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Lake District gathering sows seeds of change
THE seeds of a new movement for radical thinking and social action have been sown in the Lake District.
While bankers, politicians and businessmen gathered in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the Lakes played host to the inaugural meeting of the World Open Forum.
Organisers said the aim was to stimulate new ideas and drive social change by drawing on the rich heritage of Lake District thinkers and reformers such as Ruskin, Wordsworth, Harriet Martineau and Charlotte Mason.
The forum was the brainchild of Grasmere resident Professor David Jackman, chairman of the British Standards Institute’s sustainable development committee.
It was organised jointly with Richard Little, of award-winning development company Impact International, which supported the three-day event.
It was attended by delegates from all over Britain, beginning on Wednesday, with a meeting at Brantwood in Coniston, the home of the John Ruskin.
On Thursday and Friday meetings were held in Grasmere and at the Ambleside campus of the University of Cumbria.
Prof Jackman said: “Participants considered a range of local and global issues from a rather broader perspective than their counterparts at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
"It was deliberately organised along sustainable lines, not the gravy train of its namesake.”
One highlight was the opportunity to view original Wordsworth manuscripts at the Jerwood Centre in Grasmere.
“The forum found that Wordsworth’s ideas about community, the environment and individual responsibility are highly relevant to current debate,” said Prof Jackman.
The Grasmere stage of the forum concluded with a conference dinner at Lancrigg Hotel.
Richard Lemmey, of the Hilltop Partnership and previously head of outdoor education at the Ambleside campus of the University of Cumbria, related these principles to the concept of a ‘sustainable community univer-sity’ serving local needs.
Prof Jackman said: “Delegates agreed that the forum served a useful purpose in developing new ideas, galvanising change and commissioning practical projects.”