I have just got back from a fantastic two day “Cathedrals in the Heart” gathering of the Centre for Narrative Leadership (CNL) at Hawkwood College near Stroud.
Firstly the location, facilities and food were superb and I would highly recommend the college for similar gatherings or workshops in the future.
The Centre was set up a couple of years ago by Geoff Mead and this time attracted 32 new and old members to this gathering. A nice mix of consultants, poets, cartoonists, storytellers and film makers, the simple (?) aim of which being to share and learn from each other.
Run as a series of pre-arranged workshops and open space events we all met and interacted, talked and shared, supported and advised each other until the sense of belonging and community spirit was almost visible.
My choices of workshops proved hugely rich and very useful:
In the first session Karen Lewis of BBC Wales and Eirwen Malin explained and showed us some very moving examples of Digital Storytelling. I was struck by the fact that despite the apparent simplicity of the format how powerful some of the short stories were. What really made us excited was the community building aspects of bringing together groups of local people to engage, often resulting in a heavily attended film premier of their efforts together with the admirable social benefits of raising the technical aptitude of those involved.
In the second session with William Ayot we discussed the role of the bard in modern day society and organisation and the hugely interesting aspects of ritualising the opening and closing of a storycircle and the role of holding the space for the group.
My own session on Sustainable Storytelling – using a selection of Cognitive Edge Techniques to deliver understanding, alignment and engagement seemed to go down well.
During the open space session I predictably chose to join a group discussing ideas around engaging local pubs in story based initiatives and another on how to initially engage with an organisation.
The social highlight was a ceilidh. (which I always thought involved dancing but I was pleasantly proved wrong) on the middle evening in which we all told stories, sang songs watched a new film and listened to poetry and a great time was had by all.
Thanks to Geoff for organising and thanks to everyone there who made me so welcome, at an event that shall live in my heart for a long time to come.