Gaining peace and solace from time spent in green spaces, Marlon Patrice found healing in nature after the tragic passing of his son to knife crime. Wanting to share this healing power, he founded We Go Outside Too; connecting inner city communities to these spaces and empowering their right to roam.
Healing In The Hills
5 min read
Written by Marlon Patrice
Images by Karl Mackie
What does "the right to roam" mean to you?
To me the right to roam means being able to go outdoors, to move around more freely, to get out and explore your surroundings, enjoying it and respecting that space as well. Being able to take it in and using it as a form of balance.
Living in the inner city there are barriers, like just not knowing where to start! How do people access these green spaces? Because a lot of them are in remote places. So just being able to access these spaces is really important. At the same time, we can also appreciate the smaller green spaces around us in the inner city. You can always start small and then work your way up to these other more remote natural spaces.
How do you exercise your right to roam in your life already?
I have a little morning ritual. There’s a bit of green space near where I live, so I use that bit to unplug. It’s plonked in the middle of a dual carriageway but there’s this small area. I would dread for anyone to start building on there, because that’s my little solace. Even though it’s in the middle of built-up flats and roads and everything, it’s still like… you just feel like you’re somewhere else. But it’s definitely a way for me to get away from it all. It gives you a chance for that thought process. What can I do next? How can I move forward? It just gives you that space to think.
What do you do in your work with We Got Outside Too, and is there a motivation to pass on this desire to roam to others?
The work we’re doing with We Go Outside Too is about making people aware that there is beauty all around us in these green spaces, bringing people together and connecting them. It’s also about allowing them to express themselves, working together as a collective, as a unit, and building each other up. Being in nature has so many benefits. It leaves you feeling happier, and then you bring it back to the city and it trickles down! The plan is to give them those tools so that they can go on and do it alone or with their friends too, so passing it on is definitely a big part of it.
Spending time outside has helped me loads and I’m so thankful for having these tools. When I was going through the trauma of my son passing, using nature as a support to move forward helped hugely. It’s healing, and there’s two sides to this healing. Spending time in these green spaces is one, but it’s also about passing it on to the community. When you see people’s eyes and their reactions when they go out and experience it for themselves, it’s amazing. Seeing those reactions, it gives me fuel to push on; to make it better, do more, keep improving, heighten the experience.
How does it feel to connect to the land and to nature?
It’s kind of like connecting with God, you know? It’s very spiritual for me. You can look at the simplest things and be in awe. It just raises your awareness; you see things in more detail and become mindful of your surroundings. It makes you feel light, as if you’re floating. It’s medicine for the eyes, and for the soul. It fills you up. I feel so much gratitude when I’m out there.
What does community mean to you? And what effect have you seen spending time in nature have on members of that community?
Community to me is about being able to share, being able to talk, to connect and come together. It’s a unit, or a family. At WGOT we call it the Soul Family. We fill up our souls and experience these new places together; introducing this inner-city community to new things and hopefully passing on that passion to others in the community so they can do that too.
The effect we see is amazing. People just look brighter. Their faces light up, they seem more awake. There was a woman I know who brought along a friend of hers. Their husband had passed away and my friend was telling me that this lady had never smiled so much before. She was in the green spaces and she was fully enjoying it, taking it all in and smiling. Being in nature, it just boosts your mood. It uplifts you naturally.