The aim of this prize generated by Lush (the ethical high street cosmetics company), is to raise awareness of regeneration and its potential, and to explore how to best communicate the idea of regeneration. Regeneration Project: Granada received the 2017 intentional project award, alongside ten other projects receiving young, established and influential project awards.
The Spring Prize Event took place in Emerson College in Sussex, UK; a heartful place that provided a welcoming backdrop for this very inspiring and surprisingly unconventional event. Over two days the eleven winners from all over the world and the shortlisted projects from the UK had a chance to meet, exchange and learn from each other in a personal and informal atmosphere.
This was supported by innovative formats such as a basar, skillsharing times, workshops and open discussions, creating spaces for the different projects to meet and exchange experiences, knowledge and questions. Some topics approached in those sessions were for example how to communicate regenerative ideas, designing regenerative working environments, creating a platform that gives voice to marginalized communities…
On the first day, Ruth Cross one of the co founders of Eroles Project and team member of Regeneration Project: Granada led an embodied experience exercise where all participants could meet each other as ‘human to human’ and share in a non-verbal space. I noticed that after a little while some people sat down, assuming that something about this exercise was too much or somehow alienating for them, that they were escaping the intensity of the eye contact, or non-verbal encounters with others. Later on I talked to one of them; what he told me turned this moment into one of those moments that expands the box, confronting my personal beliefs and assumptions. He said that he could see that in our culture those kind of exercises were very much needed in order to get into our bodies and to become present. Yet, to him this seemed a bit strange as people in his culture had a naturally much more embodied way of meeting each other, and that where he comes from this exercise would not have been necessary.
He represented a project called the Timbaktu Collective, a project that works for sustainable development in drought areas in Andrah Pranesh in India, working with small farmers and especially focusing on the most marginalized, such as women, children, youth and dalits. They work collectively, cultivating common land. The thought of working hard the whole day for something that gives no private returns, without suspecting that your neighbour might be working less hard then you or getting more in return is probably quite a strange one for most people coming from western societies. I was deeply inspired by this trust in the collective, valuing your family and community before your individual needs. I imagine that this might be one of the major challenges that we will face with the Regeneration Project: Granada; the question of how to distribute ownership and yield. Especially as we aim to work with people from many different cultures, differing substantially in the relation between individual, family and society.
The ceremony itself was simple and heartful, the judges handing in the prize in the form of a green soap. Many project representants expressed that receiving this prize gave the people in their projects confidence that they were going in the right direction, that their work was worthwhile. The same is true for us; receiving this prize and being part of this network of wonderful and inspiring people gave me an enormous boost of trust, hope and energy to continue the work.
A massive thank you to Lush and Ethical Consumer for this beautiful event and the possibilities they provide with this prize, for creating a world where we give back more than we take!