connectionWell, as the week wraps up, I can honestly say it’s been an amazing week of events for this year’s Resilience Festival. I feel quite honoured to have been a part of the celebration this year. So far, I’ve been able to attend The Great Turning film screening and discussion, a wonderful film screening of The Garden hosted by our partners at OPIRG Guelph, as well as tonight’s Keynote Speaker event where we heard from local heros on the festival’s theme of “Unleashing Your Awesome”. I also facilitated an amazing visioning session and got to share my experiences with many new faces at a film screening of In Transition 2.0. I am also incredibly excited to attend the Main Day celebration at St. George’s Church tomorrow, including Seedy Saturday, The Reskilling Fair, Workshops, Candle Light Potluck, and Open Mic Entertainment. It’s hard to believe so many awesome activities can be jammed into a single day.

I wanted to take some time to reflect on the keynote speakers from this evening and share a message that I took away from the event. Kevin Sutton, Chris Green, Sally Ludwig, and Christine Mills all shared their personal experiences, stories, and views on how they believe that we can move forward with our own work and unleash awesome in our lives. Each speaker brought their own background and history to the discussion, but there were definitely some common threads between the presentations that really spoke to me.

Chris Green from The Guelph Outdoor School led the presentations and talked about deep nature connection and coyote mentorship. One of the points that he brought up that really resonated with me is how we all feel when we take the time to connect with the natural world (which he took the time to point out includes ourselves and the people around us!). Whether it’s intentional or not, we all feel better when we strengthen our connection with the natural world, which he described as “tentacles reaching out to the world around us”. I thought it was a great visual! He also explained that when our connections strengthen, it’s like our inner “switch board starts to light up with green lights”. I think everyone in the room knew exactly what he was speaking to when he presented this amazing imagery.

Transition Guelph Co-Founders, Sally Ludwig and Christine Mills spoke next about their experience in starting Transition Guelph, the space they were in when starting the initiative, and how the movement grew in Guelph. Both also spoke about the nature of “Inner Transition” which is so core in the Transition model. In addition to the external connections that Chris Green spoke about, Sally and Chris spoke about the connections that we have to make within ourselves, and how that personal connection moves us to action. That motivation can come from different places for each of us, whether it’s concern for future generations, or living a lifestyle that contributes to a whole earth economy, taking the time to recognize the inner change that happens is key to the movement and it’s success.

Finally, Spoken Word Artist Kevin Sutton shared an amazing poem appropriately titled “Keynote” and did an amazing job of connecting all of us in the room! When listening to spoken word, I often let myself be taken away by the rhythm of the poem, so I probably won’t do his message justice, but what I took away built on the previous speakers’ themes of connection, and focused on the connection that we must form with each other in order to make change happen. This sense of communal or community connection was delivered beautifully in his piece.

This theme of connection has been prevalent throughout my festival experience this year. Thinking back to the discussions I had with folks at the Great Turning film screening, one of the questions we were asked to explore was “What keeps your inner fire burning?”. I got the chance to talk with about a dozen people around this topics, and while there were a number of different responses, I think they can be grouped into a few key categories: 1) taking action and seeing change happen, 2) continually learning and educating ourselves on key topics, and 3) taking time to reflect, or taking “down time”. One of the key thoughts I left with that evening was how these three topics were a continuous cycle, and how everyone there agreed that all three kept them moving forward with the work they were doing. I can see definitely similarities between these three topics, and the three types of connection that were discussed at tonight’s keynote events. All three types of connection: nature, inner, and community help create a clearer path of how we can move forward in our own journeys and in our own work.

To wrap up, this year’s festival theme “Unleash Your Awesome” has been a wonderful way to explore how we can all take action – big or small – to realize our potential and contribute to something bigger. Tonight’s keynote talk really helped frame how I can focus on unleashing my own personal awesome – by fostering connection with nature, my community, and also within myself.