It doesn't seem like five minutes ago that I was attending the Leading Wellbeing Festival in the fabulous setting of the grounds at Brathay Trust, just outside Ambleside. In fact, it was July last year!
The event was organised by teams at Brathay Trust and IFLAS (The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability) at the University of Cumbria, and saw leadership, wellbeing and communications professionals from across the world descend on the Lake District for three days of thought-provoking discussion, debate and reflective activity. I met and chatted with a huge number of fascinating people, and the best bit was that it was happening on my own door step!
Panel discussion at the Leading Wellbeing Research Festival 2015 Photo credit: No Routes Found
Because of the work IFLAS has been doing since it was founded in 2012, Ambleside is fast becoming known as an innovative hub for learning, discussion and enquiry around sustainable leadership, and it regularly brings together students and sustainability professionals from all over the world. If you live and work in the area, you should consider going along to some of its open lectures, which are all free and listed online. It's great to hear from IFLAS that another wellbeing festival is planned for 2017, but you don't even have to wait that long!
On 9 April 2016, IFLAS has organised an interim event 'Leading Wellbeing: From Theory to Practice', which will take place at the university campus in Ambleside. This one-day event (with additional informal activities taking place in the Lakes on the Sunday, if you'd like to take part) is designed as both a follow-up for attendees of last year's festival, and as a place for like-minded individuals to gather and explore the complex challenges of social, environmental and economic sustainability through 'sustainable leadership' (and if you're not entirely sure what 'sustainable leadership' entails, I've been given a definition):
'ways of relating that promote change that is mutually beneficial, for individuals, communities, organisations, and the world at large'.
If you didn't attend last year's festival, don't worry, as I am told this event is to take on a completely new format and will appeal to a broad range of people. You'll be interested in attending if you are involved in coaching, leadership training, or are a sustainable leader or wellbeing practitioner yourself. You may simply have a professional or personal interest in any of these issues, as I have - I'm particularly interested in the communication of sustainability and environmental issues.
The day is designed to provide space and the energy for conversations on community, local and global thinking, and will be hosted using the 'Open Space' format, in which participants are encouraged to bring their own unique perceptions and solutions - the idea is that through a creative process of participation and dialogue, new connections and knowledge will emerge.
I am told that Open Space is a technique successfully used on all scales - apparently it is as effective within international networks of NGOs as it is for small groups exploring local practices such as biodiversity protection and complementary currencies. There was a session devoted to Open Space at last year's festival, and I can clearly see the benefits of allowing participants to set the agenda rather than just an 'elite' of speakers (as a fellow participant succinctly put it!). You will have the option of offering your own workshop or activity or, if you don't feel comfortable doing so, you could instead pose a question for discussion, or join in debating the ideas offered by others.
Some of the workshops on offer so far include an interactive game on Sustainable Money (Professor Jem Bendell, IFLAS), a talk about 'Wellbeing in the Workplace' (Richard Little, Impact International) and a walk in the surrounding landscape, using poetry as a tool for thinking (Jamie McPhee, Nigel Dykes and Georgina Wingfield-Hayes, University of Cumbria). Although optional, the day will be rounded off with a locally-sourced dinner from Ambleside's Nick's Kitchen, and live music and dancing.
The cost for the whole day is just £25 (£20 for the day activities only), so very good value for money. For more details about the event, and for booking, visit IFLAS online - you can also read more about how OpenSpace works, and the sessions already suggested. I hope to see you there!
Janine is a freelance communications consultant at Blooming Good Communications, based in Windermere, and is particularly interested in the communication of environmental and sustainability issues. You can find her on Twitter using @janinemjohn.