The Do Lectures

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.

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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.

Day 1

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.

As soon as i was dropped off I went for a wander to get my bearings.

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.

Checking out bandwidth.. Not bad on a three MiFi. @ The Do Lectures http://gowal.la/p/hHqw #photo
Documentally
September 14, 2011

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.

So many places to rest, chat, think, explore.

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

The comedienne at #dolectures has said ‘Hello Nerd Camp!’ ..that’s us then. :)
Documentally
September 14, 2011
I’ve tears of laughter at the Tory hating, Bronte loving, fantasist comedian at the #dolectures
Documentally
September 14, 2011
Sat at a camp fire at the #dolectures listening to Chailo sim’s first ever unplugged set. It’s a bit like a Glastonbury moment but in Wales.
Documentally
September 14, 2011

My first musical experience at ‘Do’ was from the band Chailo Sim (on twitter as @IAmReplete) who played a wonderful little unplugged set which bled into a shared jam with whoever wanted to join in.

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.

Back at basecamp. In the teepee listening @greenape @Tom_Herbert_ talk #breadporn.
Documentally
September 14, 2011

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.

Day 2

The following morning and even with his epic bed hair, I recognized Tom as ‘that baker off the TV’ and we had a chat about bread related stuff as well as the quality of Mark’s snoring.

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.

Chatting with @Nayfe from @iamreplete over breakfast. #dolectures
Documentally
September 15, 2011
Attendees here feeling warm at the thought their ticket money allows all the talks here to be shared free with the world #dolectures
Documentally
September 15, 2011

I loved the way that even when glamping everyone has that ‘roughing it’ look.

I still liked sneaking off for a hot shower so my aroma would not offend anyone at dinner.
That said, those that knew how to dress for a party really shone amongst those looking for functional, or at the very least, clean clothing.

I really enjoyed listening to Tom Fishburne talk. One of the few marketeers that has me hanging on his every word.

He’s really and artist though. Disguised as a Marketoonist.
Real life friendship > Internet friendship, but real life + Internet friendship > real life friendship. #dolectures
Documentally
September 15, 2011
The Feral Choir had everyone regardless of singing skills, free our voices from where ever it is we lock them away.

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.

There was no way I could explain the concept of a ferrel choir in 140 characters. And throwing out a vide just got me a load of WTF’s in response.. http://www.keek.com/!AOdaaab
All I will say is it was incredibly cathartic and is something i have taken to doing at random moments. Mostly when alone.

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.

It was great grabbing a moment with Steve Edge. He summed up the Do Lectures pretty well.
What’s your story? ..yes its a simple question but did you ask it to yourself recently? #dolectures
Documentally
September 15, 2011
When I first chatted with Chido Govera It was a few stolen words in a tea break. Little did I know how much her talk would move me the following day.
The early evening saw many of us, beer in hand, head to one of many workshops.

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.

Tom is a proper geek baker and I was sold on the benefits of the infra-red thermometer, even if to just measure the temperature of peoples beers round the camp fire.
After the baking came another amazing dinner where we made new friends, drank way too much wine and hung out with new found friends.

Day 3

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.

Should I die in a teepee fire my DNA will be inexplicably mixed with that of a reindeer. #dolectures
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September 16, 2011
After a hearty breakfast I felt ready to face the day and made the most of the live feed that was pipped into the eating area. Here I could listen, compile media and drink gallons of fair trade coffee.

I bumped into Biologist Colin Tudge while walking up a hill. I love meeting huge minded professionals who can explain things to me simply.

Knowing something is one thing. Effectively sharing that information to the uninitiated is something completely different.
Just learned a great deal from Colin Tudge about farming and how it should be http://t.co/bUrINDqC #dolectures
Documentally
September 16, 2011
And here is his book.. (Well.. one of many).

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.

The steady festival like ferrelisation of everyone’s appearance is a great leveller. We’ve amputated vanity from the Do’ers at #dolectures.
Documentally
September 16, 2011
A chat in one of the domes at fforest. I wish i hadn’t seen their rustic luxury I’m sorely tempted to rent one out. And the views were stunning.
Some speakers who were telling stories thought nothing of bringing in their very recent realisations into their talks. Realisations that may only have occurred that morning.
Listening to @greenape talk at #dolectures he’s a funny guy when he’s not snoring.
Documentally
September 16, 2011
More great food wine and conversation. Just like a normal Friday but in Wales.
Documentally
September 16, 2011

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.

Learning how to Wi-5 off @Hoeken It’s like a high-5 but at a distance over the air. #dolectures
Documentally
September 16, 2011
Listening to an amazing Nico-esque Welsh musician I’m told is called Tasmin La Bon. But it’s hard to google/verify for obvious reasons.
Documentally
September 16, 2011
Day 4
The morning followed a nights sleep that may as well have been measured in minutes.
I woke with new knowledge themed around whisky & saunas. Not the best combination. #dolectures
Documentally
September 17, 2011

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.

Great start to the day at #dolectures lots of attentive but slightly hungover people feeling a communal fuzzyness.
Documentally
September 17, 2011
The Do Lectures knows how to put on a party. From the barbecue, to the bar, to the gig, to the dancing, to the breakout parties that popped up across  the site and finished at breakfast.
After only a couple of days there’s the feeling that 100 people each have 99 new friends.
I don’t totally remember taking the photo of @Tom_Herbert_ above. I do remember having a great time though
Great night last night. It ate a little too much into sleep time but worth it. Some folks were up at 5:30 am canoeing.
Documentally
September 17, 2011
The fragility of mind sparked a number of questions.
At what age were you when you felt like you finally knew who you were? When you got to know yourself? #dolectures
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September 17, 2011
I think I was 30 when i felt like I knew who i was. It was at the end of 10 years of travel & who I am has changed a lot since. #dolectures
Documentally
September 17, 2011
I was genuinely really impressed with what the Do Lectures had done.
If you run a conference & have not seen how the #DoLectures do it. You are not doing your job properly.
Documentally
September 17, 2011
Up to now some passionate speakers at the #dolectures have made me teary. Chido Guvera’s story has made me cry.
Documentally
September 17, 2011

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.

@sirajdatoo yes I’ve been to hundreds of different conferences in the last 4 years. The best was 5 times better than most but only 50% this.
Documentally
September 17, 2011
An impassioned, honest, humble and inspiring talk from surf film maker Micky Smith an epic do’er #dolectures
Documentally
September 17, 2011
Some of the content being shown has jaws dropping all over the room. Micky Smiths work blew people minds.
Dark Side Of The Lens.. http://vimeo.com/14074949 Watch It. #dolectures
Documentally
September 17, 2011

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.

The legend that is Steve Edge was the auctioneer and had lots of fun in the process.
Fun to see @smithsam accidentally start the bidding on a poster for £25,000 #dolectures
Documentally
September 17, 2011
After another locally grown epic meal from the fforest camp staff, we made are way up the wooded hill to there the evenings entertainment was beginning.
Watching Gruff Rhys and his various musical gadgets at #dolectures
Documentally
September 17, 2011
Gruff Rhys played an intimate, retro gadget filled hilarious set to people sat on bales of hay drinking local Ales, cider and great wine. What’s not to like?
Day 5

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.

In the morning the weather had finally closed in on our little part of Wales.
It fit the mood nicely as the air around the showers in the morning was filled with the somber knowledge that the Do Lectures and everything it has meant to it’s participants was coming to a close later that day.
The mood was only lifted slightly at the anticipation of a couple of final lectures and the Burning Man-esque moments reported to have occured in the night between the sauna and the river
My mood was a little pensive as I knew I had to leave before the last couple of lectures and the farewell lunch.
On the last day of the lectures i bumped into Mickey in the tea hut. We had this chat..
Sad to be leaving the #dolectures looking forward to reflecting on this time.
Documentally
September 18, 2011
I was taking so many thoughts, ideas and memories of conversations. Their wisdom rang in my ears..
Civic Economy is a macro model of people empowerment. Redistribution of wealth through the micro enterprises within a society. #DoLectures
CatherineErica
September 18, 2011
“If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping.” Micky Smith #dolectures
i_am_mr_sedders
September 18, 2011

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.

96 hours is a long time to forge these kind of connections when you opt for intense shared experiences over sleep.
The drive home was filled with reflection and plans i’ll be certain to nurture as soon as my mind slips out of overdrive with it’s reward of some much needed sleep.
550 miles later. I’m home. Massive thanks to the #DoLectures for having me.
Documentally
September 18, 2011

I wasn’t alone in my appreciation. This is just a random selection from the steady and still flowing stream of thanks hitting twitter..

@DoLectures my ears are ringing, my soul is singing, there’s reindeer hair and straw everywhere. Thank you #PhotosAndScars
Tom_Herbert_
September 18, 2011
@DoLectures = massively necessary life-changing anti mind fuck.
nayfe
September 18, 2011
Someone once asked me, “Are the #dolectures worth it?” It’s simple: sell your car, go to the #dolectures. It’s worth it (and bikes rule).
CivicSponsor
September 17, 2011
@DoLectures thanks for a great night. Awesome conversations with awesome people. Ideas + energy = change
JaneBryngwyn
September 18, 2011
Amazing time @dolectures. Planning re-entry to normal life after the most exhilarating time ever. Big thanks to everyone who made it special
tomfarrand
September 18, 2011
Thanks to the #dolectures massive for yet another incredible, mind bendingly brain fizzing 5 days. Good to make new friends @Documentally
175viatribunali
September 18, 2011
Had an incredibly good time @DoLectures #DoLectures!!! It was everything I thought it would be and 1000% more!
LiviuLica
September 18, 2011
#dolectures = utopia
paskq
September 18, 2011
Had my mind, body and soul completely blown apart at the @DoLectures an amazing event. As mickey smith would say I am armed with a grin!
searsio
September 18, 2011
@DoLectures was amazing beyond words. My hair smells like campfire, boots splattered with mud, my head & heart full of ideas and inspiration
nhu
September 18, 2011
Congratulations to @DoLectures what an awesome event. #Wales should be very proud.
RichieTrnr
September 18, 2011
The Do Lectures was hands-down the best event I’ve attended in around…oh…30 years or so. Click the hashtag & get a flavor: #DoLectures
lesmckeown
September 18, 2011
Re-emerging from 5 days at @DoLectures in the forest in Wales. Inspirational and rewarding.
dwinter
September 18, 2011
If the @DoLectures was set in outer space it would be called a Jedi Convention. That’s a fact. #dolectures
searsio
September 19, 2011
I have some serious sleep to catch up on after the #DoLectures. Resuming abnormal service tomorrow.
Documentally
September 18, 2011
It”s going to take a few days to recalibrate after attending the @DoLectures in Wales.
RSWorks
September 19, 2011

I agree. My recalibration though will be taken from a new datum.

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If you want to see who some of the attendees of the 2011 Do Lectures see my list:

http://twitter.com/#!/list/Documentally/doers

If i have missed you please let me know @Documentally

There is a wealth of information in the videos from past events.. http://www.dolectures.com/

..and the original Storify is linked here: http://storify.com/documentally/the-do-lectures

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