Viewing posts from: June 2012
On Elephants, edventure Frome and Education.

elephant in our lecture rooms 

There is a huge elephant in our lecture rooms, and it seems like most people choose not to notice. The cost of further education is rising, and what is learned seems less and less relevant and useful for creating a sustainable and fulfilling livelihood. Education needs a rethink. Edventure Frome is one of many exciting prototypes that are doing education differently…

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Press Release: edventure : Frome

PRESS RELEASE –  04.07.2012

edventure: Frome is a new local opportunity for adults (+20) who

  • are looking to make a change – in their own lives and their community.
  • and want to make a living by doing something positive.

Our 10 month, full-time programme is launching this September. The aim is for people to learn and prepare for doing what they really want to do, while supporting Frome in becoming an even better place to live..

What and how people learn
There are two parts to the programme:

(1) People get support in directing their own learning and development. For example, the programme works with the wider Frome community to enable people to get a part-time apprenticeship or work-experience, start a business or project, do research, learn a skill, or get a formal qualification.

(2) People gain transferable skills, earn money, and contribute positively to Frome through a series of practical assignments. For example, the team solves a problem for a local business or the Town Council, or converts a underutilised building into a financially sustainable community hub.

In essence, the programme is free. People are asked to fundraise a minimum of £1000 that goes towards a communal food budget and investment fund they can administer during the programme.

About Us
edventure: Frome will be a Community Interest Company and is already working in partnership with various local organisations, including: Frome Fit for the Future – Communities Living Sustainably, Frome Community Education, Mendip YMCA, Frome Foyer, Frome Town Council, The Cheese and Grain, Frome TV, & Forward Space / Old Church School. The Directors –  Johannes Moeller and Temujen Gunawardena – have a envisaged and run courses like this before. They both live in Frome, and are themselves under 30.
Opportunities to Get Involved
Open Day, 14th July, 1pm – 9pm. For people who may want to participate on the programme. Adults any age are invited, and asked to be in touch beforehand to arrange an informal chat (Contact: Temujen Gunawardena: 07892679391 or [email protected]).

Co-design Day, July 25th, 7.30-9pm, Sun Street Chapel. For Anyone interested. The day is about exploring how edventure: Frome can best benefit the town, and how as community members, you can support other (young) adults to create a meaningful livelihood that also makes a positive contribution to the community. (Contact: Johannes Moeller: 077 067 616 22 or [email protected])

edventure: Frome is also looking for people and businesses in Frome to

  • Provide mentoring, teaching, apprenticeship placements and work-experience,
  • set the people on the programme team paid assignments and challenges,
  • Offer a room for a participant for work-exchange.

web:    email: [email protected]

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Some Wisdom on the Cycle Path from Bristol to Frome.
Car in bush
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‘This Thing’ – A Starting Point for Exploration

I call it magic when a group of people sets off to create something bigger than they thought is possible; something that holds a deep purpose for each individual, and, most importantly, far beyond.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’. Margaret Mead

The mix & its purpose

“THIS THING” combines education for aspiring change makers*, obsolete spaces and resources** and community entrepreneurship *** to create resilient and sustainable learning, culture and enterprise hubs – for building local economies, healthy communities and global social change.

* aspiring change makers are creatively inquiring minds who want to make a difference in their communities, organisations and society; who want an education that provides them the skills and opportunities to do this; and who want to unfold their creative potential!

** obsolete spaces and resources are un- or under-used due to economic and social shifts, i.e.1 million shipping containers becoming obsolete because of reductions in global trade; office blocks or industrial estates that are available due to businesses closing down; overgrown derelict buildings; an old ferry that is afloat yet not sea-going anymore.

***at the heart of community entrepreneurship sits the belief that a community ~ and small groups of people ~ can make an incredible difference, and that they have everything needed to create the reality they wish to see, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and capacity to actually make it happen.

What “THIS THING” tackles:

THE I: Education crisis & unemployment

Education at large no longer does its job – to prepare people to flourish in society. We are experimenting with innovative ‘creative commons’ and experimental education that provides greater meaning, relevant knowledge and skills, and the capacity to get into or create sustainable employment.

THE WE: Crisis of community & economy

In times of economic downturn and changes, most people do not have a community to support them through difficult times. We stimulate a sense of community and a local economy to enable people to build more sustainable, fulfilling and resilient livelihoods.

THE IT: Life on earth beyond the means

Declining ecosystems and climate change are the result of people, at large, using more resources than the planet can sustain long term. We are experimenting with creating spaces and livelihoods ‘as if we had only one planet’ to play with.

How “THIS THING” goes about it:

It provides ‘an experimental education’ for creatively inquiring minds, for aspiring change makers and social entrepreneurs. The training is centred on “learning by doing”. The ‘doing’ part involves running the learning, culture and enterprise hub, and supporting or creating community enterprises, using obsolete spaces and resources. This is “learning by making a difference”.

The evolution of “THIS THING” 

As a learning organisation, it grows organically mirrored on the principles of nature. Once a group of changemakers spend 10 months on their learning journey, their ‘examination challenge’ begins. Collaboratively, they spend two months in a different community to establish another hub that will then host another group of learners, who at the end of their learning journey will establish another hub e.g.

Over time, a global network of “THESE THINGS” emerges. Learning and community processes are refined in online learning spaces. An open source cornerstone curriculum is developed by and for creatively enquiring minds. A new paradigm of education and community businesses evolve.

A few more words on…

…the education programme.

I don’t imagine it to be a ‘taught’ programme in the traditional sense. At the heart is ‘learning by making a difference’ – this may include running (and creating) the hub; living sustainably and in community; supporting or co-creating community projects or local social enterprises. Reflections and opportunities to ‘try it again’ will bring forth learning.

“Learning by making a difference” will be embedded in a corner-stone curriculum that is facilitated rather than taught, and other learning processes such as mentoring, authentic enquiry (self-directed learning journey), leadership development, action learning sets, adventures or coaching. All processes and content will be open sourced, and used / developed by its users over time, manifesting into a free online learning platform.  

…the spaces.

Each space that hosts the ‘learning change makers’ and the learning, culture and enterprise hubs will unfold in different ways, depending on the dreams and needs of each community. The space may host workshops and making spaces, an urban agriculture project, incubator hubs, a café, residential facilities for the learners, a youth club…

Overtime, some principles will evolve that these places will be built around, such as creating real value for individuals, community and planet; creating beautiful & quality spaces…

…community entrepreneurship.

The intention of “THIS THING” is to empower and support members of the local community to create sustainable, fulfilling and fair livelihoods, and to contribute to building the local and global community they would love to live in.

Ways in which this may manifest could be in providing cheap spaces – i.e. for incubating, making, producing, playing, growing or meeting; or in ‘learning change makers’ working alongside start-ups or catalysing community projects, such as local currencies, an alternative pension fund, cultural events, tool share schemes…

Financial & Organisational Model – First Thoughts

Organisational models

Each of “These Things” is owned by the community it intends to serve. A multi-stakeholder co-operative model could work here. Members can invest through labour / resources or money. Different membership levels can ensure that the local community members have at least 51% of the voice.

An umbrella body, constituted as a company limited by guarantee and charity could be set up to support the creation and running of “these things”. This may include facilitating the evolution of the cornerstone curriculum, to manage the application process, to provide training for people running ‘the thing’, to receive donated property, e.g.

“This Thing” should always be able to choose its affiliation with the umbrella body. 

Income streams

Tuition fees…

Initially, the learners pay for / raise money / find sponsors for their experience, yet have the potential to earn (some) of this money back (to start up their life, project or business after the experience). Once “the thing” is established, the vision is that the learners are paid (i.e., the apprenticeship model).

Another idea is that participants have to raise at least £1000 to participate, and this money will go directly into ‘an investment fund’ that will be spent that year in the community. With 20 people participating, this could provide £1000 start-up capital!

Social enterprise…

In essence, the learners provide real value to the community (because you can only really learn experientially if you also create something real), which yield financial returns. At the heart is the principle of transforming undervalued resources and space into something that has greater value ~ stimulated by creativity, and the energy released by the community creating something meaningful.


The spaces are provided / donated by local councils, property management companies e.g. in exchange for the value the organisation will add to the community and property.


Investment from the community.

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You are Invited to Co-create a New Social Enterprise

1st April 2012  –  10am-5pm

Our mission is to support the emergence of resilient, sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods, communities and organisations. ‘This thing’ ~ we still haven’t decided on a name ~ does this by creating an experiential year-long training programme for the next generation of collaborative entrepreneurs and change-makers. We combine innovative and holistic education with a hands-on learning challenge: The learners work in partnership with local individuals and organisations to transform disused buildings into enterprise and learning hubs that have the mission to enable people in the local community to build fulfilling livelihoods that contribute positively to the world.

The prototype is set to start in September 2012. You are invited to shape its development.

Purpose of the day

Since our last co-creation day in February, the picture of what this thing is has become clearer ~ for the time being! Right now, its time to not only develop the business model, but to focus on creating the innovations needed for the project itself. 

The focus for this day is the learning journey of participants (click here if your interested to view where we got to so far), specifically the self-directed / personalized learning aspect. 

Our purpose will be to explore self-directed learning, and through this, to create ‘prototypes’ for our programme that we could potentially pilot together. 

The intention for our programme and potential ‘prototypes’ is that we create open yet supported learning processes and environments that enable people to learn what they need to learn in alignment with what they are called to do. This may be gaining a practical skill for earning a livelihood, changing or deepening your connection to your purpose, or obtaining the ‘know how’ for setting up a business.

Our guiding question is: how can we facilitate processes and nurture an environment that will enable diverse and purposeful learning?


We have designed this day to make it a rich experience for all involved as well as productive for the project. We will facilitate the day, drawing on creative participatory methodologies to stimulate rich and bold conversations, collective intelligence and ideas generation – an authentic meeting of diverse people who are passionate about creating new solutions to the challenges we face.


When? Sunday, 1st April, 10am – 5pm. We will be waiting for you with coffee and tea from 9.30am. And we invite you to join us in a nice river side pub afterwards. 

Where? Hermitage Community Moorings Limited, 16 Wapping High Street, London E1W 1NG

Maps Google: Google Map Microsoft: Bing Map

Hermitage Community Moorings is situated at Hermitage Wharf, which is located at the entrance to the former London Docks, just downstream from Tower Bridge. Walk down Wapping High Street – the entrance to number 16 is just set back from the road, next to the memorial gardens.

Additional Info: There are no costs involved for you, and we will provide a simple but yummy home-made lunch and non-alcoholic drinks. 

To RSVP please register here:

We hope you can join us and are looking forward to hear from you!

Temujen Gunawardena, Johannes Moeller & Simone Tiesinga-Poutnik

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‘Feeling Harvested’ Co-creation Weekend February 2012

We set out to look at ‘this thing’ that we have been developing over the past few months with fresh eyes. We wanted to test, enrich and modify the concept, drawing on the diverse perspectives, expertise and enthusiasm of people we admire and resonate with before we head full-steam into the next stages of planning and development.

And what a rich day it was! 

Buzzing conversation, warm-hearted challenges, burned soup, sparking ideas, synergies between people that went far beyond the project, and overflowing generosity ~ it seemed that 23 unique people bought their gifts, their particular way of knowing the world, pouring this into ‘this thing’… 

Since our co-creation day on Saturday we have been busy harvesting, digesting and changing.  

Below is another go with describing what we do. What do you think?

But first of all, we want to send thank-yous and our appreciation to all of you who have joined us on a Saturday morning, and to those who couldn’t make it but send us their warm wishes.

The day has served ‘this thing’ to deepen and accelerate, and we hope that our harvest is a reflection of it. We are excited to share it with you!

Our reflection comes in two parts: ‘The Harvest’ collects everybody’s insights, questions, and proposed actions from the Open Space sessions we ran. ‘Harvesting the Harvest’ is about themes and insights the team generated on Sunday, based on the storytelling feedback, the open space, and all conversations that happened in between.

Here you can view online or download our harvest. You can also comment on the document if you want to add or critique.

What is the core / the essence

Key Insights

  • Essence is different from different perspectives: passionate about being well in transition (Simone), learning for change (joh).
  • These spaces become lifeboats (or epicenters), that drive the emergence of the new economy; they work towards resilience and sustainability.
  • The physical space acts as an anchor, and a canvas/ platform.
  • its an  practical alternative to mainstream higher education system (or a complement?), in order for people to thrive in the future (more like a MA/MSc rather than BSc/BA).
  • The intergenerational piece is important: allows people to give back & connect
  • Its addressing the underemployment of people (use yourself better) and resources (use stuff better)
  • The core is the underemployment of resources (of people, spaces, networks).
  • “Utilisation is important to you guys”
  • It does not matter what the activity it VS yes it does! Something that is related to creating a livelihood, its not enough to impart experience

Any next steps

  • Look up Design for change school, and the Hunger Project. 
  • Keep checking-in on “This project exists to…”

Any Unanswered questions

  • Is this thing an educational philosophy? Which can be applied in many different ways?
  • How can we provide the philosophy AND the means to have it applied?

THE QUESTION: As we are all describing the essence of ‘this thing’ all differently, are we looking at the same thing from different perspectives, or are we looking at different things?

Relationship of ‘This Thing’ to existing institutions

How could this project benefit from engagement with existing cultural/educational institutions? From this question came a conversation about why participants would choose to come on a course without an existing reputation, and what is it that people are searching for in educational programmes, and how This Thing could tap into the resources (libraries/access to online journals/space) of other institutions and whether it should align itself to more established entities to start off, or if it offers enough in itself?


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From the Initial ‘Push and Pull’ to the First Principle of Edventure.

I stared into the white, thick smog of Beijing. The Bird’s Nest Stadium was only a hundred metres away from the highrise I stood on, and yet, I could hardly see it.  I had spent our previous team meeting sitting by a Ginkgo tree, the only bit of nature that was not fenced off.  I had flown over to China to work with some of the most successful young entrepreneurs from Europe and China who wanted to build a better world through business.  Our task was to facilitate the group to write a policy document to be handed to the President Barroso and President Wen Jiabao.

From being surrounded by some of the most talented young entrepreneurs, I got a sense of possibility. I looked out at the stadium and thought that even the Olympic Games must have started with a simple idea.  At the same time, I felt irritated talking about business for a better world that was hardly scratching the surface of sustainability and ethics, and questioned my impact having flown to China to facilitate a few conversations. I was put off by a culture of entrepreneurship that was driven by prestige and success rather than deep questioning and learning about what sustainable business might really mean.

The sense of possibility gave me a pull, and my irritation a push into making a decision. I decided to make an idea happen that had grown over the past few years, and to give up most of my previous work. It felt like jumping off the skyrise I stood on, not knowing where to start, and most of all, being afraid of doing it alone. Not knowing anyone who had a similar idea and would love to embark on a journey to make it happen, had stopped me for a long time. This time, the push and pull had been strong enough to simply start, and trust that I would find peers for the journey along the way.

Temujen Gunawardena and I met in a small independent coffee shop in Brighton in December 2011 to talk about this idea that we had later called adventure it seemed immensely good timing I had decided to stop most of my work, and Temujen had just finished studying. We were both passionate about creating spaces where people could come together to make incredible things happen. We both wanted to create livelihoods that were truly sustainable and create solutions to global issues rooted in local community and an awareness of sustainability. We wanted to question and learn, and invite others to join us. Our starting point became the first principle of adventure: combining opportunities for deep learning, generating income, and creating positive social impact.

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