Alan Heeks is a writer, pioneer and group leader with a passion for wellbeing, resilience, sustainability, and how we can learn about them from nature. Over the past 20 years he has created two pioneering education centres where people can learn from nature: a conservation woodland and an organic farm, where he has led many groups, and which have inspired his books. His work is currently focused in three main areas:

  • Natural Happiness – the Gardener’s Way: Alan’s forthcoming third book shows how people can grow their own happiness using parallels with organic gardening and farming, such as composting, mulching, and co-creating. See more at www.naturalhappiness.net.
  • Maturing Happily: Alan has been exploring this theme since his own midlife crisis in his early fifties. He has co-led both mixed and men’s groups on creative ageing, and has explored this theme in his writing. This includes his new planned book, Not Fade Away – staying happy when you’re over 64!, and his second book, Out of the Woods: a guide to life for men beyond 50. For more about Alan’s current work on maturing happily, click here, for blogs on this theme click here, for more about Out of the Woods click here.
  • Nourishing the front line: Alan is part of a small team offering life and work skills for resilience to organisations, individuals and communities, with a special focus on learning from nature. See more about Wisdom Tree and their work here.

Learning From Natural Systems

Since 1990, Alan has initiated and led the creation of three pioneering land-based education centres: a 130-acre organic farm, a 70-acre wood, and a cohousing neighbourhood.

Through years of involvement with organic farming, gardening and sustainable forestry eco-systems is a powerful model for wellbeing and resilience Alan has evolved a distinctive approach. Alan’s first book explored this model for people and teams at work: The Natural Advantage: Renewing Yourself – click here for more about the book.

Alan’s forthcoming book explores this approach using gardening as the model: Natural Happiness: the Gardener’s Way shows how gardening methods like composting, mulching, as well as observation and co-creativity, can help people to grow their own happiness too. To see more click here.

You can find out more on our events and resources pages.


Maturing Happily

There are 22 million people over 50 in the UK: that’s one third of the whole population. Yet we all live in a culture that idealises youth. The midlife years, say 45 to 65, and the ‘early older’ years, say 65 to 75 plus, are times of huge change. These life stages can offer us new freedoms and choices, but often bring losses and challenges that need facing.

I have been exploring these issues since my own midlife crisis began with the end of my first, 28-year marriage at the age of 49. I’ve written extensively, and have co-led both mixed and mens’ groups on creative ageing, at the Findhorn Foundation, Hazel Hill and elsewhere.

My second book, Out of the Woods: a guide to life for men beyond 50, has a lot of useful material for men and women, age 45 to 75 plus: to see more, click here. For my blogs on creative ageing, click here.

I’ve now turned 68, and realise I’m nervous about my 70’s. So I’m working on a new book: Not Fade Away – Staying happy when you’re  over 64! If you’d like to be a trial reader, or share your experience, please contact me. To see more about the book, click here.


Out of the Woods

Out of the Woods: A guide to life for men beyond 50

Midlife and beyond can be the most fun a man has ever had… but when the roles that define men dissolve – work, marriage, fatherhood – it’s a time of huge possibility and freedom, but also a time when it’s easy to feel lost, with nowhere to turn.

This book is a guide for the maturing man: it gathers the best wisdom and experience on enjoying these years to the full, and on the skills you need to handle the losses, shipwrecks and crises – and find your way out of the woods. It offers insights, inspiration, practical advice and resources for further help. Many women have also found it helpful, both for themselves, and in understanding the men around them.
Buy the book

For more information about the book and contents click here.


Hazel Hill Wood

Alan in front of the Forest Ark at Hazel Hill Wood

Alan in front of the Forest Ark at Hazel Hill Wood

 

Hazel Hill is a magical 70-acre conservation woodland education centre near Salisbury, which Alan has created since buying the wood in 1987. It has been used by a wide variety of personal development, education and retreat groups over the years, including many groups co-led by Alan himself. In 2015, Alan gifted the ownership of the wood to a new registered charity, Hazel Hill Trust, of which he is chairman. To see more about the wood and the calendar of events click here.