Who is Chris?
Chris Holland is a leading inspiration in the field of nature connection and creative outdoor learning for families, schools and businesses in the UK and increasingly worldwide. He has a BSc in Environmental Science, has been involved in outdoor learning for 20 years, and became a self employed educator in 2001. He is an author and prize winning photographer and a “world class” didgeridoo player too. Chris has many things in his teaching bundle including a natural talent for working with groups of people, telling stories, sharing bushcraft skills, foraging, creating environmental art and playing the didgeridoo. He feels very proud because his first book, a playful hands on nature connection guidebook called I love my World, “is a must” according to children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo. His latest project, The Natural Musicians is at the creative edge of nature connection and musical composition.
Chris, why do you do what you do?
“Basically I did an environmental science degree, became interested in education and why people see themselves as separate from nature. I have then looked for ways reminding people, starting with children, families and then other groups that we are all connected inextricably from the rest of nature. in the hope that it will help people love self, each other and the environment in a more wholistic way, with more understanding and respect.”
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Guided by the principle of “learn to play, play to learn“, Chris Holland provides light hearted, yet serious, whole body learning, training and teambuilding experiences to help people reconnect with the land and all our relations. Chris sees himself as a nature connection specialist and is the author of the best selling book I love my World (see the link on the right?).
Wholeland was established in 2000 by Chris Holland to bring people, young and old, into a more meaningful, loving, respectful, joyous and spirited relationship with the earth, plants and animals from which the majority of our resources come, in the hope that this will help humans want to live in a more balanced and sustainable way. Chris has many things in his teaching bundle. Chris is a bushcraft teacher, an outdoor play and nature awareness facilitator, an environmental artist, musician and storyteller. Wholeland is based in East Devon, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
What does he mean by ‘all our relations’? If you were to imagine you are sitting at the centre of a 3D spiders web, ‘all your relations’ would be the strands moving off from the centre to the edge. Those strands would be your ancestors, the stories you were told that formed the way you see the world around you, the plants and animals that become the food you eat, the strands are the energy cycles you are part of and they are also that blackbird you disturbed from its feeding as you walked down the path, the strands are also molecules in the air you breathe which have already been parts of an infinite number of creatures; your dreams, hopes and visions; your fears, regrets and nightmares; your internal and external political landscape, your social standing, in fact, ‘all our relations’ means everything in the web of life were are affected by, and we affect, through our actions. Physically we are all made of air, water and earth, with the magical firey spark of life thrown in for good measure – something we share with every other thing or system on this planet. When we tug at any strand in the fabric of life we soon find that all things are connected and that we humans are very much part of life’s rich tapestry. Wholeland is about giving people experiences that remind them that they are part of that tapestry.
More about Chris and how he came to do what he does.
Chris was born in Sussex in the early 70’s, taken to Australia by his dad a few years later, only to go to Kenya with his mum when he was seven. He played alot outdoors, struggled on at a number of different schools in a number of different countries, felt very chuffed when he received an honours degree in Environmental Science, and has been teaching, instructing and mentoring in and out of schools since 1993. He is finding ways of educating youngster in bushcraft and nature awareness through the national curriculum in schools, through play, through Forest School and by stealth! He likes teaching older folks too of course. He leads ‘expotitions’ along the River Otter and onto Dartmoor. He works with Wildwise Environmental Education and Training, and was the Earthwise Education Ranger at Otterton Mill during 2002.
Having been inspired by great nature educators such as Joseph Cornell, Tom Brown Jr, Jon Young, Gerald Durrell, Sir Richard Attenborough and his personal mentor for a while, Tom Schorr-Kon of Trackways in Sussex, Chris draws on extensive worldwide travelling and natural living experience and has developed a lively style of teaching that uses drama and games, stories and practical activities to share a wide range of concepts, skills, attitudes and behavioral qualities.
Learn to play, play to learn is now his moto. He tries to make all of the learning more memorable and embodied through play and laughter.
Chris has enjoyed playing the didgeridoo since his first meeting with one in a shop in Bath during 1992. He had been teaching in schools in Surrey for over two years before moving to Devon in 2000. He has performed and played with many musicians, from Paul Robertson of the Medici String Quartet to Hawkwind, from an Aboriginal dance troop in Coffs Harbour to Baka Beyond in Cheltenham. He was a founding member of the festival band Jabberwocky and has made a solo album called Fundijeri. He appeared on the main stage at Sidmouth Folk Festival in 2002 with members of Rolf Hariss’s band. He has produced a solo didgeridoo album, Fundijeri, which you can listen to (and buy or course!) here
Chris is also trained first-aider, a Forest School Leader, and has studied self-heal herbalism with the Selfheal School of Medicinal Herbalism. He has also taught dance, yoga and p.e. at a Small School in Bath. He is married, father to two lovely girls and a handsome young lad, and can often be seen browsing in and around Otterton. He decided to go self-employed and do what he does shortly after doing Thomas Schorr-kon’s Wilderness Philosophy Two class. The rest of the story is still unfolding…