Our current workshops all offer a combination of creativity, contemplation and action – the three streams of our charity’s focus.
Feedback from participants at HMP Dumfries
“Free Thinking helped me discover philosophy, to question everything, including my own ego and to open my mind to all ideas and opinions. I have been able to discover more about myself than I ever thought possible.”
“I learnt to listen and understand other views.”
“Free Thinking helped me understand that differences of opinion didn’t have to lead to argument or hostility.”
“The best thing about Free Thinking was that I could discuss things without the fear of being judged.”
“I have learnt not to hate society.”
Free Thinking is a weekly discursive forum for prisoners. It focuses on ‘ways of thinking’ and ‘ways of being’, with a particular emphasis on ecological thought: how do we relate to ourselves and to others in this interconnected web of life?
The forum is adapted from the COPI structure (Community of Philosophical Inquiry), which offers a clearly defined question-and-response framework, enabling prisoners from all educational backgrounds to take part.
This is an ongoing series of workshops delivered weekly at HMP Dumfries.
Free Thinking introduces philosophical ideas through the presentation of poetry, visual art, creative non-fiction and natural objects.
The aim of Free Thinking is:
- To facilitate wellbeing, resilience and creative freedom for the incarcerated.
- To stimulate prisoners’ engagement with learning and creative thinking via the arts & ecology.
- To improve participants’ interpersonal and communication skills.
- To provide an opportunity for participants to safely explore the ecological self through creative thinking and discussion.
- To demonstrate the potential of Free Thinking to support the process of personal development – fostering hope, motivation and responsibility.
This project has been made possible by a grant from Localgiving and People’s Postcode Trust, a grant-giving charity funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We have also received funding from G & H Roberts Community Trust, Robertson Trust and Foundation Scotland (Baillie Gifford). Thank you to all our grant givers. Without their support, we would not be able to continue offering this work. Alongside the grants, we have also raised over £5000 through crowdfunding. Thank you everyone for your generosity and ongoing belief in this project.
It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.Krishnamurti
Resilient Futures is a two-tier workshop for building individual and collective resilience in the face of climate change, ecological crisis and systems collapse. The workshop offers a combination of contemplation and practical, hands-on immersion, and is run as a week-long residential in rural Scotland.
The contemplative element follows a 5-step structure, enabling a group of up to 12 participants to process psychoemotional and spiritual responses in a safe and well-facilitated space. The five steps are structured around the five essential messages of initiation, a ritual process which invites us into ‘bigger picture awareness’, enabling our relationship to nature, fellow humans, suffering and love, to shift and re-member itself anew.
The five messages (also known as ‘the five hard truths’) have been reconfigured into questions, to facilitate an open and fertile space in which participants can explore their own and others’ responses. The questions provide a springboard for us to launch ourselves into the deep water of our times:
- Is life meant to be hard?
- Are we important?
- Are our lives about us?
- Are we in control?
- What does it mean to die?
If we choose to dive with these five questions as provocations, what new understanding might we arrive at? How might these questions prompt us to live more honestly in relation to the crises of our times?
Resilient Futures is not a form of therapy, but is therapeutic and potentially transformative: participants report increased wellbeing, empowerment and relief in experiencing shared vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the cornerstone of confidence.Brené Brown
The second tier of Resilient Futures is made up of practical learning and skill-sharing, and immersion in nature. Emphasis is given equally to land-based skills (land stewardship, permaculture, foraging, green-building), and to simply being in nature, including solo time in isolation.
The aim of Resilient Futures is:
- To raise awareness of our global predicament.
- To support one another and our local communities.
- To promote individual & collective wellbeing and resilience in the face of eco-anxiety, climate change and systems collapse.
- To encourage people to protect ecosystems and biodiversity.
- To support people to transform the way they relate to the environment, to themselves and to others (human and nonhuman alike).
During the current covid-19 pandemic, we’re meeting online via Zoom to offer taster sessions of the first tier of the workshop only. We will continue to offer this weekly for five weeks, beginning in March, June and November, until we’re able to meet together again safely, face-to-face.
Payment for the taster sessions is by donation. We suggest a minimum of £50 for the 5-week Zoom programme. Those on a low income or out of work are encouraged to pay what they can or to participate for free.
Embodied Poetry is a trading arm of the charity and currently offers two residential workshops every year (April & October) on the Isle of Lismore, facilitated by Em Strang.
The unusual combination of a rigorous, intellectual approach to poetry, alongside and in equal measure to a somatic experience and psychospiritual exploration of it, means it offers writers a unique and transformative approach to creative expression.
For more information, see Embodied Poetry.
“It’s a game changer!”Participant poet, 2019