For me the Do Lectures hasn’t just broken the conference mould. It’s turned it outside in. Diverse, inclusive, unbranded, organic, fluid, honest.
Soon after my arrival I realised as a participant that this is not just a ride. It’s not something people are paying to see. This is an investment in yourself and others. A rollercoaster with a steering wheel everyone can get their hands on.
I was invited to attend The Do Lectures. In a quiet corner of West Wales it’s a tiny event that’s not a conference, not a festival, more a meeting of minds where everyone is a speaker and listener combined. It’s inspiration has been emanating from it’s tented setting for the last four years and continuously from the minds of the attendees as they visit and return to their respective countries.
After a 4 & a half hour drive, I was welcomed to fforest camp like an old friend. And yet I’d never been before.
Our bags were taken to our accommodation and we were in turn picked up in loaned Honda hybrids.
The venue was a massive double teepee. Everything seemed rwell designed and thought out.
I took a peek of the inside before anything kicked off.
I wasn’t expecting much of a 3G connection and was in fact told I could have a ‘lift to the internet’ at the end of every day. It turned out that my 3 MiFi combined with a small solar panel, was more than enough to enable me to share some of the conversations and experiences.
Another teepee, slightly smaller this time, with a stove and chill out area was going to be home for the next 5 days. It had adventure written all over it. Unfortunately if sleep was written on it, it was too small to see. Little did I know how involved the next few days would be.
The view was out across a crescent of participants tents.
The whole setting was beautiful. Tucked away in a wooded valley, you felt immediately relaxed when you entered fforest camp. A space that spidered throughout the woods to beautiful campsites nooks and cranny’s.
I got to see a lot of the single room pub over the next few days. It’s quality local real ales, bottled and from the keg were never to blame for my slightly fuzzy mornings. The blame for that would go to the Welsh whisky that came afterwards.
The amazing staff were Ninja-like in how they worked and as a result hard to spot because they were laughing and joking with all of us. Unless you were being handed a plate of delicious food from someone in a fforest t-shirt, everyone looked like they were there to enjoy themselves.
The event was kicked off with lots of laughing as we were entertained in the main tent by @JosieLong
Over the following days Nayfe and I became good friends and shared more than a decent wine or two. Wine that he always seemed to magic out of some hidden alcove.
When it was time to head to my Teepee I found two really interesting albeit slightly noisy tentmates. I later found out that it was @Greenape with the epic snoring talent. A talent that I vowed to at least match.
Breakfast was a great start to the social side of the day. Fruit, eggs, fresh granola and chunky toast set in a really intimate space that nurtured excited conversations.
I loved the way that even when glamping everyone has that ‘roughing it’ look.
I really enjoyed listening to Tom Fishburne talk. One of the few marketeers that has me hanging on his every word.
It was hard to explain what those at fforest camp were experiencing. Although I tried through twitter and the snippets of audio. And then there were the times I liked to throw out a curve ball.
At lunch, in the tea hut, through the shower walls, in the bar, walking through the woods, in the camp.. Oh.. and in the event tent.
So many inspiring stories, on day one at The Do Lectures. I felt like my head was already full.
Still I was having too much fun wandering around the fforest camp grounds recording conversations to worry about my brain capacity.
Amongst the many workshops I could attend I opted for the one run by my roomy @Tom_Herbert_ The bread making workshop. It was great fun learning about the finer points of baking with sourdough and experimenting with cooking pizza on an open fire.
The general hospitality of the night before rendered the morning of day three a little fuzzy. My mouth felt a little furry but I remembered I’d used a reindeer pelt as a pillow.
I bumped into Biologist Colin Tudge while walking up a hill. I love meeting huge minded professionals who can explain things to me simply.
I met Caroline Flint on the way to her car, a passionate midwife who had cried during her talk setting off those their to learn.
Well not exactly a normal Friday. I don’t think you could find a more inspired and buzzed up group of people in one place. All enjoying each others company, all enjoying the fruits of the land.
We didn’t have a bad meal and it was served from smiling staff who knew they were doing us a favour. Locally and naterally grown produce has to be the best.
And of course there was the wine.
Still, breakfast was too amazing to miss and of course there were more great talks and workshops. I spotted @Hoeken relaxing in a catatonic state in the fforest lodge. Looks like he had not made it to his official bed.
This year saw added interest in what we were doing due to the increased conversations happening online. I was asked again and again if ‘Do’ was really as good as the attendees were saying.
Watch this full screen at the very least. With headphones or decent speakers turned up. I dare you not to be inspired.
Now imagine this kind of feeling ebbing and flowing through the talks, the breaks, the casual conversations over a coffee or beer. Round the camp fires and in the woods. For days. You can’t help but be affected. And it pains you that you can’t explain it to anyone that wasn’t there.
Yes the talks are available online for free, for anyone to enjoy who wasn’t there. This is made possible those who bought tickets.. by those that were there working. By the speakers talking for free. And their reward is the other 90% of the value that exists outside the main tent, in this amazing space.
I was told the lectures are not only not for profit but actually run at a loss each year. To help to reduce that loss the end of Saturdays’ lectures were punctuated with an auction of unusual, unobtainable or unique items sold to ensure the event can survive another year.
2pm seemed like an early night after the last few days and as I was in earshot of my very local woodland sauna, I was aware the party didn’t stop until much later.
I said goodbye to some new friends and on heading out of fforest camp walked trough more than a couple of similarly emotional goodbyes as people involving people who were strangers only 4 days ago.
I wasn’t alone in my appreciation. This is just a random selection from the steady and still flowing stream of thanks hitting twitter..
I agree. My recalibration though will be taken from a new datum.
If you want to see who some of the attendees of the 2011 Do Lectures see my list:
If i have missed you please let me know @Documentally
..and the original Storify is linked here: http://storify.com/documentally/the-do-lectures