I have always enjoyed these gatherings at the Lake District. Organised by the University of Bedfordshire, they are not open only to students of the university, as I am, but also to systemic practitioners interested in sharing their stories.
The Bedfordshire International Systemic Practice and Research School is informally named after the season, in which it is held, therefore this year was known as the ‘Summer School’. The theme for this year’s school was “Words and Acts and Nature” and I think this time the connections made between all that were more prominent than ever: the way we talk about things, the way we act and react to the world and the way we are connected with nature, all these interrelationships form a complex system.
This became all the more evident, as this year we also had the enormous privilege of having four guest presenters, whose work was complementary to each other. From the first day, Amanda Middleton talked about Living Intersectionality. Then Nora Bateson held a Warm Data Lab, where she suggested that, as humans, we need to go beyond our roles. Systems don’t get unstuck; instead systems learn and integrate new information.
The next day the conversation continued with various presenters adding to the notion that everything is connected. The brilliant diffractive performance, based on Michael Frayn’s play “Copenhagen” the same afternoon contributed to the discussion of how we think about relationships, theory, consequences for people and planet, power. After the performance, Wanda Pillow talked about what matter matters in research and practice and how entanglements present in nature, as well as in relationships.
My own workshop on the third day came after a visit to Castlerigg Stone Circle, a place where presumably people gathered in sacred connection to each other. It felt right into place therefore, that my workshop was about the interconnectedness between humans and our environment and what role this relationship plays in our practices. Through our words and our writings we understand that humans are not only in relation with nature; humans are nature.
During the final afternoon, it was already clear that we merely started the conversation. We didn’t have definite answers, but the important thing was that we raised questions and this was our responsibility to the world. Paraphrasing the words of Imelda McCarthy, who held the closing sessions, “Like electrons, once we become entangled, we cannot not be connected”.
Until next time we meet then, our connection will keep us together!