‘Can you imagine…’ This seems to be a regular utterance at the other-worldly Eden Project. This is a place built on hope and imagining a better future. We attended the Eden Community Camp in November to join in the inspirational weekend and host workshops.
‘Around the late 1990s, a small group of people gathered in pubs, hotels and offices to talk about an idea – to create a place like nothing anyone had ever seen before; a place that explored our place in nature, a place that demonstrated what could be done if people who wanted to make a difference got together. It was ridiculous to imagine it was possible and that hundreds of people trained to say no could be persuaded to say yes. But the greybeards had a brilliant plan: ask the youngsters to do it – they don’t know it can’t be done.’ – Sir Tim Smit, co-founder, The Eden Project.
Video: Morning views at The Eden Project
Today, greybeards, youngsters, people of all backgrounds gathered to join the Eden Project Communities Community Camp. Around 60 people sat in The Gallery Café, listening to Peter Lefort, Eden Project Communities’ Network Manager, tell the story of how the Eden Project came to be. This is a place I had heard about for years, and finally we were here, the biodomes were just beyond the glass doors.
There was a palpable sense of hope and possibility, of community in its purest sense that gained momentum throughout the Eden Community Camp weekend. We spent three days getting inspired and motivated, reflecting on achievements and celebrating our community.
Cat and I donned our Semble hats and waterproof boots to spend a weekend exploring the rainforest biodomes, hosting workshops about using social media to gain support for your community project and how to attract corporate support that was aligned with your project’s goals (click through to read the steps we shared). But as so happens at events like this, where ‘powerfully ordinary people doing extraordinary things together’ gather, we learnt so much more than we shared!
The Eden Community Camps are notorious for bringing community leaders together from all over the UK, who tackle a broad range of community issues. From Aberdeen to Penzance, eager faces dotted the grounds proudly representing a small pocket of the UK’s community.
Don’t transmit, tell stories
Eden Project opened its doors to the public before it had been finished. They believed that by letting people in and sharing the journey with them, they would feel part of the story.
“You don’t have to wait until you’ve finished to start telling your story,” explained Peter.
Now Eden Project attracts over two million visitors a year who learn about connecting with each other and to the living world.
In a world of information overload, people don’t need statistics. We connect with stories – stories of hope, of how we can make change and have a positive impact to the places that epitomise possibility. During the Eden Community Camp, some of the community leaders that were handpicked to join the experience stirred up the courage to share their story. We sat around laughing and shedding a tear, listening to people share stories of what motivated them to start a project in their community and the challenges and achievements they’ve faced along the way.
Video: Paige from The Happy Hood Project
People were at different stages of their journey. Hugh Hegarty was a few weeks in to setting up his men’s mental health charity, even though the need for this support had been felt for years in his community. While Jani, director of The Art House , Southampton, had set up the community café ten years ago and was looking for inspiration to reinvigorate herself and her project. We’ve captured some of these stories and we’ll be sharing one story each week on Semble so stay tuned here. There’s a sneak preview in the video above.
Keep in touch
We’ve got plenty of funding and volunteering opportunities coming up and we know, after meeting you, that your projects could be ideal candidates.
The best way for us to know what’s happening on your project is to create a project page on Semble and add short blog updates to let us know how you progress. The wider you share your story, the more support you’ll gather.
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