Tag Archives: university

Trust: Essential for being a changemaker

I’ve just ran a workshop at Sussex University about ‘overcoming’ our own limitations as change agents. Listening to the participants, there seemed to be two major themes: disbelief about their course providing the knowledge needed to effectively create change, and cynicism about one’s own ability to do anything about it, or in other words, a paralysis in finding their own unique way to contribute to the world.

No surprise, if your sphere of influence is not measuring up to what you know about the world, and if you hold the belief that you have to do something equally as big as the challenges you perceive. It seems that being satisfied with operating within your own sphere of influence in response to much greater spheres of challenges is only possible if you trust that other people will do the same, filling the gap between what you can do and what the world needs. If this mindset was really embodied in people, I recon that young adults would be less cynical and feel less anxiety ~ and hence be more effective as changemakers.

Inspiring adventure stories showing us how a tiny individual can make a huge difference (thinking Frodo) may actually not be that helpful anymore… As an Hopi Elder has said: “The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!”


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Catalyst Council – the needs of young adults today

The Catalyst Course was initially grown from a reaction. I was frustrated witnessing bright young people at University not basing their choices on their values, seeing people not responding to the challenges of our time although they really cared, and working with people who felt unable to change anything in their own lives let alone the world around them. Now, three years later it felt time to step back, and look at the vision, purpose and strategy of Catalyst with fresh eyes. Catalyst had been doubling its numbers every year, but the question remained how we best grow in a world in which the needs of young people and the world itself are constantly changing.

To grow initiatives in a time of radical and complex change, deep listening and drawing on a diversity of perspectives is essential. That’s why I initiated 35 diverse stakeholders of Catalyst and people who do similar work to come to Embercombe to revisit some of the questions underlying our work: What are the emergent needs of young people you want to be the authors of their own lives, and shape the world around them positively – to address the social and environmental challenges of our time? And how can we best address these needs? What strategy should Catalyst follow in the years to come?

Thanks to Calu from Otesha who captured our conversation during the council in such beautiful waysThe weekend was also a colourful celebration of the 3rd birthday of Catalyst, with some amazing musicians, wild dancing, and yummy organic food cooked by some of our amazing Alumni. Harvesting our insights from the weekend will still take a few weeks. Here is already a personal harvest about what emerged for me from the first question we asked at the weekend:

What are the emergent needs of young adults who do not want to be merely passengers of life and actively shape their world: (Most people exploring this questions were from and around universities – either18 – 25 years old or working with that age group)

Open safe spaces

  • to explore, reflect, stop, breath & make mistakes
  • to vision, dream and imagine the future
  • to be young and care-free

Connecting deeply with other young adults

  •  to be with others in a trusting and non-judgement way
  • to be in a meaningful way together, in which all have the opportunity to fully express themselves
  • to find a tribe to which one can belong

Guidance & support

  • from alternative role-models and mentor
  • from true teachers and elders.

Opportunities to be heard and express

Right livelihood

  • to experience different ways of life
  • to take a break from the pressure to earn money
  • to explore how one’s basic needs can be met sustainably

Skills beyond university

  • that also help to understand the bigger picture
  • real experience, not just learning ‘about’ things

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