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.
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