Building a More Beautiful World

A One Day Workshop with Schumacher North
Facilitated by Anna Harris, David Midgley and Adrian Lovett
Saturday 8 March, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.   Swarthmore Education Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, Leeds LS3 1AD

Shared Lunch – Donation requested.   Click here to book

Inspired by the ideas of Charles Eisenstein, the aim of this workshop is to re-ignite the idealism, enthusiasm and optimism that motivates those working for environmental sustainability, economic justice and a better society, but that can so easily be worn down by the repeated shocks of a global economic system that seems determined to destroy the results of our best efforts.

The workshop will be divided into three sessions, led by the three facilitators.  Each session will aim to build connections and mutual support between participants, draw out the ideas and gifts each participant has to offer, and work towards specific, practical actions that people can begin to work together on after the workshop.

Session One: Optimism in Dark Times  – David Midgley

Accelerating climate change, the shocking injustices of austerity policies, and apparent widespread indifference to these grave problems can readily induce despair, undermining our motivation to work for positive change.  But if we succumb to the despair, we become part of the problem – in fact, arguably, despair itself is the problem – so how do we break out of this loop?

Charles Eisenstein has shown us that we need not despair – the current crisis is a symptom of a world-view that has reached the end of its useful life, and if we recognise what is going on we can be the agents of transition that bring a new world to birth out of the ruins of the old.  Through exercises, dialogue and building connections with one another we will begin to translate this awareness into action.

Session Two: Working through confusion – Adrian Lovett

I was hoping ‘it’ (the more beautiful world Charles Eisenstein talks about) would be possible without magical technofix surprises – like biochar, or Mayan bread fruit to feed our heavily-populated world  – and that instead we could do ‘it’ just by changing our attitudes and our behaviours, so that it all comes right, regardless.

But actually, it all seems (to me) quite likely to come out all wrong, regardless – especially if we do nothing, even with hope. It’s all going pear-shaped far too fast – the forces of greed/ignorance/wilfulness seem to be surging ahead. So we can’t ‘do’ nothing. But what to do?? If we argue with them, won’t they just dismiss us as cranks, or wishful thinkers, and reject our views, because they are from a different story? And don’t they have the power (of the old story)?

So this workshop session will explore and share what we, ourselves, are thinking – and try to build on that.

Session Three: Emergence – Being and Becoming – Anna Harris

This workshop is about tuning in to what is wanting to emerge through me as an individual, and us as a group. Leaving behind our ideas of what should be, acknowledging fears which close us down, but bringing with us our tender vulnerability, and exploring together, we begin to open up to the possibility that something within us is being called into being/becoming ­

This life energy, which we experience deep within as stillness, is also movement. It is always complete in itself. And, also, always gives rise to movement out of and away from itself. Not because it isn’t enough, or needs more, but because that is its nature, and that is my nature too. By aligning myself to the expression of the life impulse I regard as myself, I can trust in not knowing, allowing myself to experience fully the significance and preciousness of this moment, trusting that it has its own organic path to a future we cannot yet see.

We will do some exercises in partners and groups to bring this alive.

Schumacher North North-East

Schumacher North North-East was launched last December with a showing of the film No Impact Man at the Star and Shadow community cinema in Byker, Newcastle.  About 70 people watched the film, and the group plans to stage many more events aimed at helping to build a caring, fair and sustainable society.  Mike Winstanley is coordinating the group – watch this space for announcements of future events.  Mike can be contacted by email at northeast[at]

Gasland The Movie

7 p.m., Thursday 7 November at Swarthmore Education Centre

“When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.” 

(More about the film here)

Winner of numerous awards, director Josh Fox’s expose of the environmental crime known as Fracking has sparked outrage and determined protest wherever it has been shown.

Join us for a showing of this inspiring movie and a discussion of what we can do to stop fracking in its tracks in the UK before our water is poisoned and our carbon footprint goes through the roof.

We will be showing the film at 7 pm in Room 2 at the Swarthmore Centre (2-7 Woodhouse Square Leeds,  LS3 1AD · The centre is wheelchair accessible – phone 0113 243 2210 to arrange an accessible parking space).

Charles Eisenstein in Leeds and York!

charles2York Schumacher Lecture now on YouTube!

Schumacher North was delighted and honoured to host one of the most penetrating and radical thinkers who are addressing the root causes of the multiple crises facing humanity today.

Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics and The Ascent of Humanity, accepted our invitation to give a Schumacher Lecture in York and a Day Workshop in Leeds.  Most known for his concept of the Gift Economy, a radical alternative to the mainstream concept that bases our economic relationships on competition and greed, Charles brings great intellectual rigour combined with a dauntless optimism to the giant challenge of thinking out a new way of ordering our society and economy that could restore sanity, sustainability and humanness to a world gone awry.

Here are some opinions on Charles’ books:

Brilliant and original, with great depth of insight and understanding, Eisenstein’s Ascent of Humanity easily ranks with the works of such giants of our age as David Bohm, Julian Jaynes, Jean Gebser, Whitehead. It is a profoundly serious, indeed somber portrait of our times, even as it opens a door of honest hope amidst the dark destiny we have woven about us. Accept the challenge of this major accomplishment and discover the light shining within it.

Joseph Chilton Pearce
Author of many books, including The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, Evolution’s End, and The Biology of Transcendence

“I consider Charles Eisenstein one of the up-and-coming great minds of our time. Rarely have I met a person who combines such philosophical and spiritual depth with such practical insights into the cultural and institutional origins of the potentially terminal dysfunctions of modern society – and the potential solutions.”
– David Korten, author of The Great Turning


Northern Schumacher Lecture 2013: Sacred Economics

Northern Schumacher Lecture 2013

Charles Eisenstein

Sacred Economics: Money and the Crisis of Civilization

7 p.m., Friday November 22nd, Tempest Anderson Hall, York


Charles Eisenstein, visionary author of two widely acclaimed books, spoke in York about his latest ideas for tackling the multiple crises – economic, political and above all environmental – that are pushing humanity into a radically different paradigm of economics, science and society.  Far from despairing about the widespread culture of separation, exploitation and self-interest, in this inspiring lecture he offered new and practical ways to challenge them and, instead, create a world where generosity, compassion and a sense of the sacred become the major themes of our economic relationships. A rare chance to hear and dialogue with one of the most insightful and visionary thinkers alive today.

Charles Eisenstein’s books – The Ascent of Humanity (2007) and Sacred Economics (2011) are available for free download from his website:

Videos of the talk are now available (in four parts) on YouTube:

Introduction by David Midgley:

Optimism (and a summary of his world view, for future reference):

Intermission for 10 minutes of discussion between members of the audience – in pairs

What if money were no barrier to action:


The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

A One Day Workshop With

Charles Eisenstein

Broadcasting Place, Leeds Metropolitan University,
Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9EN
10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. Saturday 23rd November 2013

This workshop will give a hands-on experience of the inspirational insight behind Charles Eisenstein’s eagerly awaited forthcoming book of the same title: that our sense of helplessness in the face of the overwhelming global crises facing humanity is an illusion created by our culture’s dysfunctional sense of self.

As we awaken from the dream (or nightmare) of separate, competing and mutually threatening ego-selves, to the reality of radical interdependence, or Interbeing, we discover new ways to transform our world through the surprising power of small, everyday acts of courage, kindness and self-trust.

Charles Eisenstein is the author of two seminal works setting out a far-reaching critique of the dominant world-view that has led us to the edge of the abyss, and offering a new and powerful positive alternative:

The Ascent of Humanity (2007)
and Sacred Economics (2011)

Both are available as free downloads from his website:

(or of course you can support Charles’ work by purchasing the printed books); reading one or both of these prior to attending the workshop would be helpful but is not essential.

Register for this event at



Windmill – September 2013

The next Windmill will start at 7pm on Tue 24th Sept at David and Pam Cundall’s house, 1 Gledhow Park Road, Leeds, LS7 4JX.

It will be led by Anna Harris, based on Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Third Industrial Revolution. Jeremy Rifkin sees in the merging of renewable energy production with the internet, a democratising and transformational influence on social relationships in education, health, the economy, and paving the way for a partnership with nature and the biosphere.

‘In the twenty-first century many people will be generating their own green energy in their homes, offices and factories and sharing it with one another across intelligent distributed electricity networks, – intergrids – just like people now create their own information and share it on the internet’.

Rifkin’s book The Third Industrial Revolution, how lateral power is transforming energy, the economy, and the world, is a beacon of hope in desperate times. Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) and its 5 pillars has been endorsed by the EU and already several European cities have invited the TIR team to plan the transition to a post carbon economy, eg Rome, Utrecht, Nord-pas de Calais, even Kazakhstan.

If at all possible, please read the book before the 24th September Windmill. Or Wikipedia has a section on Jeremy Rifkin,which seems up to date, and there are many videos and articles cited there.

Newcomers and friends are very welcome. Please bring a small amount of food to share. If you can’t make it for 7pm, you can skip the food and come at 7:30pm. We finish by 10pm with an opportunity to leave earlier at around 9pm.

Suggestions for future Windmills would be most welcome. The following Windmill will be on November 12th.

Schumacher North Retreat

Currer Laithe Farm, 14-16 June 2013

This will be Schumacher North’s third residential weekend retreat -for those who haven’t been before, the weekend usually includes some meditation or morning practice, a good walk or 2, possibly some circle dancing and/or singing, cooking and eating together, with very much the feeling of people ‘mucking in’ together. All this along with stimulating discussion and good company, and up to you how much you join in. It begins Friday evening with supper and ends after lunch on Sunday.

Individual contributions in terms of leading a discussion, presenting some favourite videos, or bringing some home cooked food, all welcome. We will also need to make sure we clean up after ourselves!

Here is a quote from a recent Schumacher North discussion which could serve as a theme around which to base some of the discussions and other content:

‘Basically we have been looking intensively at the question – Where can we find realistic hope, and what practically can we do to contribute to the creation of a fair, sustainable, harmonious world?  We looked in some detail at the facts, figures and principles, and at some of the more philosophical aspects such as Gaia Theory; now people want to continue to explore how we can develop our own individual contribution and support one another to be effective and not grind to a halt in despair.’

Cost is on a sliding scale between £40 – £80 for the weekend including food, depending on ability to pay.  Possibility of offering some bursaries in exchange for volunteering help.

The venue in Keighley is very accessible, comfortable, and attractive – for more information and pictures see their website,

Regional Programme

At the Schumacher North Annual Gathering in February, a proposal was put forward to develop a programme of educational events in locations around the North of England region.

The purpose of the programme is to begin to extend the activities of Schumacher North beyond its current focus in Leeds, building on the support of committed individuals in key locations including Sheffield, York, Manchester, Hebden Bridge and Newcastle.

Events could include weekend residential courses, Schumacher Lectures, day workshops, evening classes, Windmill evenings, retreats, etc.  It is hoped that these would stimulate the formation of local groups which could take on ongoing responsibility for organising events, with support and assistance from the central group.

These proposals have been discussed with Schumacher College, who are willing to act as a full partner in the programme as part of their current Outreach initiative to make the College’s distinctive approach to Transformative Education for Sustainability more widely available.  This will give Schumacher North access to international calibre speakers and teachers, to Schumacher College’s extensive mailing list and to organisational support from the College.

Breaking news: Charles Eisenstein, author of ‘Sacred Economics’ and ‘The Ascent of Humanity’ (see Windmill – 14th May 2013), has agreed to an invitation from Schumacher North to deliver a Schumacher Lecture and a day course (we are negotiating for this to be extended to a weekend) in November this year.  Charles is one of the most innovative and profound thinkers on the present transition of human civilisation, and we are delighted to be able to include him in our programme.

More details of events in our Regional Programme are expected to be confirmed soon.  If you are interested in hosting an event in your area please contact David Midgley at

Schumacher North Annual Gathering

Our third Annual Gathering was held on Saturday 9th February at Swarthmore Education Centre in Leeds. It was an opportunity for all Schumacher North suppporters to help build a programme of activities that will enable us to contribute more effectively to the ongoing challenge of creating a world that is both economically and socially just as well as ecologically sustainable, in the face of sustained attacks on these goals by the present government and the global neoliberal austerity ‘consensus’.

The day was roughly divided into two parts: the morning was devoted to general discussion of the question of how social change is brought about and how we can be effective in our own activities; and the afternoon to discussion and decisions about the direction and activities of Schumacher North over the coming year. At the end of the morning we also held our official AGM.

The morning session began with input from several invited speakers, telling us about the campaigns and projects they are involved in, and leading on to general discussion of the issues raised by campaigning in general. After a coffee break we continued these discussions in small groups – the outputs from these groups can be found here.

We’d like to thank our speakers for giving us their time, and for the information they brought us which stimulated a great deal of useful discussion. So that people can follow up these campaigns and projects, the contact details are as follows:

  • Pauline Neale from Oxfam Leeds discussing the “Enough Food IF” campaign – see . Also see World Development Movement: WDM Leeds on facebook.
  • Chiara Tornaghi discussing Leeds Urban Food Justice Platform ( ) and the Feeds Leeds Network ( ) – there’s a list of all the partner projects, individuals and organisations with contact details.
  • David Smith, active in the Green Party, Keep Our NHS Public (KONP – see Keep Our NHS Public-Leeds facebook group) and others; David and Sarah also spoke about the No Incinerator Leeds Campaign (see facebook group NIL – No Incinerator Leeds).
  • John Davies from Hands Off Our Homes, discussing the campaign against the “bedroom tax” (cuts to Housing Benefit for social housing tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms) – see or email to be kept in touch
  • We missed Amy November and Matt Carmichael from Leeds Fuel Poverty Action Network, who were both unable to come on the day, but you can check out the facebook group, and also find info on the TIDAL website

The afternoon session began with a whole group discussion around issues of inclusivity and access. We looked at various options for making our events more child- and carer-friendly. We reached a consensus on the principle that anyone organising an event should take responsibility for ensuring that provision for childcare was in place (eg by doing a call-out for people to be on a rota), and that the arrangements should be advertised to make clear to carers that children are welcome.

We discussed several other dimensions of accessibility: the location of events and how it affects people from outside Leeds: the way in which events are publicised; and the possibility of taking events and activities out into communities and using local venues rather than trying to get people to “come to us”. We agreed that this would need to be done in collaboration with local groups/venues rather than us “descending” on a neighbourhood as an outside organisation.

The remainder of the afternoon was devoted to the core business of the annual gathering: the proposal and discussion of events and activities for SN over the coming year. We approached this Open Space-style, with people making their proposals to the group and having some general discussion, then (after the break) splitting up to explore the ideas which interested us and signing up to be involved in making them happen.

Proposals included the following (not all of theese will be progressed in the short term!)

  • Improving our outreach, and especially e-communications by more consistent use of facebook, etc., and via other groups’ events– eg mentioning SN at Green Drinks events (and vice-versa).
  • Creating a regional network concerned with biochar. This could include research into uses of biochar, technological problem-solving, production, and creating public awareness.
  • A “dispersed programme” of SN lectures, workshops etc., to begin to build a regional network with local SN Groups in other parts of the region taking on organising events such as Schumacher Lectures, weekend courses etc. Possibilities for this exist in Newcastle, York, Manchester, Sheffield and Hebden Bridge.
  • A retreat in the Yorkshire Dales (there is a promising possible venue in Keighley, Currer Laithe) – to include discussions, walks, film-showings, dance sessions, meditation etc as well as home-cooked food and chill-out time.
  • Community events in local venues, eg Oblong in Woodhouse, Burley Lodge Centre, etc. These could be one-off talks, a series of evening classes, or we could take on coordinating something in which a number of groups took part.
  • Clive Lord is keen to talk to any groups about the Citizen’s Income – we felt we might be able to support this by having a session on CI as part of a programme of community events as above. NB Clive’s blog is at so do have a read and spread the word!
  • Pauline Neale is keen for SN to get behind the “IF” campaign (see Again, we felt we might be able to incorporate this into our community activities. Of course, there may be energy for a food justice working group to do something bigger…
  • Film nights – These could be small cosy events at people’s houses, and/or could be part of the community events – we’ll collect suggestions for films – please send in!
  • A series of dialogue days involving TRUG, (Transdisciplinary Research (Urbal) Group (aka Sustainability Think Tank), Leeds Permaculture Network and Schumacher North.

Thanks very much to everyone who attended and made the day a success; please stay in touch and get involved if you can. A special thanks also to the staff at the Swarthmore Centre for hosting us and being friendly and helpful as always.