinator of the Groves project – the groups through which local Treesisters gather. She supports women to call Groves into being and to help grow themselves and each other through the process.



 




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