Once a year the sandy edge of the Nature’s Valley lagoon is transformed by a frenzy of digging and sculpturing as families and friends compete in a sandcastle competition with a difference. `The power is in our hands!’ was the title of a huge sand hand tugging open a sand zip to reveal sea shore treasures including shells, gull feathers and sea weed, but sadly also plastic.  “We can share the shore if we just care for the sea life and don’t litter”  explained an enthusiastic competitor.14-share-the-shore-power-is-in-your-hand

In December 2016 the Natures Valley Trust challenged holiday makers to build sandcastles that celebrate a positive connection between people and the sea.  The theme Share the Shore showcased actions in keeping with the Trust’s alert about threats to the endangered white fronted plovers nesting on the dunes.  Their breeding season overlaps with the migration of sun and sea loving holiday makers, and their dogs, to the coast.  Hence the call to Share the Shore and respect the needs of the creature’s that live here all year round.

After a couple of hot hours of digging interrupted by inter-generational debates on how to mold sand and where best to position shells and drift wood, the creations were ready.  For a few hours between the tides, 15-share-the-shore-size-counts-2the lagoon edge was a wonderland of sand art.  Stepping carefully between the creations, judges from the Nature’s Valley Trust and intrigued spectators listened as the exhibitors explained what Sharing the Shore meant to them.

One of my favourites was a net with a fish – called `Size Counts’.  So cleverly crafted!   A young boy explained how it was okay to catch fish to eat, as long as we ensure that we don’t catch too many or take out undersized fish.

A mermaid sand castle with a provocative and personal message won the competition.  Part human / part fish she has the credibility to appeal to us to reflect on our life style choices. In one out stretched hand she 16-share-the-shore-reflect-chooseheld a mermaid’s purse or shark egg case representing nature’s wealth.  The opposite hand held a ball of plastic litter representing a world transformed by human material wants.  At her tail a strategically placed mirror invited us to look at ourselves and reflect on the options in her outstretched hands.  The excessive materialism that disconnects us from Nature or lifestyles seeking a healthy balance with Nature.

A stepped sandcastle expanded on the theme of humans having the power to choose and make a difference.   “Our team wanted to build a classic sand castle,” laughed the young woman who presented the creation that came third in the competition.  “Our sandcastle shows humans at the top of the castle of life and yet totally dependent on the health of the underlying layers of nature supporting us.  From our position of technological dominance we also have the power to help heal nature and to share the Earth’s resources with all creatures.”

But will we?18-share-the-shore-on-top-level-dependent-on-pyramid

The enthusiasm and insight of the Nature’s Valley sandcastle builders inspires real hope. A big thank – you to the Nature’s Valley Trust. Their activities catalyze hands on connections between people and the local environment while building a sense of community that includes Nature. Just like these families and friends building sand castles together!  They could have been searching for virtual Pokémon friends or surfing the net indoors where their smart phones won’t get salty.  Instead, their sandcastle creations revealed a morning of fun and appreciation for the need to share our planet – not just so that a white fronted plover can survive but so that we have wild places to recharge our souls and a healthy ecosystem to sustain us.

Kim Kruyshaar December 2016