I'm not sure that I can remember the last time I conversed solidly for 2 days about things that matter. Not work things, life things.
It was a gathering of intelligent minds, varied lives and experiences with common threads: social justice, a desire for change, care for our environment and humanity, equity.
It grew from an increasing awareness that good people were butting heads with systems, values, leaderless bureaucracies, complacency etc. I've watched inspired innovators lose their 'fire' and burn out. I've watched the results of what I call the 'shit floats' syndrome: uninspired, conservative thinkers, rising to management ranks recruited by higher level bureaucrats who don't want their own thinking questioned.
It struck me that we fight this within our own sectors and industries and areas of life but there is little opportunity to move beyond this and to look at the underlying issues, and the common threads that link us regardless of circumstance.
So we gathered, 8 of us, around a table with sustenance, heaters, blankets, and despite not knowing everyone well, a strong unspoken sense of trust and respect. The conversation pretty much flowed freely around areas of concern: the media, education, politics, environment/sustainability, change. The organisers among us brought us back to ground from time to time for refocus and direction, and I attempted to capture the essence of discussions with sketchbook and pens.
Many of us were self-described introverts so the size of the group and the ability to drop in and out was important.
A few of us began the weekend with 2 sessions at the Sydney Writers Festival - one on 'D.I.Y.' and one on Resistance -and the ideas raised were remarkably relevant for the weekend as a whole. Day 1 ended with a long walk and a chance to connect 1:1
We didn't save the world but we did leave with a sense of connection and support that will continue. Michael summed it up well in a post-gathering message:
"The moment I left our little gathering on Sunday I had the feeling that we had just done something amazing. A group of people had spent the best part of 2 days just talking about what concerns us - without time constraints or a goal in mind. An aberration in this speedy world."