Friday, 18 March 2016

Leading Wellbeing - a new one-day event in April, and a must for sustainability professionals

Janine John
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.


Monday, 14 March 2016

Click Here for Growth: Is Digital Cash a Solution to Recession? London Lecture April 13th

An evening lecture in London, 530pm April 13th, by the Founder of the Positive Money campaign

With the impending ‘death of cash’ and the rise of digital currencies (such as Bitcoin), there are strong arguments for central banks to start issuing “digital cash” – an electronic version of notes and coins. Done well, such digital cash might create additional purchasing power and stimulate the sluggish economy. But this raises a number of questions: how would central banks get new digital cash into the economy, and how would the public use it? Would there be any impact – positive or negative – on financial stability?

Ben Dyson is the co-author of Modernising Money: Why our monetary system is broken and how it can be fixed. He argues that a design flaw in the banking system, which allows banks to effectively create more than 97% of the money that our economy runs on, is responsible for the financial crisis, unaffordable housing and the government’s reliance on unsustainable debt-fuelled growth. The proposals were recently featured in the Financial Times. He is the founder and Head of Research at Positive Money, a campaign for a banking system that works for society.  More information at

5pm to 7pm, 13th April 2016 (talk starts 530pm)
London Campus of the University of Cumbria
58 E India Dock Rd, London E14 6JE
Nearest DLR station: Westferry Road

Places are limited so book ahead via

If lost on the day SMS: 07584191972

This lecture organised by IFLAS is given as part of the residential of the Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange and also provides an opportunity for participants in the Money and Society free online course to meet eachother.

For the IFLAS Open Lectures in Cumbria see here

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Join us April 9 for a "Leading Wellbeing" Event

Leading Wellbeing: from theory to practice is just one month away! We look forward to reconnecting during the weekend of April 9th and 10th and feeding what was kindled on the shores of Windermere last July.

Open Space Event
At our open space event, anyone can host a session, or just come along and enjoy what is on offer from 930 to 530! Sessions already on offer include:

Leadership for change: who, me? with Charles Ainger, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)
Sustainable money with Prof. Jem Bendell, IFLAS (University of Cumbria) and Matthew Slater (Global Ecovillage Network)
Yoga dance with Sarah Pike
Wellbeing in the workplace with Richard Little (Impact International)
Renewable energy in Cumbria with Mark Cropper (Ellergreen Hydro)
Music in your nature with Amy Boud
Poetry & seeing, who’s eyes are you looking through? with Georgia Wingfield-Hayes, Jamie McPhee & Nigel Dykes (University of Cumbria)

Places are limited and booking is essential.

The Party!
In the evening we will gather at Ambleside Parish Centre at 6.00, for a delicious dinner all from locally sourced, seasonal food from the fabulous Nick’s Kitchen. Then there will be live music from Don’t Tell Suzy and Uncle Carbunkle, who will get us all dancing with their funky blues vibe!

Open Space £20
Evening party £15
Or both for just £25!

Booking is essential, so please buy a ticket now.

Many participants will be staying on to go hiking or museum-visiting together on the Sunday 10th April, so please arrange your weekend to allow for you to join that if you so wish (weather very unpredictable). Arrangements will be self-organised and discussed on the Saturday. Please arrange your own accommodation. If you would like advice on accommodation please email Also tell Martin if you are arriving on the Friday night, as we may be able to connect you with others.

You can extend this invite to friends and colleagues who you would like to connect with the spirit of Leading Wellbeing. You can use our Facebook group to tell people you are coming and invite others

Unfortunately no children’s programme is offered for this smaller gathering. As the next full Leading Wellbeing Research Festival will be next year, joining us next month is a great way to stay engaged.

To recap:
Date 9th April, 2016
Open Space: 9.30 - 17.30 at the University of Cumbria, Charlotte Mason Building, Ambleside Campus, off Low Nook lane, Ambleside, Cumbria.
Evening party: 18.00 - Midnight at the Parish Centre, Vicarage Road, Ambleside (food at 19.00)
If lost on the day, call Georgia on 07971 631699

If you would like to study leadership development in the way we explored it at the Festival, have a look at our new MA in Sustainable Leadership Development and do ask if you have questions.

We look forward to seeing you in Ambleside.

Leander Bindewald,
Georgia Wingfield-Hayes,
Katie Karr and
Jem Bendell with the team at