Gitte Larsen, Director of House of Futures, stated this in her intro speech: Years ago the futurist Alvin Toffler was posed the question: How can we stay Chinese in the future? “Nobody stay anything”, he answered. The question to ask is: How can we become Chinese of the future?
My name is Pouline Middleton and I’m happy to report from this third seminar of In100Y. The first presenter is Vaughan Lindsay who is CEO of Dartington Hall Trust, which focuses on three areas: Art, Sustainability and Social Justice. Vaughan Lindsay thinks he is privilledged to be part of an organization whose purpose is to experiment.
Resume: Concrete examples of how centre of experiment are a key in proving that problems can be solved in new ingenious ways by individuals who feel empowerment and can cooperate with other people. Dartington has a unique focus on generating money to be able to continue experimenting. And they focus on empowering people and providing the frameworks to make concrete initiatives possible. To create change on a large scale the following is needed: 1. Social acceptance, 2. Economic returns, and 3. Political will.
Many people see problems, in Dartington they want to be the change they want to see in the world, as Gandhi said. And they want to do it faster.
The very wealthy American Dorothy Elmhirst set up Dartington in Devon with the objective to use a derelict estate as a space for experiment how to make remarkable change in the world to increase living conditions for the poor and weak.
“You need to make your own money to make experiments”, Vaughan Lindsay says. So at Dartington they have focused on earning money to be able to continue to experiment. They also want taking risks to become infectious.
And Dartington has been successful. Over 85 years it has been a place for experiment: NHS, The Open University, The British Arts Council, etc. They have also set up a sawmill, Dartington Glass, Textile Mill, first commercially produced apple juice, cattle breeding, etc. They have established such initiatives in run down areas and been a successful benefit of the people living there.
The focus today is in the arts, social justice and sustainability and where these three areas interchange. They encourage debate, educate and take action. A key driver is learning by doing.
Present project example: Abundant Life – an experiment in better living for older people. How do we make sure elderly people keep engaged in their society, because that increases quality of life.
Present project example: School for Social Entreprenuers – Big Society in practice. Everybody has the potential to do remarkable things. Give them the needed tools and support. They already have a 70% success rate.
Present project example: The Estate as a living classroom. How to become self sufficient using the Dartington? The estate is a laboratory for this.
“Our job at Dartington is to show that all is possible. Make experiments that prove it can be done”, says Vanghan Lindsay and continues, “We are also proud to have inspired the Transition Towns movement. They have the goal of making a transition away from high energy consumption life to a sustainable life locally. Rob Hopkins started the Transition Movement in Totnes UK. His opinion was that if we wait for government we would still be waiting. There are now 382 Transition Towns worldwide in 34 countries
Having heard Vaughan Lindsay’s presentation it is my opinion that these are powerful examples of how practical change can take place. It shows how empowered individual can cooperate to solve a long range of problems. And it shows that change does not happen within the established societal structures. Money is required, so let’s not be naive about that.
Download pdf of the presentation slides.