Please mind your head at the RDI Summer School

This Day 4 post is written somewhat after the fact, and that’s a good thing. An immediate post might have captured all the logistical comings and goings without capturing anything about what was special.

I am not sure who first used these words, but in the concluding session, Michael Wolff quoted the following,

“People will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did, but they will always remember how they made you feel.”

The handful of attendees I have spoken to in recent days have shared a similar sentiment: that after five weeks back at our desks, the Summer School feels like a long time ago; the details are dim, but there is a feeling that they can start to make sense of what was felt – what was revealed about ourselves and each other – in the context of their day to day lives. It is as if the Summer School is one of those glorious trees at Dartington Hall, basking – photo-synthesising. The leaves are what we said and did; buffeted by the arrival of autumn they quickly fall, but the energy of the summer, the coding and nutrients – in other words how it made us feel – are preserved in the seeds.

Oak Tree Dartington Hall

Oak tree at Dartington Hall

Fergus Fielden gave me the the seed metaphor. He used a sweet chestnut seed from the grounds at Dartington represent his wish on the wish sculpture that we built on day two. In his words (see video snippet here),

“It symbolises growth…and investing in a sustainable future, but it’s a long game so it is about getting people to be more hands-on about sustainability and awareness. And you have to have faith. You have to invest early on.”

Planting seeds is the most illustrative description I can find for what the summer school did. Some will germinate next season; others will come to life in later years; some may not survive. Once it emerges, the sapling may take many years to thrive. And it is hard to know from the seed what form the eventual tree will take. Sometimes it is hard to remember what seeds you have planted. Fortunately I have two hours’ footage of video interviews to give me some clues about what sort of seeds were planted.

Seven Seeds of the Summer School

  • Seed One – The courage to believe in your own convictions and abilities
  • Seed Two – The removal of the mundane to gain sight of what you want to do.
  • Seed Three – The re-ignition and validation of personal passions.
  • Seed Four – The foundation of new friendships and alliances
  • Seed Five – The identification of new personal objectives
  • Seed Six – The nature of working with strangers and how to collaborate.
  • Seed Seven – The knowledge that our greatest adversary in life may be ourselves.

As we were leaving the summer school, I asked (somewhat metaphorically) designer Syd Hausman, if she’d found what she was looking for:

“Sounds like a U2 song… I wouldn’t say I’ve found what I am looking for, but the start of many things I will probably find”

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