The Annual Initiatives of Change Australia National Gathering for 2020 transformed into an interactive online festival - The Solstice of Hope – A Festival of Ideas and Forums held from 15 June to 8 July. Coinciding with the Winter Solstice the festival draws its name from the underlying hope that from the solstice onwards, the days will grow longer and the sun will shine brighter and warmer with each passing day. Similarly the hope was that this festival will be a space to meet and greet, share and inspire.
"The intention of the festival is for us to meet old and new friends, celebrate each other’s endeavours, take journeys into art and music, fill our hearts with hope, and hold a space for conversations that explore how we can contribute our skills, gifts and presence to create the world that we wish to live in” said Sudarshan Suresh, the Coordinator of the festival.
Time to Celebrate
The Festival kicked off on 15 June off with the session Time to Celebrate, a time to share stories, learn about the initiatives that the IofC network is engaged in and to inspire each other in future work. Hosted by Barbara Lawler and Mike Worsman, the panel of speakers for the night included Allen Edwards, Graeme Cordiner, Jim and Tui Beggs, Amiel Nubaha, Elisse Higginbotham, Aya Ono, Shwe Mu and Mary Whiteside who shared stories of their motivations for change, their IofC journey and their current work. Background details of the speakers are available here.
You can listen to the recording of the session below.
The Way Forward
On 17 June the session facilitated by IofCA Board Member Quynh-Tram Trinh and Sudarshan Suresh presented the IofCA Strategic plan for 2020-24 and created the opportunity to understand and participate in the direction that IofCA is moving towards and the causes that will be collectively addressed.
The Strategic plan and a launch video with a presentation by the Chair of the Board, Paul Ntoumos is available here.
The Plan of Action
On 19 June Elise Collins, Program Manager and Nigel Heywood, Community Development and Research Manager offered insight into the priorities for the work next year and presented participants the opportunity to have a say in the steps we take to make Australia a more inclusive and integrated society.
Twist & Shake
As is the tradition of IofC, no gathering is complete without a venture into the arts, and the 21 June session was an opportunity to be entertained with music, regaled by tales and moved by poetry and to laugh and celebrate. A sizzling line up of musicians, poets and storytellers took participants on a journey through the villages of Indonesia to the island of Samoa to the suburbs of Melbourne to the grasslands of the Masaai Maara to the cheese farms of France to the battlefields of Vietnam to the Maori lands in New Zealand to the freedom movement in America to the plateau of Panchgani and finally to the halls of Armagh.
The Quest for Sustainability
Three rolling sessions on this topic, focussing on understanding the need for facing issues of sustainability now (22 June), exploring options and creating possibilities within them (27 June) and discerning next steps towards clear and responsible decision-making (6 July) was organised to create the opportunity to have an in-depth look at questions faced by all who care about the future of IofC Australia.
Facilitated by Mike Brown, Athalia Zwartz and Maurice Clisby these conversations are vital for sustaining our capacity to make a positive difference in the world. The key question asked will be: How can we sustain IofC into the future?
Our Roots and Branches
This session on 24 June was an opportunity to learn more about the essence of IofCA, the practices and philosophy of the movement and how we sustain it for the future amidst the changes faced in the world. Facilitated by Nigel Heywood, who has been researching the ideas and experiments of Frank Buchman (the founder of IofC) and the experiences of following generations, IofCA is now looking to explore what it means to live them in today’s radically different world.
Listen to the recording of the session to learn more.
The first session of a virtual healing journey through art, titled From Concern to Hope, facilitated by Judy Greenberg and Anne Holland was held on Saturday 27 June. The follow up second session - From Hope to Action was held on Wednesday 2 July.
The Wise Counsel
This session on Wednesday 1 July, hosted by Daya Bhagwandas and Sudarshan Suresh, explored the proposed setting up of a Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) to build a bridge between the network and the board.
The MAC is a new initiative launched by the IofCA Board with the hope of working with more inclusivity, effective communications and stronger collaboration across the vast distances of Australia. This initiative will enable representatives from each State to directly work with the Board and Operations.
Where to Now?
The last session of the festival on Wednesday 8 July will provide space for conversations that explore how we can come together, to move forward, with hope.The session will be facilitated by Siew-Fang Law and Mike Worsman and will be an opportunity for you to explore ways in which you can be part of the future work of IofCA
If you would like to join the conversation please register your details here.
The festival organising committee consisted of Quynh-Tram Trinh, Daya Bhagwandas, Siew-Fang Law, Athalia Zwartz, Maurice Clisby, Barbara Lawler, Mike Worsman and Sudarshan Suresh.