Today is a day that brings smiles and hopes to our CIC.
Today is the day we open our second shop on the high street and its all very exciting.
This shop is different to the one we took on in February 2019 with that one being aimed at communities and bringing benefits to those people in the community.
The new shop is aimed more at production and industry and will be promoting Circular Economy, waste reduction and how this benefits the community of Bodmin and further afield.
The simple act of taking on a second shop brings benefit in itself by filling those gaps and promoting healthy high streets. The shop had lain empty for around 8 months and although not a long time, it is central; it is now a hive of activity.
The equipment to fill it has been a journey in itself with borrowed, donated and bought at cut price enough industrial sewing machines to be able to kick off production in a short period of time. The short term aim is to increase income for this space and although production has started we think it will be 6 months before sustainability is achieved and a year before any serious profits are felt.
Profit is often not the main aim for many CIC`s and they are often community centred, as we are, but profit will need to be found in this arm of our cic / social enterprise as we try to come away from being less reliant on funding and grants in the future. We believe that profit for purpose is a good think and that any profits made from our work in the Circular Economy can and will go back into the communities we work in.
Setting this up in an area that is of social deprivation and has suffered from little investment in the past can only be a good thing as it will create those jobs and opportunities that are often missing and in high demand. Paying a wage that can be lived on is also a very important part of the structure of our organisation and we have set out clear goals to be able to do this.
At present we are in serious talks with numerous companies based in the SW who are looking to find ways to reduce their waste textiles either through their production methods or through their end user waste. We offer a solution that not only offers real benefit to them but to the communities we are based in. This tells a great story and a `Win Win` for everyone involved. The benefit to companies involved with this is often very financially favourable as they eliminate or reduce their waste costs whilst the environment is gains from diversion from landfill and incineration as at times this for some has been the only other options.
We still have a long way to go before we are fully sustainable and the journey there will be interesting and its including employing more staff, working with more partners on waste reduction and actually fully equipping the space we have creating in our vision on bringing Circular Economy to the high street.
If you would like to find out more, reduce your textile or other waste, join us in creating a future that is both meaningful and of great purpose while simultaneously building more resilient and stronger communities, then get in touch or better still, come and join us and see how we are doing things.
Join us to celebrate the amazing things happening in Cornish communities and create a shared imagination of what the future could look like!
About this Event
What if we could see all of the positive things happening in communities across Cornwall? What if we were all connected, and could share ideas, resources and questions? What would that look like, and what would it take to get there?
All are welcome to this free event to celebrate the often invisible people, projects and ideas which make our communities so special. You'll get inspired by people you've never met before, make new connections for sharing advice and support, and be invited to imagine what the future of communities in Cornwall could be.
The event will be fun, friendly and relaxed, with a mixture of discussions, talks and activities.
We'll provide a lunch (with vegetarian and vegan options), and to ensure that the free places are held for community members, we ask that anyone coming in a professional capacity donates £10 for their food.
While the event will take place at the Visitor Centre, you are welcome to explore the site after 4pm, before Eden closes at 6pm.
For the tickets please go here
Over the last week we managed to spend 5 of those in a field in west Cornwall. Healey`s Farm was the venue and the Cider and Music Festival was the event.
This little festival has grown over the years but it has kept it soul and friendliness well intact. The fun starts for the public at mid day on Friday and its all over by midnight on Sunday. What goes on in-between those times is epic, is fun and is what is just needed after a long and hectic summer in Cornwall.
We go down on the Thursday to set up as we have a 3 meter x 6 meter marquee that we dress with lights, carpets, wall hangings and we even bring the leather sofa with us! This year we had a better idea of what to expect and we were well prepared for it. Stock had been made and created over the last few months, ideas had brought new workshops into life and we had a WOW with us this year to help us along in the form of a Solar Powered Sewing Machine !
With the help of a friend who managed Solar Power Farms across the UK, he managed to help create a Solar System that would power our Sewing Machines, off Grid and just about anywhere. The system would give us around 18 hours continuous energy with sun and years with. We needed it for the weekend and it did just that, it powered all our repairs and workshops over the weekend and all topped up by the Sun of which we had in large amounts. To say it was fun would be an understatement, as it grew lots of interest, requests to replicate and increased both repairs and workshops due to it being unique. I mean, who wouldn’t want a go on a solar powered sewing machine, in a field, in west Cornwall while listening to great music and drinking pineapple Rattlers on draft.
What we like most about this festival are the people who attend. (Although the organisers are kinda cool as well). The families who turn up seem to bring big smiles from miles around and really are interested in what we do and they turn up and join in. They like what we offer and we know this because they not only tell us but the participation we receive grows each year.
Headline acts this year were The Zutons and Reef and they rocked! It seemed like the whole audience knew and sang along to the bands and huge applause came after the songs. Once they were over there were Silent Discos, Secret Gin Gardens and other hangout found via going through wardrobes (thoughts of Narnia appeared) dotted all out the event site. Day time activates included the Rattlers Olympics, children play areas, foraging, yoga, sofa racing all mixed in with such wonderful street food from vendors. We think the Thai food was the best and the coffee from the airstream was hard to beat but that was only our opinion as the other traders seemed to have full lines of people most of the time.
All in all we simply had the best of time there and hope we get to go back next year.
We have just spent the day plotting and planning the delivery of new workshops in Wadebridge.
With the fantastic the support of Wadebridge Town Council and the determination of Robyn Harris, who will be heading up the workshops and activities there, we will now be able to start delivering textile related workshops that will be in the heart of the community and for the community. Robyn is best placed for this we believe as she spends her time as a local councillor finding ways to bring benefit to those living in Wadebridge and when she is not doing that then she is sewing and creating magic from textiles.
The workshops we will be holding can be found in the town Library from October and our menu of activities are below. The funding to enable this to happen has come through our Reaching Communities Award from The Lottery and it is for exactly this, Reaching Communities.
If you would like to take part, join in or simply anything else please message us to see if we can help.
These activities we hope are just the beginning and if the initial demand continues or grows we hope to have a place full time in Wadebridge so if you come along and support it then that just might happen.
Today started with some great news, I (Harry) have been shortlisted among 3 finalists from across the UK for Young Leader of the Year in the Groundwork Community Awards. I have been invited back to the London in November for the award ceremony, clearly last year we didn’t offend anyone with our more radical views, to the point that once again I will be hosted for an evening of celebrating all the great community work happening across the UK.
Everyone seems to ask the same questions; how does it feel? To be honest, I don’t know, I wouldn’t have said the news has sunk in yet and as I have some time off over the next few weeks I am sure my opinion will change as I reflect on what this could mean to me. For now, it feels great, after countless sleepless nights, added stresses and months of living on the breadline, recognition for my drive to make change and the efforts I have been putting in make it all worthwhile. Myself and for that matter, everyone that we work with, very rarely get opportunities to celebrate what we have achieved so, we do find awards are a great way of rewarding ourselves, from the networking and connections they provide to the opportunity to go somewhere out of the normal routine is a brilliant way to celebrate our success. While the further credibility awards like this bring, help position us well to expand our work and grow the positive impact we have on our community, it also allows us to have a greater influence on key decision-makers, making it much easier to bring about systematic change.
As I write this blog my excitement is growing and I am very much looking forward to the ceremony, seeing those from previous years again and meeting many new faces. It’s a great feeling to think that my work has inspired others and that I have been able to support numerous young people in realising their vision and aspirations. This year has definitely been a transformative one for us at Cultivate Cornwall and without support from people like The National Lottery Fund, my amazing team of mentors and Eden Project Communities, just to name a few, I struggle to see this becoming a reality. It has shown me the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and without their helping hand, taking the leaps forward that have amounted this year, would have never been possible. Yes, I am sure we would have progressed and achieved some great results but, to this scale and with such an impact, I find it hard to believe.
But this is still only the beginning, at the end of the day, I am only 23 and hope that each year that passes I can have a more substantial positive impact on the communities we support. Plans are in place for progression over the coming years and I have some big ideas that I hope to realise. To date much of our work has benefited local communities so next I want to look at how to generate change on a regional, national and international level as that is what is needed. The challenges faced by us all, particularly the younger generations are unprecedented and require a shift in almost every aspect of modern-day life, I have now shown that we can lead this change on a local level so next that impact needs to be scaled far and wide.
I want to finish by saying thank you to whoever it was that nominated me, this mornings email came as a pleasant surprise. This will help motivate me to continue the work we do, not that I was planning on stopping but, on those not so great days, this will give me something to look back on and reignite my passion and drive and as a reminder that what we are doing is so important to so many. Fingers crossed for the day but finishing in the top 3 in a UK wide award is good enough for me!
During the summer break from school we had a brilliant opportunity to work with a group of very enthusiastic young people in Liskeard, Cornwall. This was enabled by Clair from the Lighthouse CIC who is very active in Liskeard and who is constantly seeking opportunities for young people of the town.
We had previously visited with them after they attended one of our events and expressed an interested in us doing workshops based around sewing in their town. So we came to visit them and worked out a series of workshops that could run during the holidays, that would be fun and creative and that they would gain experiences from taking part. We basically created an Eco Fashion Show that would enable them to make clothing and upcycle / recycle clothing that would be warn in a Fashion show and for them to show the fantastic creations they made.
We started the sessions on the first week of the holidays with an army of 6 tutors and volunteers who could bring the young, fresh ideas into life. This was headed up by Anna one of our head seamstresses, who took the lead and organised the weekly sessions that had been planned out. The weeks consisted of de-logo-ing and remaking Tee Shirts that had been donated by such companies as Fluid Branding and Eden Project Communities, Up-cycling and re-freshing items of clothing that they already owned and one week we gave everyone some money and went charity shopping where clothes were bought, up cycled and prepared for the show.
The Show itself was held on the 31st August and had a huge turnout of friends, family and local dignitaries that included the Mayor of Liskeard who really enjoyed herself.
In all we had 18 girls and 3 boys take part in creating Eco Fashion, all had a wonderful experience and gained from the opportunity that could clearly been seen from the main event – the catwalk and the huge smiles they wore whilst showing off their creations.
The event not just gave experience for the young people but also the more mature leaders and those that taught how to sew during the project. To have young minds guiding the mature seamstresses on what they wanted and to help bring the creations to life was real benefit on both sides. This also enabled the younger people to learn the skills that some already have taken home with them and put into use.
All in all it was a real success for all involved and we want to do more in Liskeard as they have expressed to us about continuing there. What we do will be planned over the next few months and we will keep you informed on events and how you can also be involved.
Huge thanks must go to Clair from Lighthouse cic and the people of Liskeard that helped this to happen.
The Youth have taken over !
This week we tried something different and it was simply excellent.
This week for a day the youth took over!
On the day we had 2 groups come to join us and they really had fun. Half went to set up a coding club, brought their Raspberry Pi, Arduino`s, top hats, boards and monitors and set out to discover and share their knowledge amongst each other. This first session was based around getting to know each other and getting to know what we know. They set the session on what they wanted to do and they set the rules. During the day they discovered what they were missing, what they would like to help them along and I am sure we will get a shopping list to match. What we discovered was the fun they had that matched their enthusiasm when it came to coding. By the end of the day it was set out for how they would like to continue and an after school club was set up to start running from next week. Small weekly groups to start with as we are limited with resources but over the next few weeks we think it will find its feet more solid and come up with some great achievements.
The 2nd group of young people are not new to us but have had a break for the summer and were so eager to return. This group is more textiles based and know what they want. They generally want upcycled and reworked clothes that they often bring in and full of ideas of what they want to make. We are there simply to help their ideas come to reality. What get created normally gets worn and with pride. I made that and it comes with a smile. What they also bring is the fresh ideas and its infectious, we breath it in and want more. Their youthful ideas are often what we need and we end the day feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and rewarded.
Both of these sessions are planned to run over the winter months and its great to see that its not just them that are benefiting from the activities. My idea is to mix the 2 somehow and find ways to have the textiles worked in with coding to make wonder and wow.. Light show events will be running during winter here in Cornwall so it would be brilliant if we could do something there to show off their work. Watch this space.
Over the last few weeks we have had quite a few requests to lead talks about what we do, how, and why. By chance 2 of the most recent both happened this week. The first of these was also a new experience for us, delivering a talk via webcam for a training program taking place in Romania. The training was based around young people in business and of course we were happy to share our learning if it could in anyway help them in realising their visions. The talk was part of an Erasmus course, to about 30 people from a whole range of European countries.
The discussion was themed heavily around the circular economy and how other communities could embrace a more circular approach to benefit their communities. Whether that be through textile waste, in a similar way to we work with Tex or other resources from food to skills. We explored how we can use our resources more efficiently and how we can sustainably manage what is currently classed as waste in a way that brings value to our communities addressing the varied needs that are faced by different communities across Europe.
Overall the talk went well, to the point we have been asked back to help with future talks and training. The only bit that went over the allocated time was when we were reflecting on the conversation points which showed that everyone had been able to take a lot of value from the conversation and develop ideas they can implement in their own communities after their return home.
For a while now we have been wanting to find more ways of sharing our learning and through talks was one of the key methods we had highlighted, not only does it allow us to share our learning with others but also it helps us build our own credibility within the industry, but more than that through talks we find that we often get asked challenging questions that give us time to be critical about our approach and ensuring the steps we take are the best ones to take. That different perspective that is often missed from within the walls of TeX and through these discussions we can open up the decision we take, our ideas and perceptions to people from the wider community to challenge what we do which helps us ensure that we take the right approach to create the biggest impact and greatest positive change we can.
The Second talk of the week saw Harry return back to Falmouth University, just over a year after his graduation, but this time not as a student but as an expert, business school alumni and a success story to have come out of the university. He was invited back to share his journey and experience and what he had learnt along the way, this time a smaller group of just over a dozen but a group that were extremely engaged, always ready to ask their next question and equally prepared to listen and really consider everything I said.
We have since been told that the Business Entrepreneurship undergraduates took huge value from what Harry discussed which in our opinion makes it a success and we are glad that we have been able to give back to what is ultimately the course that ultimately inspired and enabled Cultivate Cornwall CIC to become a reality. The last year since Harry has graduated has been completely transformational for us and it was great to be able to share that journey those who in a year or so’s time will hopefully be in a similar position to us.
As we go forward, we will continue to look for more opportunities to talk and share knowledge, with the first few out the way it is not so daunting anymore. Sharing our learning and supporting others is core to our vales, through talks we hope we will be able to grow both personally and as a credible organisation but also, to inspire others and help them to see the opportunities and understand the lessons and learning we have gone through as part of our journey so far.
After we left Stir to Action (see previous blog) we travelled up to Stroud in Gloucestershire to take part in Seed Festival - a festival for Planting Big Ideas. We were invited by Semble who are a bridge between Big Corps and Community Groups and we were asked if we could run 2 sessions on the Saturday and Sunday. Knowing the quality that Semble produce from previous experience at Off line Festival they ran, we were more than happy to agree. Our sessions were talks that included – Textile Waste Action on the Saturday and on the Sunday we talked about the benefit to communities we bring and – Products for Purpose.
We are at a crossroads, and with growing environmental and political challenges around the world there has perhaps never been a more crucial time to come together and act with our future - and the planet - in mind and with this in mind we set off.
Seed Festival is based in Hawkwood House and grounds that are simply bliss, a real retreat. Hawkwood’s Seed Festival 19-21 July celebrates courageous leadership, creative expression and innovation in partnership with our natural world. Future thinking speakers include BBC Springwatch’s Gillan Addon , Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook, Soil Association’s Helen Browning, RSA’s Matthew Taylor, C40 cities’ Rachel Huxley, Permaculture Legend Maddy Harland , Roman Krznaric founder of Empathy Museum, Alison Tickell Julie’s Bicycle founder, Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth, Rob Hopkins - Transition Network as a start and then we could be found off to one side at the Round House, supporting Semble and taking our story to a wider audience. For us it was a big thing as back in Cornwall our community knows what we do through constant updates, events and the actions we take. They get it and they join in. Here at Seed it was a push out of our comfort zone but in a good way and it enabled us to gauge reaction to our story, of what we have created and the future we are planning to take. Our future…. Team Tex in particular.
Besides all the inspiring speakers, awesome music, hive minds and crucial conversations we had the time to roam, connect and discover what others are doing. We were drawn towards Lush who were presenting Film and their Film Fund where they mainly support 3 key areas and all seemingly around Activism. Impressed so much by them we came away with the plans to apply later in August and details will be announced later.
Over a casual lunch on the terrace we happened to sit with Mike Berners-Lee, author of There Is No Planet B and a simple hello before to returning to much down on the earthly delights on offer there. Later and another encounter saw Mary Portas walking among the festival, at ease and seemingly enjoy the site in all its glory. We kind of admire some of her ways and she previously made us think in some way about the future of the high street and the need for more community engagement to take place. This probably helped us with the idea of opening our shop in the town centre and to run events that simply bring people in, (we make very few sales from the shop and mainly use it to bring community engagement and more people into town) The whole weekend was made up with encounters like this, Some we knew and many we didn’t but do now. Our greatest connections came from the Semble Team who were running the Round House area and had numerous people from community groups to help them along the weekend with activities from seed bomb making, rock painting, drum circles and us who with a back drop of pants from our previous workshops managed to engage and captivate two good crowds on both days to took to stage. Semble really looked after us and created the space for us to shine. They fed us breakfast, introduced us to their team and so many others with promises of trips to Cornwall for workshops and bbqs and ideas flung around by all that we hope get followed up.
We left Seed and Semble late on Sunday afternoon for the 4 hour drive back to Cornwall and back to reality. The drive gave us both the time to reflect and to plan. On reflection the weekend reminded me in many ways of my degree I took 2 years ago and that it was based around ` Leading from the Emerging Future` which now seems more relevant than ever. Leading from the Emerging Future- From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer - have a read, its not too over complicated and if a boy from the wrong end of town can understand it then I’m quite sure others will too. http://www.ottoscharmer.com/sites/default/files/e2e_ulab.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0bPDfV9iOXTjBDC5t2uyzxObZVxg8lN7ZUfNHfoQYXw9SEDucTSsZcxOE
Our week away, first to Stir to Action Festival (the Playground for the New Economy) and then to Seed Festival (Planting Big Ideas) gave us both a huge amount to take in, to take action on and to build the future of Cultivate Cornwall and TeX. Our best learning came from around the camp fires and coffee tables and both memories and connections will remain with us for many years to come.
The Stir to Action Festival is a unique three days of inspiring conversations, participatory theatre, live podcasts, interactive workshops, idea surgeries, sustainable food, craft beer, and, of course, live music!
For us it started a few months before while looking at the direction of TeX and pushing around ideas of Social Franchising. We knew we wanted to discover more and other ideas along those lines and when the chance to attend Stir appeared we simply snapped it up and not long after we found ourselves in a field with a few hundred like minded souls. For more validation, if it were needed, a great and trusted friend who found we were going booked her tickets and flew in from Northern Ireland and we just had to go and meet her at the airport and chauffeur her to the festival and it was so good to be able to catch up in face after a year of absence.
We are new to Stir to Action and when we found that they are a worker owned magazine that have gone from online (they also print) to off line and in a field to try something new this year, we wanted to go and learn more. Jonny, the face of Stir, was there to greet us on arrival and although we had never met he knew my name and gave a very warm welcome. It’s these things that confirmed to me that we were in the right place. They look up and look into the attendees and its personal, it`s a good thing and that extra bit is a great welcoming entrance and i am so glad it happened as now feel a great connection with Stir to Action and we hope more to come in the future.
The mid-week festival ( Tuesday – Thursday night) is packed with so much to do, from inspiring talks on 2 stages, a marquee filled with book sellers, pod casters, co ops and crowdfunders + an actual boat where you can `float your ideas` and this is where we found ourselves on the Wednesday afternoon. We have this idea of expansion through social franchising and we headed to the Boat to float the idea to gauge interest, gain ideas and the crucial feedback from industry leaders and others creating social impact. Industry leaders at Stir were a plenty and included Power to Change, Crowdfunder, Kindness Foundation, Lankelly Chase amongst the ones we knew and to be able to give idea to these people and to gain insightful feedback (that we have already started to put into place) was well worth the 3 days in a tent in a field with long drops for toilets!
Actually that makes the camping sound a bit harsh and in reality it’s far from it. The site is well laid out, level, very green and tree lined + a pond to swim in. There is a Glamping area and a general camping area that includes space for campervans. Good toilets and long drops for a real experience, hot showers and clean washing up areas, in fact everything that you need to make it a good experience al laround.The main star of the camping was a hidden gem of a converted airplane into a glamping pod that Stir organisers held a competition on facebook to win the stay of the festival in there! How cool that would have been but sadly we didn’t win and could only admire from afar and from across the soon to harvest cornfield that separated us. One day i will return and sleep in the airplane for sure!
The whole time there was spent in conversations with passion and in directions that are often missed in day to day lives as we are too wrapped up in work, family and the pressures that life often brings. This festival gave space and ability for these much needed conversations to take place and having the right people there enabled it to happen. I spoke to everyone that would include anarchists to far lefts, Buddhist and Eco warriors, hard core Xr`s and people who deal in burn out and mindfulness and each and everyone had a smile and time to give either in mutual conversation, advice or an ear to listen. Companies and individuals from all walks of life, no one felt judged and everyone looked at ease apart from when the new economy was being talked about. What was it? What form does this new economy take? How does it work? When will we have it? Then the seriousness came out in people. Those that attended seemed desperate for change and many are making those so needed changes in their communities. The talks enabled the thoughts to surface, the shaping of those ideas and ideas to put into action. It gave the courage to try and the fact that what we have in place is just not working so what do we have to lose. For us it gave us connections that will be a great help as we take direction with TeX and build our circular economy model that we have taken and to the direction of social franchising that will enable expansion that is so far removed from the normal route of franchising. Basically we think we need to be able to give it away so we can keep it.
For us there are always highlights when we attend events like this and there were plenty here to be had and they started even before the gates opened; From meeting close and wonderful friends at the airport and those positive vibes that go with it to the numerous new friends that were made there. Micky who taught me about solar powered sewing machines that my eager son will be building as a back yard project, to Joe who is a hive of info that will really help in pointing us in the directions we need, Hugh who greeted us with Pizza as we were setting up and really practices what he preaches – Kindness, Roxy who we really hopes takes a trip to Cornwall later this year and helps us shape a festival that brings connections and stronger communities across the SW, Joseph who camped next to us and was not just simply nice but a great connector of people and Peter who told us about Stir in the first place and opened our eyes to a great event and all that goes with it. There was so much more that hasn’t been mentioned that we hope continues with the offers of visits to our shop and to collaborate on film for the future and to inspire.
Inspired is the word that sums up Stir to action completely.
It was their first but we so hope not their last Festival. It works, don’t change a thing and get me in that airplane next time.
Huge thank to Jonny and his great team who was there to help with every need.
Our blog is designed to keep you up to date on Cultivate Cornwall news and all the different projects we are working on.