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Shaping Sustainable Futures: A Reflection

Workplace of Tomorrow

The aim of the day was to discuss ‘shaping sustainable futures’ with a number of social impact organisations across Yorkshire; to share each others learning and shape new thinking; to learn stories of sustainable practice and be inspired to use the learning in our own setting.

We invited a series of round-table speakers to facilitate conversations around sustainable practice across six key areas: communications, banking, entrepreneurship, communities, culture and ecology. The speakers discussed applied sustainable practice in their area and opened the dialogue around the table. Moderators from Oasis helped to stimulate conversations, make notes and encourage a ‘world café’ approach by scrawling thoughts on the table cloths; an exercise that led to the production of six colourful art pieces emblazoned with words and pictures to capture the essence of the conversations.

Starting conversations on sustainable futures

Among the conversation starters were Angela Lockwood, Chief Executive of North Star Housing Group; Rosie Warin, CEO of communications agency, Global Tolerance; David Midgely, Programme Director at Schumacher North; Rebecca Pritchard, Head of Banking at Triodos Bank; Tim Parkinson, Director at Caring for Life and Paul Chatterton, co founder of Lilac cohousing project. Each of them brought a distinct flavour and expertise to the dialogue sessions.

They shared stories of their experiences to attendees that included members of  social enterprises; digital communication agencies; charities and the corporate sector, to name but a few.

A more detailed flavour of sustainable practice was shared by our plenary presentation speakers; Susan Ralphs, Managing Director of The Ethical Property Company and Geoff Walker, Chief Executive of Sandwell Community Care Trust. Susan’s introductory presentation set the scene by conveying the importance of human relationships and trust in forging sustainable futures.

Having recently won the RIBA award for the best building in London for the Foundry, which houses hundreds of social impact organisations, Susan attributed a lot of this success to collaborative working and ensuring sustainability was at the forefront of action.

Susan Ralphs speaking about the Workplace of Tomorrow

Outcomes of the day

Looking at the outcomes of the day, the forged relationships; the creative tablecloths; the one word evaluation post-its and the short videos that were snapped at lunch whilst people were digesting their first round-table discussions, it is clear that a lot has emerged. Ideas have been shared, dissected and magnified; conversations have led to new acquaintances and promises of working together have been uttered.

There is an understanding that sustainability must be part of the backbone of every organisation and there was a clear thirst for organisations to come together and discuss how it has and has not been working.

We hope that the success of the event will continue and will be aided by a publication that will bind together all the elements of the day to share with attendees and a wider audience. We hope that we can gain further momentum and build on the work already established. We hope that the attendees are inspired to host their own sessions on sustainability questions and effective practice, so that the pool of people engaged in these discussions keeps growing.

It’s so important to make the time and space to discuss the things that matter most. Spending this day learning, sharing, analysing and discussing this important topic was an excellent way to encourage us to talk more about what matters most. Long may shaping sustainable futures be at the heart of many business conversations!

If you were at the event, we’d love to hear your thoughts!