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How to start a Sacred Land project

How to start a Sacred Land project

So your group has found a special place that you want to protect or create. What do you do now?

1. The first stage is to identify what it means to you. If you don't have a wonderful story about why this is a sacred place then it will be hard to persuade anyone else.

Funding bodies tend to be more interested in projects that involve a variety of partners.
2. Link up with others for whom this is also special: Sacred Land only works with groups and communities, not with individuals.

3. Start asking questions: what is already there (in terms of wildlife, structures, communities, roads)? Who uses it now, and how? What was it like in the past? How was it used in the past? Who owns it and what controls are there? Are there any development plans?

4. Draw up maps – first make use of the resources in the local authority archives (in the UK try the district council planning department or the county records office) to see how the site has developed. And then create your own maps, with any points of interest (even urban wasteland can have interesting features).

5. Make contact with other knowledgeable people beyond your immediate group: they may prove to be your firmest supporters. Often archaeological officers, natural history groups, librarians, county records officers and others will be naturally interested in the subject – with the expertise to really help.

6. If the owners of the land are not already involved with the project then you will need to "sell" it to them. Don't be too discouraged if they are not immediately enthusiastic. One Sacred Land project began when a householder decided to fill in a well he thought was dangerous. When he learned that it was the earliest Anchorite well in England he allowed a local group to renovate it, and became proud of what he had his garden.

7. Define your objectives through bringing the group together to present their findings, encouraging brainstorming and crazy ideas before insisting on getting practical. For example, at Walsingham in Norfolk, the overall objective was to make the last stage of an ancient pilgrimage route from a dangerous walk into a safe, spiritual experience. At Barton Hill in Bristol the objective was to turn a piece of lawn into a memorial to the people of Barton Hill.

8. Make a management plan. This should be clear and easy to understand, combining the ‘who what why where when’ of the project with details of funding potential, practical partnerships (including Local Agenda 21), plans for long-term management of the site. For more details download the ARC/WWF information pack for project groups. Don't forget to include wheelchair access where possible.

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