The renovation of the Bergerac Hub began in earnest last month and we were delighted to welcome many new as well as familiar faces to the Building Festival.
Heavy building work was balanced with contemplation and interesting discussions. We began stripping the cement off the farmhouse’s walls to reveal the beautiful stone walls underneath, did yoga together every morning in the shade of the trees, and relaxed by the Dordogne river. We held a Quaker meeting and a Plum Village Sharing Circle in which we shared joys and difficulties encountered in our meditation practices.
We were also delighted to welcome Simran and Elisa to the team.
Simran jumped straight into the role of the festival producer and helped make the building festival a huge success, in addition to teaching us yoga every morning.
Elisa is currently leading a research project on the emerging field of ‘culture-making’ in order to learn more about the individuals and organisations focused on improving the world through shaping culture. If you work in this space and would like to contribute to our understanding, please take a look at Elisa’s blog post for more information and to get in touch.
We’re looking forward to publishing some other exciting work. We’ll soon be releasing Collective Wisdom, a book written by Liam Kavanagh, Director of our Research Institute, on the blindspots in Western culture that we urgently need to address if we are to avoid ecological and political crises. Sign up to be notified when the book is released.
We’re also making progress on Wiser, a newsletter that will provide curated information on how to live a wiser life.
You can now read about more of our work and projects on our website. If you’re an investor interested in getting involved, check out the information about our Real Estate Fund, a fund to support the creation of more Life Itself co-living communities.
Time for another update on some of the things we’re most excited about from our recent sprints. Last month the headquarters of Life Itself moved from La Cheraille to our beautiful new farmhouse in Bergerac. Rufus, Sylvie, Will and Bethany managed the mammoth task of packing and moving everything from La Cheraille in just two days.
Will, one of our newer team members, was visiting the hub to co-work with Rufus and Sylvie. You might have noticed the excellent updates Will has made to our offerings pages; if you haven’t attended one of our online calls yet, visit our calls page to become part of a wonderful community supporting each other to grow, get s*** done, have transformative insights and develop or deepen creative practices.
We’ve also been busy organising the building festival at Bergerac, which will run from Monday 3rd – Sunday 30th August. We’ll be transforming the farmhouse into a vibrant community space by revitalising the living areas, event spaces and gardens. If you haven’t already booked a ticket, there’s still time! The festival is free to attend and includes free meals and a camping ground with shower facilities.
Volunteers at the festival will spend four hours each day building and bringing the hub to life. The rest of the time might include swimming in the Dordogne river (just a short drive from the farmhouse), participating in workshops, taking part in communal cooking and exploring the surrounding countryside. You can come for any amount of time to build, relax, make meaningful connections and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
During the pandemic it’s been more important than ever for teams to have a supportive structure and sense of community. Petro and Sylvie have been continuing and expanding our organisation consulting this month, supporting the cultural development of organisations to increase teams’ connectedness, focus and clarity.
We’re also delighted to be curating and hosting the Untitled Imaginary Society forum, which will welcoming the multidisciplinary artist duo VestandPage on the 3rd September.
VestandPage will lead an evening called ‘Changing the Gaze: Moving beyond anthropocentric imaginaries’ during which they will share their artistic and poetic practices. There will also be breakout discussions in the group to explore the possibilities their work inspires for how we can listen, see and imagine differently to move beyond an anthropocentric view.
This month Liam has been working on setting up events around his work on ‘The Equality Complex.’ The highlight for him has been running an event inquiring into the role of equality in morality and culture, whether moralistic judgement of others has become a replacement for love in pursuing a better world, and whether this is truly the way to justice. If you missed it, you can still watch a recording of the event. Liam is running a followup event on skillful communication and ‘cancel culture,’ so keep an eye on our site to book a place in the near future!
At Life Itself we organise our time into fortnightly sprints. This means we make plans together of what we’ll achieve every fortnight, and we update each other as a group on what we’ve been up to after each sprint. We decided that we’d like to involve you — our wonderful readers, members and supporters — and share some highlights of what we got up to during the last sprint.
It’s been a particularly exciting two weeks, because as you may have noticed we’ve had a rebrand, and are now Life Itself! Sylvie has done an amazing job with the new logo — it takes serious creativity and dedication to design something a whole team agrees is awesome — and we think it really captures the commitment to freedom and growth which characterise the Life Itself vision.
One of the major projects happening at Life Itself at the moment is the renovation of our new hub in Bergerac, France.
The highlight of the fortnight for Sylvie has been collecting the keys for the hub and starting the renovation.
You can see the Bergerac hub from the air here 🙂
This week Liam has been busy setting up and recording dialogues between Plum Village Monastics and neuroscientists as part of an upcoming online retreat hosted by Plum Village.
The highlight was an online tea with the monastics and neuroscientists involved in the retreat. Liam said:
We discussed the creation of a balance between contemplative and neuroscientific approaches to understanding the mind so that neither felt it could eliminate the other. Both sides were eager to speak more
Petronella and Sylvie have continued to hold Getting S*** Done calls, and places have been in high demand.
The new Write your Autobiography class has also launched. Every Wednesday, participants come together to share stories from their past, explore how these stories affect their present day decisions and write their own stories for the future.
Petronella shared her enjoyment at seeing people she has known in the past getting involved in Life Itself calls and community hubs:
Looking at the spaces that had the fertile soil that transformed my life is unsurprisingly where people who are excited by Life Itself are coming from.
Petronella, Expert in Getting S*** Done and Making Dreams Reality
The changes to normal working patterns and locations caused by lockdown have meant we’ve been working with organisations more, sharing our cultural practices to offer support and accountability for staff who are remote, especially those working from home for the first time.
The Berlin hub also hosted its first workshop, ‘How Do Systems Die Well and with Grace?’ organised by our wonderful Berlin hub member Jacques with the support of the hub manager Patrick, who we’re thrilled to have as a new member of the team — we know he’s going to help make the Berlin hub a huge success along with its amazing residents.
Here’s a summary of the focus of the workshop:
We are living in a time of transition. The fact that the systems we build are no longer serving humanity and the larger web of life on this planet is clear and plain to see. That means on the one hand that we have to build alternative systems that are serving life better and that help to sustain and regenerate the resources that are needed to let life flourish on this planet. That also means that we have to let the institutions, organisations and habits that are no longer serving us die. In natural systems, dying involves the disintegration, the unraveling of a system into its components, so that these can nourish and be integrated in a new system to arise.
We’re looking forward to multiple other events being hosted in the hub’s shared space in the near future, from movie nights and lectures to contemplative workshops and activism meetings. If you want to find out about future events you can follow the Berlin hub instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/lifeitselfberlin/
We have an exciting announcement to make: we’re changing our name. Art / Earth / Tech is becoming Life Itself.
Why? We want our name to really capture our commitment and vision, the essence of what we are standing for as a community. We believe that when we choose wisdom, well-being and awakening, we are making a stand for life: we are choosing Life Itself.
Over the next few weeks you will see our brand and name change, but our commitment remains what it has always been.
We are here for the people dreaming of a bigger future, who sense that the inner work is essential. Those who want to discuss the big questions of life, who want to deepen their practice and flourish in areas they care about. The people who want to live more wisely, honestly and coherently and have seen that community is essential.
Ultimately, we are here for many generations to come after us. We are here for the ecosystem as a whole.
We are grateful to be taking this stand with you for Life Itself.