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.
Last night our minds were blown after winning the Circular Economy award at Cornwall Business Awards. The reality of this is still yet to sink in but we wanted to put a little something together to share for you what is for us so unbelievably exciting and very much worth celebrating.
We want to start by saying thank you to Cornwall business awards and Tevi for recognising the importance of circular approach to Business. We often see Cornwall is leading the way for environmental responsibility and creating this new circular economy award goes a long way in recognising sustainable approaches to resource consumption taken by companies in Cornwall. And also to Lottery Community Fund that has enabled us to work in the heart of the community and build stronger , more connected communities.
Over the last year so we have worked with numerous businesses, supporting them and re-purposing their textile waste, some of which have now completely eliminated all of their fabric waste. This is shown us that when we work together, we can create the change those needed. Just last night in addition to us, there is Odyssey innovation, re-purposing plastics who won the Pirate FM’s Award, Oltco, who won best product for their innovative approach to reusing hard to recyclable plastics and Tinkebu using reclaimed materials, equally deserving of the recognition this Circular economy award nomination.
But this is only the beginning, 72% of textiles still never gets recycled, the UK is still sending the equivalent of a bin lorry fusible fabric to landfill or incineration every 20 minutes. Though our work is beginning to pay off. Awards like this make a real difference, providing recognition to our work. Working together on Cornwall, the place that inspired are search for approach, we believe that the Cornwall Business Awards will support us in working collaboratively to create the solutions to the greatest threats we have ever faced.
We were honestly not expecting to come and weigh with anything, so this is surpassed any expectations we had had. This award will give us a huge push forward. We are excited by the doors it will open and the opportunities it will create. We hope that everyone that came to the event can take more away from this award than us. The award was given to an organisation that considers people and the community it works, and the planet before it considers profit. We hope this opens new ideas to business so they can also commit to supporting the planet and are Cornish communities.
This for us could have not come at a better time, today people across Europe and sweltered in record temperatures. Last week the government rejected EAC proposals for tacking sustainability in fashion, and industry which we are closely aligned. They will consider it again in 6 years, for now, the buck has been passed to us, businesses to create the changes that are needed, in 6 years it will be too late. In the words of Greta Thunberg our house is burning down. The time for business to act is now.
So we as a community led, profit for purpose business hope that businesses come away from these awards and act right away, the best time to act was 30 years ago, the next best time is now. We need to be radical for, our house is burning down. But there is hope, if we are quickly, if we come together and if we are radical, we can stop this house from burning down. And we believe, that if we work collectively and stop procrastinating, the change that is needed will happen.
You may or may not know that we have been shortlisted for an award this year. The award is for `Best Business of the Year`.
All the finalist businesses from across 14 categories are competing for the vote to be crowned Business of the Year for 2019 at the Cornwall Business Awards and we are one of them!
In fact we are simply blown away that we have been shortlisted. For us, it’s all about the communities we live in and how we can use Circular Economy to benefit the community around us.
As a CIC (community interest company) and a profit for purpose business, we think it would be really cool if a CIC could win over the `For Profit` businesses that are nominated and lead the way in highlighting the community businesses that are really doing fantastic work. There is no monetary gain for us in this but it would really highlight the work CICs and `Not for Profits` undertake. It would start conversations they may be missing and we would hope it will help shape the future in some way. We work with business textile waste and we use this to benefit our communities by making opportunities including; free workshops and teaching sewing lessons, in employment, eco products and environmental issues. We have diverted from landfill over 7 tons of textiles in 2108 and some businesses who we work with are now zero waste and our communities are better for it in many ways. A vote for us is a vote for change and for the idea of doing things different, its a boost for community businesses everywhere and it opens up minds for a new way of thinking.
Its 1 click and less than 1 minute of your time to make the change you want to see.
Hit the button and Vote for Cultivate Cornwall cic
WoW .. Just WoW..
We have just got back from 4 days in a field in Cornwall and it was just WoW..
The field was actually the grounds of a stately home and complete with Gin Garden, Wooded and Forest areas where Silent Discos were held along with Hot Tubs and glamping galore!
It is described as a Garden Party and yep, we agree with that, just one big garden party that brings together 1000`s of people to dance, sing, play and create. They also eat, drink and dress up in such fantastic ways and I think that they do this much much better here compared to other festivals.
We were there as traders and for entertainment if that is the right word? We offered free repairs to festival goers over the weekend that saw dozens of repairs happen and some very happy people after. Items included shorts, jeans, tops, buttons and patches. The only thing we couldn’t repair was an awning as it was still being used and slept in, they will be bringing it to the shop at a later date to be fixed and this is good in our books.
We also ran free workshops that included flower hairbands, embroidery and jewellery, lots of jewellery making was done during the weekend. These were aimed at all ages and abilities but it seemed to be mainly children and especially so during a the short period of drizzle on Sunday morning.
The festival gives us chance to sell a few items of clothing that we make, remake and rework. The money that is made there goes back to our cic where we use it for community benefit in various ways. Being not for profit, that little extra income goes a long long way and really makes a difference. We use some of this for extra workshops where we teach sewing and skills to people who don’t normally get chance. We do this on the high street, in the heart of the community and like all our workshops, we aim to do this for free.
The highlight for the weekend was a visit from Tim Booth and some of his group. I must confess at this point that I simply didn’t recognise him but like all our customers we had fun, told a little of our story and what is behind the TeX project and treated him no different to anyone else we saw over the weekend. He went on to buy a jacket from us and it made an appearance on stage later that evening, so now we can claim the fame of clothing worn by the stars or so we like to think. It made our day though and rightly so and Tim Booth and his team; We think you are great and what a fantastic show you put on at The Great Estate! (If you haven’t worked it out yet.. Tim Booth is James, the headline act at this year’s festival)
Being human we tend to judge things in life and at events and here is no different. We don’t judge people and here we judged the amount of litter left each day as we are often some of the first in to open shop in the morning and there simply is a very little litter problem. It doesn’t happen here. The same came when we were taking down our shop on the Monday whilst looking over the camping area that previously help 1000`s of campers.. No tents left behind, rubbish neatly stacked in sacks to be collected and very little debris at all. It was a real pleasure to see this after the bad press that generally goes around after a festival or large gathering.
I think I am right in saying that The Great Estate sold out this year in camping, weekend and day tickets and rightly so. It really is a brilliant thing to happen in Cornwall and the organisers have got this right. They manage it well and produce a weekend of stress free fun. It caters for all ages, tastes and desires. Its affordable for many and its local ( to us) so what’s not to love. We hope to be there for many years to come as we simply love the atmosphere and people that we find there.
Hats off to Team Great Estate.. You got it right this year just like you have in the past !
oh, and if you are reading this and have never been there.. I suggest you check it out and get your tickets when you can as I am sure it will sell out next year again.
Last week we tried something quite daring in our town by holding its first Swish on the High Street.
Swishing is the easy way to update your wardrobe! It`s guilt free shopping with no cost to your wallet and great for the environment. Swishing works like a giant clothes swap: you bring items you no longer wear and exchange them for something new-to-you! No money changes hands, clothes get reused, diverted from landfill and it really brings people together.
In a nutshell .. Free clothes on the High Street.
We were unsure how this was going to work with people and their reactions and especially those new to Swish and then we have the traders in Town who work hard and the last thing we would like to do it take trade from them.
As with all our Swishes, we arrive a few hours early with a team made up of staff and volunteers and we spend the next 3 hours hanging hundreds and hundreds of items of clothing on rails. If we are fast enough we manage tea before we open it up to the public to join in with the event. The rails were bulging and we even brought in extra tables to lay out childrens wear and the accessories like shoes and boots.
The time arrived and 1 oclock we opened up, People were waiting and many were taken by surprise that this could be done. We weight in the clothes as they arrive and get donated to Swish and we had just over 400kg at this even. To encourage people to join in and bring clothes to swop we held a raffle with tickets being given for each bag that was donated and the prizes coming from local independent traders in the town ( we really did want them to benefit from this and getting people in their shops we thought would be the best way.)
Many stumbled upon the event by accident, gave great feedback and joined in. Others knew exactly what goes on and really get into the spirit of things. One lady brought 83kg of clothing and was such a fantastic help while others brought nothing as they didn’t realise but all were treated the same and everyone went away happy.
Some of the best feedback was surprisingly from the local traders with shouts of a fantastic trade for them, can we do these monthly and please do more. Some had lots of new customers who didn’t even know they were there and others simply loved the atmosphere that we created and made `a great days for shopping` in Bodmin.
We will be doing this again as we do hold Swishes monthly around various venues in Cornwall. Our Facebook page gives details of these and our other events we have going on.
I personally think that the best thing about the day was our Volunteers as they worked so hard in a very busy environment and always with a smile. Some were new to swish and really got the hang of it and I hope will go on to become great members of the team.
As for the High Street; we think it needs to change and it is by being daring and trying new approaches that can bring that change. We do not have to wait for permission to do these things and we are the ones that can make that change. If you have ideas that you are unsure of then get in contact and see if we can help.
This isn’t our first event on the High Street or in this Town, we have many more planned in the future that will include eco markets, youth markets and a few other surprises so watch this space.
Bodmin Big Lunch on the Lawn ! Sunday 9th June.
We are looking for a few hundred people to join us by having Lunch on the Lawn.
The Big Lunch will be on the 9th June on Narisa Lawn, Priory Park from 11 am, lunch will be served from 12.30.
We have 1 rule ... No money to change hands.. Everything there that day will be free. Free lunch, tea, coffee and entertainment.
2 years ago we held a Share Fare and we now feel its time to do it again because last time was so much fun.
We love the way food brings people together and the act of sharing is one that is deep rooted in everyone so come and join in, maybe bring a cake or desert to share but dont worry if you cant as we shall provide all the needs on the day.
This is part of our Connections through Cooking project we are running this year with Miss Elvy's Curious School of the Wild, Castle Cankye Scouts and very kindly funding from The National Lottery Community Fund.
We seem to be doing something right in the world of business and how we work with businesses to benefit the communities around us.
Our Circular Economy approach with Textiles and business waste has managed to get us noticed and shortlisted for an award and we are so honoured to be selected.
You can read lots about what we do on our TeX website via a TeX button here.
Our blog is designed to keep you up to date on Cultivate Cornwall news and all the different projects we are working on.