See the light… The forthcoming solar eclipse is an event that will pass many people by, making it a good metaphor for the way we live our lives today. The importance of the life-giving forces of the sun cannot be overstated and nor can the influence it has over everything we take for granted. Scaling this right down to here and now, we had time on Tuesday to reflect on our progress in getting the group to this early stage as we dug over our ground at Bellahouston, with just one Robin to observe us.
It was cool and quiet and we were the only people there to dig, chat and plan as ideas abounded – soon to be seen through the pages of this site. This is a group that is led by autistic people for autistic people and while for some that has been a reason for discouragement and mistrust, there have been those who completely get what this is all about and have given extensive and wholehearted encouragement over many months.
Elizabeth from ARC was the first to hear of the plans and her insight an understanding resulted in a meeting with the amazing Mary, who runs an inspiring group at Hamiltonhill in Glasgow. Their advice and support, both practical and through encouragement, have been pivotal to any progress being made at all. Then my pal Bernie bore the real brunt of the news of hold-ups and successes and everything else in between, right up to our first soil being turned, which was very appropriate. He also came along to our outing to the Glasgow Botanic Garden for a talk by members of the Astronomical Society of Glasgow, making the scope of our interest in our group activities truly out of this world.
And that is how I would describe the support, encouragement and advice received from the ladies at Maryhill CAB. In particular, Jane and Nadia used joined up thinking to provide links and contacts that help me in my goal to make this work to benefit so many others, reducing the pressure on me beyond measure. Theirs is the kind of attitude that reaps real long term rewards that make the best of scant resources and that reassures me that the common sense as viewed by those of us on the spectrum is not lost completely to the neurotypical population – there is hope that understanding can make our world a better place.
In terms of actual, physical space to keep our gardeners busy, we are indebted to Anna from Gartnavel Royal Hospital for her open-minded enthusiasm and display of belief that we could make this work, bringing us our first dedicated site, for which we are so thankful. Being given the benefit of the doubt is good but to receive such trust is really heart-warming and Anna’s understanding of our group goals has been reassuring too.
The inspiring Jan who worked the ground at Bellahouston before us, should, in my view, have a permanent slot on Radio 4’s Today programme, providing the thought for the day. If Jan could bottle up her enthusiasm, tenacity, knowledge, drive and sincerity she would be a millionaire but she doesn’t bottle it up, she shares it with grace that sets an example we could all learn from. We’re all very lucky for that.
Among our gardeners, Jane, Frazer, Martin and Mark have made excellent suggestions for taking the group forward and Mark co-ordinated our leaflet distribution and is on hand to help members with travel and route planning. It has gone from being an uphill struggle to a very humbling and rewarding experience, even at this early stage, so do look in to follow our progress. The whole point is to document the experience warts and all, so we can devise a blueprint that can be followed by anyone on the spectrum who wants to look into the possibility of starting a local group of their own, to build our network and set the example of just what can be achieved – whatever the odds. Thanks to everyone who has helped so far, now let’s see what nature throws at us. To begin with, here in the UK, head out on Friday morning between 08:30 to 10:30 to observe a partial solar eclipse and focus on the moment and then on the world and your place in it and as the eclipse draws to an end, consider how bright we can make our time ahead as we begin to understand more about nature and more about life. In small ways we have already made an impact in our world so we can develop and protect this and look forward to having our own space and our own time to focus on a world of discovery, on our own terms.