Finding Inspiration: The White Wood Gala

finding inspiration

Another start to another irregular series, this time looking at events, movies, books and such that have provided inspiration for some roleplay!  

This weekend, I travelled down to Huntly for the White Wood Gala.  Deveron Arts, the Huntly-based managers of the project, describe the wood:

The White Wood was planted by and for the community of Huntly in 2015, from Caroline Wendling’s Oaks & Amity project. It is a living monument to peace and will officially launch on 28 May at the White Wood Gala and opening ceremony.  

Here are a few pictures from the White Wood Gala.  Some are by me, whilst other came from my sister, who was one of the managers of this fantastic project:

Much of the day was inspiring for one reason or another.  For example, Satish Kumar gave me a lot to think about in terms of my work, whilst it was also very interesting to meet some of the Syrian refugees who have been resettled in Aberdeenshire.  To bring us to the focus of this site and put things in terms of roleplaying, the story of the White Wood, as told by storyteller Ben Macfadyen was very interesting.  Here is how Deveron Arts describes his role:

Storyteller Ben Macfadyen is from Somerset and works collaboratively with people from all walks of life to tell their stories. Ben arrived in Huntly in early November and, over the next few months, will develop the story of the White Wood. This is a story that will still be told in 300 years time, when the oak trees are fully grown.

From the project, Oaks & Amity, the White Wood was planted in March 2015 by artist Caroline Wendling and the Huntly Community. Located in the Bin Forest, it is a peace wood containing 1700 native plants and trees including 49 oak trees from Joseph Beuys 7000 Oaks acorns, planted alongside French stone in the Scottish soil.

Exploring the connection between ecology and peace, Ben and others cycled to the COP21 Climate Negotiations in Paris with one of the oak trees to plant at Murs-à-pêches. The White Wood is a site of reflection and regeneration and, in creating its story, Ben is asking ‘In 300 years time, what will these trees see?’

I had been looking for a basis for a game of Changeling: The Lost for some time and I think that the themes that he weaves through his story, and particularly some of the mythological and supernatural elements, match very closely to the themes of Changeling: The Lost.  The man made nature of the wood and the very concept of them mythologising it with this story is also quite fascinating.  I loved how the story changed perspective from the ants, to the earth, to the trees and the sun.  I loved the section about the scars gouged in the earth by war and the context of the acorns which will become the oaks being brought to Scotland from Kassal, Germany.  This context of ecological intervention in an urban setting is likewise fascinating from both a real perspective, and how the in-game implications in the Changeling setting.

From a Changeling perspective, this intervention could represent a man-made – though inadvertent – breach into the The Hedge.  My players will all take the roles of Changelings who were taken from the Aberdeenshire area and who were returned, and their bonds of servitude to the Fae broken, during the telling of this story.  Returning through this breach to find a new world awaiting them will be the starting point for my story.

There is no recording of Macfadyen’s story available online, but here is a TED Talk that he did, just to give you an idea of his general style and his use of mythology:

This event was inspiring for many, many reasons, and I have taken a lot away from the experience.  Though not the most important thing I have taken from the event, I am delighted to finally have a solid, compelling basis for my Changeling: The Lost campaign.


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