Open Ground was started by Sam Harrison. A
brief personal history will highlight the ethos and aims of Open Ground,
and also the skills and qualifications that Sam brings to his work.
I come from rural Suffolk where I was
raised on a small-holding and worked on various farms. My upbringing,
mostly spent outside, was the start of a life-long quest to work in the
woods, fields and hills. It was also here, living through BSE and Foot
and Mouth, that I first became aware of the burgeoning ecological crisis and
the way it reached into peoples’ lives.
I studied philosophy at Cambridge University, which certainly was interesting! Mostly in resistance to a
philosophy which seemed utterly removed from everyday experience and modern
issues, my thinking moved towards ecological philosophy. Throughout my
time at college, I travelled extensively through the Himalayas.
Initially trekking and sightseeing, I was drawn into community work, spending
the last trip helping take in the harvest with a family in Ladakh, Northern India with I.S.E.C. (www.isec.org.uk).
This was a very important experience; through workshops and discussion with
fellow volunteers, the wider implications of traditional Ladakhi life and its
siege by the modern world became clear.
I spent the next three years developing
my climbing and skiing, and working wherever the mountains were. With
time spent in the Cairngorms, Greenland, the Alps and the Himalayas, I
developed my knowledge and grasp of all things mountainous. However
washing dishes and being a climbing bum could not last forever!
Returning to Scotland I studied for a
MSc in Human Ecology at the Centre for Human Ecology (www.che.ac.uk),
which I gained with distinction in February 2006. With an emphasis on
engaged active study, this course was fundamental to the development of Open
this time I gained my outdoor qualifications in rock-climbing, hill-walking
and skiing, and emergency first aid. I also worked extensively as
freelancer for various charities who work in personal and social development
for inner city youth, using outdoor activities as a focus for this
Open Ground has developed through-out this time,
and I now specialise in bringing out the unique qualities of each landscape
in which I work. With projects that return over time to the same place,
people get a chance to build up a relationship with that land: the history,
current use, ecology and how we fit into the picture.
I am currently studying part time for a
PhD in Outdoor Education at Moray House, Edinburgh University. This is
looking at ‘place-based education’ and aims to create a case-study of the
approach outlined on this website. This will provide the perfect counterpart
for projects with Open Ground, allowing for development and reflection.