Campfire Conversations


With summer in our sights, some of our thoughts turn to outdoor activities and the campfire experience. 

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 last May. Since then we have also done Campfire Conversations as ‘bolt-on’ events at festivals in Lancashire, Hartlepool and Whitby and are looking to fill the diary for summer 2017 as soon as possible.

The gathering 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 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.

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.

Brian Eno is supporting the launching of Campfire Pioneers, a new initiative for creative ideas through Campfire Projects which we will be discussing and developing at our events, along with the Trailblazer politics initiative, supporting the rise of independents.

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 with me if more than a 3 hour discussion, take revenue £ (suggested £3 if discussion, more if not) 
  • 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 :

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.

Read more about Trailblazer politics  

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