Good evening and welcome!

This week at the Treehouse we are thrilled to bring you an article by our guest writer, Kate Fletcher.  Kate lives in Bollington and is Professor of Sustainability, Design and Fashion at London College of Fashion. Her latest books are about fashion and nature. Here, she talks to us about the simple but fundamental act of Noticing. We have felt both moved and inspired by her piece… and we think you will be too – enjoy! 

The Treehouse Gang.

On Noticing

The poet Kathleen Jamie was recently appointed as makar – Scotland’s national poet. In a short piece in The Guardian, Jamie spoke, among other things, about the radical potential of noticing. She even called it a political act. She is right, yet again. Noticing is powerful. It is also a game changer for connecting us to the world around us. And it doesn’t take money or fancy equipment to make it happen.

I think it works like this: 

Noticing, and by this I mean, actively directing our interest and attention at something – like the place where we live – kickstarts a process of engagement. Admittedly this is often small at first, tiny moments where we suddenly see something we hadn’t before. Like the way sycamore trees hold their heavy summer leaves in florets, like heads of broccoli. Or the ermine down that tall thistles at the foot of White Nancy produce and which frost car windows. Or the way that, in late summer, bees and butterflies take over from birds as the sovereigns of Bollington’s air.

Noticing something once can quickly spill over into seeing that same thing again and again or seeing other, similar or different things. Before we know it we start to get drawn into what is going on in all parts of our community and we begin to feel somehow part of it and its unfolding story. It is like spinning a web of attention and holding it wide open to the place where we live. For me, noticing then helps to see our lives as tangled together – me and this thing, part of the same life. 

Psychologists have long told us that when we know something better, when something is more real and familiar to us, we are less willing to inflict harm upon it. And that the opposite holds true too: that the greater the distance between us as another thing, person, place or creature, the easier we find it to disassociate, to cause damage, to care less.

Noticing reverses this. It builds connection, it is a ready ally of caring more. Noticing is a bit like a muscle. We need to flex it, work it, enjoy the power it gives us. It is not just useful for caring about the hills and birds, it can also be trained on material goods like for instance, what we wear. Noticing is kin with appreciation, with developing understanding of how a garment is made, what it can do, how it can be worn, washed, worn again, repaired. Noticing is the first step in a bigger journey of valuing and satisfaction across many parts of our lives. This is why noticing is a political act. It is about how we choose to live. 

I remember once hearing about the experience of a San Bushman of the Kalahari in Southern Africa who said that if he sees a small bird, but doesn’t recognize it, there is no thin thread. But every time he sees and recognizes the bird, the thread strengthens. Eventually it grows into a string, then a cord, and finally a rope. Noticing helps us make ropes of connection that bind ourselves together with the world in which we live, on whose fate we depend.

Further Links:


  • 23rd October: Grow Macclesfield's ONE Projects Halloween Spooktacular 🎃. 
  • 31st October: It's 2 weeks until the COP26 summit. Have you made your pledges for the 12 days of COP? 
  • From 3rd November: Hello Velo! are offering free bike maintenance and confidence building sessions for ladies 
  • The local XR group are working hard trying to prevent a Bellway housing estate being built on an important nature reserve site in Macclesfield – visit their Facebook page if you would like to show your support or get involved.
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