Offline Festival: Unearthing the power Of community

This month saw witness to a unique experience in the heart of the countryside: Offline Festival.

Offline Festival brought together community businesses, social entrepreneurs, community projects, socially responsible corporate partners and friends and family in a three day event involving business-skill building, personal growth sessions, laughter therapy and insightful panel discussions.

Our very own Esther Foreman busied herself with workshopping the crowd on how to build out their movements.

I caught up with Nick Gardner, CEO of Project Dirt, about the event and the power of the outdoors:

Can you tell me what Project Dirt’s all about?

“We’re a social networking platform for supporting community projects. We help community projects to connect and share ideas, and to find resources.”

Why did you set up offline festival?

“We’ve been doing networking for community projects for 7 years now, but it’s mostly all been online. But there’s nothing that can replace the power of face-to-face. So we decided to set it up, to bring people together, to share ideas and to get inspiration from each other. This is the first time we’ve done something on this scale – and it was a huge success.”

What do you think made Offline festival so special?

The outdoors. It  takes people out of the normal day to day routine, it brings people together and sparks creative conversations. We didn’t want to put on a traditional conference, making people take time out of their lives to attend another dull conference. Here, everyone brought their family and friends along. There was so much to do, so many people to meet and people were given the air and space to meet.

We had outdoor tasks for people to do like wood whittling and building a mini garden, so they could refresh their energy levels before delving into another panel discussion or another engaging conversation. Some of the most important conversations happened over the campfire!

What was the highlight of the event for you?

The checkout session. On Saturday morning we had a check-in session where people talked about their aspirations for the event. On Sunday, we had the checkout session, and it was so great to hear all of the incredible feedback. In just three days people had made important connections with people they would never have connected with before. They learnt new ways of doing things and navigated through issues that had been plaguing them for a while. And, best of all, the had fun!

What’s the one thing you hope people went away with?

Renewed energy to take forward their ideas and some inspiration to do them differently.

Are you planning another one?

A big, fat, yes.

Project Dirt are building out a movement of community projects, and their Offline Festival is just one of the many layers of meaningful engagement Project Dirt gives to its movement members.

At The Social Change Agency, we know how important it is to support your movement members with meaningful action. You can start mapping out your own movement by downloading the Movement Building Canvas here. 

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