SSE Residential: Day One

So SSE is in Devon for its 3-day residential. There are 70-odd of us here at Dartington, from London, Liverpool, Cornwall, Ireland and Australia….arriving by almost every conceivable means of transport, and all in similary good spirits.

We started off with a brief intro from Dartington CEO Vaughan Lindsay, who put the place and the organisation in historical context, and made a direct link between the work of social entrepreneurs and the work conducted here in these amazing surroundings in Devon. Namely that both are about the application of new ideas, about experimentation, and about a restlessness with the status quo. It was interesting to reflect also on the Elmhirsts’ (the philanthropists behind the renovation of Dartington in the 20s-50s) belief that too much money was actually something of a curse on ideas, as they were therefore not encouraged to stand on their own two feet. Ultimately, people knew that there was always money there if things went awry.

Alastair Wilson, SSE’s CEO, then introduced a short excerpt of a DVD featuring an interview with SSE founder Michael Young (who became Lord Young of Dartington, went to school there, and was, as Alastair put it, "informally adopted" by the Elmhirsts). It was interesting and encouraging to hear such an eminent social entrepreneur confessing to his lack of confidence at times, and to starting things with little more than an idea and a hope (and little money).

After dinner, SSE Fellow Claire Hodgson, of Diverse City, used forum theatre techniques to get everyone interacting and working together, which went excellently. I’ll try and post some video of this tomorrow if I can find a better wireless connection… the meantime, you’ll have to make do with photos…’s a slideshow. Tomorrow is all about the Eden Project…..

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