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Image by jewad alnabi

The 
Story 
(so far)

My name is Luke Warner and I am a certified Nature & Forest Therapy Guide living in Joshua Tree, CA on lands traditionally stewarded by Yuhaaviatam/ Maarenga’yam & Newe Sogobia peoples. 

 

Here's a little bit about what brought me to guiding and what I try to bring to guiding. Just watch your step as it's a rocky and winding path. 

 

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1990s I was lucky enough to go to sleep-away camp nearly every year and, although there were challenges, I knew then that spending time so close to the nature was special and important to me. This was my opportunity to try new things, express myself in ways I had not before and experience being seen by the more-than-human world. At 16 I left the US for boarding school in a dense, fern-laden forest in the South of England. I would sometimes walk the two miles from class to my boarding house through the Surrey Hills which is officially designated (in very British fashion) as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty." These walks are what I remember most about my time there.

In the years that followed I got a degree in Art History, moved back to the US and worked within indigenous environmental justice communities and other environmental movements. I traveled extensively, moved back to London, got another degree (a MSc in Risk Analysis) and worked mainly in operations for various charities.

In 2018 I volunteered as a counselor at a youth summer camp session for the first time. It was there that I saw again the power and promise of connecting directly with nature - especially for young people and those who feel outside of mainstream society. I remembered the moments when I felt most free and most understood and it was always when I was outside of society. I saw how modern life was moving us farther from our original home in nature and how this is affecting us all.

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In 2020, I joined a virtual forest bathing walk and took part in something that I saw as an honorable and authentic way to experience the world around us. I knew that my guide had something special to offer, they invited us into our own unique relationships with the natural world and I wanted to offer this to others too. So I applied for the six-month guide training offered by the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides. As it turned out I was able to train under the guide from my virtual walk and have since assisted them at other trainings. I also trained as a Natural Mindfulness Guide. 

Being a certified forest and nature therapy guide offers both structure and flexibility to work in different settings with diverse groups. As guides we gather invitations from the more-than-human world around us and offer these to the folks we are accompanying on a walk. I have guided in-person groups as well as regular online natural kinship groups with teenagers. I have worked with folks ranging from gyms to local LGBTQ+ charities and, of course, I still volunteer at camps every summer. 

Some Kind Words

“Luke delivered a session for my LGBTQ+ youth group over zoom during the pandemic. So many of the young people had been feeling stressed, isolated, and disconnected from nature. Whilst Portsmouth is a seaside city, the day-to-day life of these young people involves very little opportunity for nature and greenery. Luke's choice of poetry, writings and images was absolutely beautiful. Despite being sat at their screens, young people were transported to someplace more wild, more serene. All of them said they'd love to do this again.”

— Jake, he/him

The forest bathing walk was just what I needed! Luke's gentle invitations and guidance to really notice the world around us helped me feel deeply grounded in both the present moment, and the long history of the woods we were in. I went home feeling refreshed and exhilarated, and much more in tune with my real self.

- Raven, they/them

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