Campfire Conversations

A Project inviting members to host their own Campfire Conversation events this summer, or to attend others' events.

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by Pete Lawrence
Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom,
Created on 22 Feb 2017

With spring under way, our thoughts turn to outdoor activities and the campfire experience. We're heading out around the UK between late April and mid July in the build up to this year's Campfire Convention 00.UK event.

If you are up for hosting / organising a Campfire Conversation for this summer, have a read of the articles in this Project.

The gathering works best as a small, intimate afternoon or evening, preferably with an outdoor element (as we can then have a fire too), which can be a pub or arts centre, a back garden or a field. Ideal size I can range from 10-100 people and would involve discussion, debate, thinkshop, exhibition, ideas exchange and a knees-up element (live acoustic music or DJs) and a food / drink element, often communal cooking.

Collaborators:

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Wed, 02/22/2017
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Campfire Conversations : Bag a date now!

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With Campfire Beacons now set up, it's possible to start organising your own Campfire event at a local level. This might be a Campfire Conversation or a social or something combining the two. Here is an overview of our 2017 events and you will find a downloadable PDF of guidelines at the foot of this page.

The concept for Campfire Conversations was born when Paul Darnborough successfully dovetailed a discussion session into his regular club night in Manchester in late 2015 and then repeated the experience in Todmorden in May 2016. Since then we have also done Campfire Conversations as ‘bolt-on’ events at festivals in Lancashire, Hartlepool and Whitby as well as The Good Life Experience in Hawarden, Flintshire.

The gathering arguably works best as a small, intimate afternoon or evening, preferably with an outdoor element (so we can have a fire too), which can be in a pub or arts centre, a garden or a field, a park, a tea shop or an allotment ...or somewhere else we haven't yet thought of. Ideal size so far has ranged from 10 to 100 people and would probably involve discussion, debate, thinkshop, exhibition, ideas exchange and a knees-up element (live acoustic music or DJs) and a food / drink element, often communal cooking.

The format is open-agenda and can involve global issues or local concerns, across a side spectrum of interests from politics to the arts, ecology and well-being to how we can work together co-operatively.

There is a strong sense that people want to talk and discuss today's rapid global changes more than ever and Campfire can evolve into a platform that fulfils that need whilst looking at ways to structure long-term thinking and collective action in the face of the prevailing swing to the right, the rapidly changing nature of work, fake news and the rise of algorithms and artificial intelligence.

The Conversation events are moveable and adaptable feasts which should be up to Campfire members to organise and programme, each with a unique flavour of its own. What is evolving at the moment is a framework with some guidelines that have been built by members experiences so far.  Members have suggested putting together Campfire Beacons (organisational teams) to feed ideas and new directions into the Campfire collective.

The local Campfire organiser should be ready to :

  • Find a venue (the concept can work in a cafe, garden, pub function room, barn, park..ideally with outdoor and indoor contingency space and a small campfire if possible), 
  • Come up with the concept (if more than just Conversation)
  • Promote locally and invite like-minds, friends, (flyering if appropriate, word of mouth)
  • Underwrite any costs associated with venue, sound, lighting etc where appropriate
  • Agree concept if more than a 3 hour discussion, take revenue £
  • Cover minimal expenses (i.e. travel)

Campfire offers :

  • Campfire official event status and publicity (official Facebook event listing, Campfire site, Twitter etc)
  • Artwork templates
  • Collaboration on format and shape of the day / evening
  • Pete Lawrence as speaker (or other Campfire team member as available)

We are collectively working towards a framework for real and radical evolutionary change. If you'd like to contribute to discussion around a framework for making these changes, meaningful, then here is our starter for ten :

For discussion:

The movement is about people, representing themselves, moving forwards together.

It should be :

1 Progressive. A society run by all, for all, grounded in common sense and integrity.

2 Independent. Working outside the existing outmoded party political structure and tribal dogma.

3 Local. Respect for democracy at grass roots level, localised communities working within a global interconnected framework.

4 Empowering. Working for the good of all, creating and nurturing a participatory environment where people feel they have a voice and can make a difference through liquid democracy.

5 Humanistic. A greener, more empathic society moving away from materialism and profit as primary drivers, celebrating its spiritual elements and natural beauty, supporting renewables and working for peace through conflict resolution. 

6 Collaborative. Encouraging complementary skills and knowledge, bringing people together via mutual support mechanisms and initiatives which reward their own members through measured input. 

7 Diverse. Joining the dots but respecting the differences, bringing to the table a range of viewpoints and experience.

8 Connected. A self-sufficient networked community that maximises technology and networking, enabling co-ordination and exchange, supporting creative commons and open source approaches.

9 Resourceful. Building collective wisdom through learning and ideas development. Building life tools through accurate news formulation and dissemination. 

10 Fun. What’s living for if not to enjoy life and all it has to offer? People should value being engaged and feel good about themselves, focus on hope and reject fear.

We are collectively working towards a framework for real and radical evolutionary change. A framework is not easily formulated or agreed but we are actively seeking your involvement for discussion to realise pragmatic ways of making these changes immediate and meaningful.

These 10 points have useful syncronicity with Alternativet (the Danish political party)'s core values: 

1. Courage. Courage to look problems in the eye. But also courage about the future we share.
2. Generosity. Everything which can be shared will be shared with anyone interested.
3. Transparency. Everybody should be able to look over our shoulders. Both on good and on bad days.
4. Humility. To the task. To those on whose shoulders we stand. And to those who will follow us.
5. Humour. Without humour there can be no creativity. Without creativity there can be no good ideas. Without good ideas there can be no creative power. Without creative power there can be no results.
6. Empathy. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Looking at the world from that point of view. And creating win-win solutions for everyone.


We take it to the road, usually from spring onwards for three months of Campfire Conversations. Here is a review of spring / summer 2017 events

If you are interested in hosting one, email pete.lawrence@campfireconvention.com

Looking forward to more events, with sparks aplenty!

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4 Comments

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Eileen Inglis

I'd like to see one of these in Scotland ..... I'm going to explore what local events it could tag onto .....

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Ralph Pettingill

Thanks Pete. I'm not sure how able we are to host a conversation somewhere in the North/ Scotland (i.e. my own current hectic schedule ). As a first step, I'd like to be in touch with and at least arrange to meet with any others in the North East/ Cumbria/ Northumberland or even Scotland/ Borders. This is a great place to gather eg. potentially loads of fabulous places to gather. How can I get in touch with others in the areas I've listed? The only person I'm definitely aware of is Eileen Inglis, in Edinburgh...

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Pete Lawrence

I had a Skype with @Eileen Inglis @Amy Rew and @William Knox on Sunday about doing some Scottish Conversations. We're just waiting on dates really. We could be looking at 20+ Conversations this season. It's just gone nuts this week! See latest dates and routing at https://campfireconvention.uk/profile/pete-lawrence/campfire-conversatio...

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Rebecca Denniff

We are definitely happy to run a conversation at our home in the NYM National Park - the suggested date of Sunday June 4th is perfect for us - a Sunday afternoon Conversation? I'm about to set about using your template now......