I am facilitator, mentor and entrepreneur. I am an optimist, a realist and a catalyst. Along lifes crazy journey of projects and people, one thing has remained clear and strong. This is the core belief that whatever we create in the world, it can be created in a way that is good in all senses of the word. There are no excuses for following the business-as-usual mantra. Organizations of all kinds need to find harmony with the natural world if we are to continue enjoying the abundance and choice we have become accustomed to. We need to address not just our own sense of peace and balance but most importantly we need to create healthier and more resilient systems that support life in all its forms.
In 2008 and with the playful collaboration of dear friends, I co-founded Coexist Community Interest Company at Hamilton House in Bristol as a site of active experimentation for resilient communities. At the time both the building and the area were in a poor state. We asked people 'how would you like to coexist with each other, with your community and with the environment?' We created a permissive and creative meeting place for entrepreneurs, activists, artists and local people to work, play, collide and re-learn how to collaborate and share skills for a resilient future. The launching of Coexist was the beginning of a new chapter for me that brought together entrepreneurship, community building and applied systems thinking. Through this lens and with the loving collaboration of family we launched The Canteen that quickly became a go-to venue for anyone serious about live music and delicious ethical food. This soon exploded into a second venue called no1 harbourside down on the Bristol Docks. This venue, while also a space for people to meet, eat and dance became the launchpad and home of the Harbourside Market which allowed us to play with the atmosphere and street life in Bristol's historic centre. We sponsored buskers and populated the stalls with local makers, cake bakers, food stalls and artisans of all kinds. We built links with the ferries and cycle tour operators and invited local history and contemporary culture to combine. In essence we created an ecosystem of human-scale creative commerce that puts people and their local context first.
Maybe inspired by spending time on the docks I became interested in the environmental impact of shipping on our food system and the cultural heritage of shipping on people around the world. In 2013 I co-founded the New Dawn Traders and sailed around the Atlantic; trading rum, wine, and food of all kinds. It was an incredible adventure and an eye-opening experience on so many levels. Returning from the high seas I was set on developing a land-based project (strangely) that would see greater exchange between rural and urban centres. The vision being to promote access to land for urban dwelling people hungry for respite, and promoting a direct route to market for rural farmers and makers. In collaboration with the Rural Project we are still exploring options for land procurement so that we can get this project underway. While waiting for the right piece of land to appear we opened a new venue, again regenerating a space that was not being used and that needed some TLC. The Old Market Assembly was launched in late 2015 and brought together an amazing collaboration with The Wardrobe Theatre along with our own music venue, restaurant, bar and bakery. As with when we launched Coexist and the The Canteen we have helped create a tidal wave of urban regeneration that celebrates independent business and community engagement.
When I was a young boy I didn't care much for business and thought that when I grew up I wanted to help people with 'problems in their heads'. As I grew older I realised that it was not necessarily about helping people with problems in their heads but instead about helping people to connect. To connect with the crazy and often volatile voices that we each have inside of us. To connect with our passions and drives. To connect with each other in all of our imperfect and lumpy human frailty.
I decided to train as a movement and drama therapist and for several years worked as a health professional in London being human with over-exuberant kids, misfits and shamans labelled as madmen. I spent my days helping people to connect to their bodies, to their inner selves, to their creativity and to their families. Over time I was struck by the fact that so many of the problems I encountered were not really because of some broken circuitry within the people I worked with but because of the wider system in which people were being brought up into. As Krishnamurti is famously quoted in saying "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society".
It was from this place that I set out on a journey of discovery to find ways of applying what I had learned as a creative therapist to wider social field. Via land projects in Brazil to sustainability forums around Europe I started to see the bigger picture that I was to be of service to. In this way the last ten years of my work has been promoting social and environmental values through collaboration, enterprise and entrepreneurial drive.
Throughout this whole process I have found myself regularly seeking fresh insights and learning. I have been gifted with so many precious teachings, some invited and some not. I have regularly been drawn back to the inspiration of E.F. Schumacher and the various teachers who come through the Schumacher college. I have found deep peace and support through attending a number of retreats at Embercoombe in Devon where there has been space to address the deeper questions of our broken culture, and the collective orphaning which we are experiencing from both our elders and our ancestors. At Ecodharma in the Spanish Pyrenees I have had the honour of training and sharing in both new and old tools that create deeper connection and foster better and more transformative collaborations. At every single stage of my life I have been lucky to have great teachers around and I give thanks for their gifts.
I also give thanks and deep heartfelt acknowledgement to all of the friends and family that I have been lucky enough to travel with, learn from, and collaborate with. It takes a village to raise a child as they say and every project and business I have been involved in has only been successful because of the collaborative hive mind efforts of all involved.
Through my current work I try to help others to manifest their ideas and grow their projects in a way that promotes healthy and balanced living systems. I now work as a mentor and facilitator and take great pleasure in sharing all of the skills, tools and teachings that I have been gifted along the way.