School of Curiosity

School of Curiosity

School of Curiosity

Explore. Dream. Discover.

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So…there was a son of a witch, a Lord and a nerd hero…

September 11, 2013

So…there was a son of a witch, a Lord and a nerd hero…

Yes, we know it sounds like the opening line from a stand-up comedy routine. It would be funny, if it wasn’t true. These are just three of the faculty that will bring to life The School of Curiosity experience at our ‘End of Summer School’ Villefranche-sur-Mer 23-25 October 2013. You can download the full prospectus here.

Meanwhile, here’s a bit about the whole faculty in 140 characters or less…

Lord Andrew Mawson: One of the world’s great social entrepreneurs. The original ‘Yes Man’.
Dr Brian Palmer: Branded ‘Nerd Hero’ at Harvard where 600 queued to hear him. Expert on happiness.
Eleanor Yule: BAFTA nominated film maker asks how will your story end?
Tom Calderbank: Son of a witch; poet; philosopher; rescuer of ancient buildings.
Malcolm McClean: Used the principles he found in a children’s story to create a business and a new life.
Dawn Gibbins: Gave away £250K on TV’s Secret Millionaire then decided to Feng Shui a whole town.
Marina Nicholas: Conceived Bruno when doctors said impossible. Sold house to make one minute of cartoon animation. Sold in 38 countries.
Jeff Hessing: US artist who will re-aquaint you with the ‘art of seeing’.
Felix Richard: Lithographer who produces beautiful prints on ancient presses.
Watt Nicoll: Voted world’s best motivational speaker. Say’s “You can have anything you want if you can answer four simple questions”.
Surprise guests: Don’t be surprised if we surprise you.

Have a curious day.

Lord Andrew Mawson will be at The School of Curiosity

August 6, 2013

Lord Mawson at The Bromley-by-Bow Centre

Lord Andrew Mawson will join the ‘faculty’ for The School of Curiosity ‘End of Summer School’ 23/24/25 October in Villefranche-sur-Mer. You can book here Here’s a little bit about him….

Andrew Mawson arrived in the run down London neighbourhood of Bromley-by-Bow as a fresh-faced Reverend taking on his first Parish. He found a church with a leaking roof, £400 in a bank account and a congregation of twelve people, all aged over 70. On the face of it the future didn’t look too bright.

He became frustrated at what he saw as a voluntary and social sector having endless management meetings, spouting ideology and with endless talk about equal opportunity, whilst all around lay poverty and decay.

He says “There were people like Karen who lived in a tower block with three kids who would say ‘well I don’t want to join a committee, but what we really need around here is a decent nursery and a health facility’. I was hearing massive frustration from people and thought that maybe here was an opportunity”.

Curious about the energy and frustration all around him, he began to just say ‘yes’ and back people and their passions. He found the sculptor Santiago Bell, who had been imprisoned in Chile by the Pinochet Regime, sharing a flat nearby. Santiago set up a studio in the church and began to produce amazing works from wood he found in skips. More people began to come to see what was happening. Janet, who had been a professional dancer set up a dance school in another corner of the church; Eve came and set up a nursery; then Sue created the Pie in the Sky café.

By now momentum was gathering and Gordon, the architect, came up with a plan to rip out the church and create a central canopy area, which could be used by any faith, an art gallery and Britain’s first integrated nursery.

When Jean, a local lady suffering from cancer died after being badly let down by the NHS, Mawson decided that if the NHS would not build them a health centre they would do it themselves. They did, using the same hand-made bricks that they have at Glyndbourne.

What grew out of a church with a leaking roof is today known as the Bromley-by-Bow Centre. It employs over 100 local people has an income in excess of £2 million and includes the integrated health centre and a three acre park, providing over 125 activities every week. Several businesses have spun out of the centre.

Mawson says “Human beings if they can connect in a certain way can become amazingly powerful things. If you start from people and their passion you can get 120% commitment. Instead of building a theory of society as government tends to do we need to rebuild society around passion”.

Today Mawson is using exactly the same principles to regenerate St Pauls Way, an area of East London adjacent to the Olympic Park. It will include a new £40 million school, a health centre, redeveloped housing and a new £1 million streetscape.

It all began with some simple ideas about backing people in a crumbling old church. The clues to the macro lie in the micro.


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