William Blake to Hackney Social Enterprise & Sustainability Walks

Sunflower framed on side of Hub 67 Hackney Wick oblong Ah Sunflower BYOB HT

What’s the link between William Blake and the Hackney wave of social enterprise?

And where does Embercombe (“experiential programmes that aim to ignite a spark of courageous and active leadership for a just, peaceful, and sustainable world.”) fit into all of this?

This morning I’ve been planning another of the Hackney Tours experimental walks which aim to break new ground with an old format – using the walking tour to facilitate personal growth and societal change. To put this in an East London context, this follows in a centuries-old Hackney tradition of ‘rocking the boat’ with socially-progressive initiatives, as I discussed at last November’s Hackney: A Social Enterprise Borough event.

You can join the East London Innovators, Embercome Changemakers event (book here) and meet the myriad of different characters that make up 6heads. On the 28th we’re creating a space in Hackney where we can channel the inspiration that these current local projects generate to see where we’re at ourselves, in our own personal journeys of change.

Commune Festival hands touching logo pic
Commune Festival in Hackney Wick recently showed how great things happen when people come together to achieve something positive.

So what’s the William Blake connection, other than my written contribution to William Blake’s Mystic Map of London with artist Louisa Albani? Well Blake was a visionary and a prophet. Like Mary Wollstonecraft, he couldn’t ignore the elephants in the Industrial Revolution Britain room. As London became dirty and polluted and life-expectancy might be just 31, he queried where we were going as a society?

And just as his 1790s peer Wollstonecraft was the rational Yin to Blake’s intuitive and mystic Yang, after I’ve hosted the factual half of the event on the 28th, the second part will see life coach and Embercombe veteran Shaun Higgins hold a space where we can bypass the rational mind to tap into our intuition, sharing our own visions and dreams for a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world.

We are, Shaun thinks, looking for ‘the return home’. And that means Nature. Like Blake, some are able to imagine another Albion beyond the dark Satanic Mills – and it certainly doesn’t feature wall to wall concrete with rising sea water lapping at the base.

Blake saw beyond the temporal. Wollstonecraft was much more practical. Both were dismissed as dreamers in their own different way. But today’s radical thinkers are the idea-birthers of tomorrow’s mainstream, as anyone who’s researched the counterculture can tell you:

We Need the Dreamers, Poets, and Doers”

Embercombe founder Tim ‘Mac’ Macartney

And how long can the era of hanging up your personal values at the workplace door last? Post-Extinction Rebellion, more and more people are voicing their doubts about a system where – as the people behind Hackney’s Growing Communities social enterprise of urban patchwork farms and N16 organic farmer’s market will tell you – our way of life is completely unsustainable.

The cognitive dissonance is building: the topsoil is depleted, the oceans are acidifying and yet this damning UN report wasn’t even reported in most papers (the Guardian proves its absolute necessity as a lone voice prepared to say the commercially  unpalateable).

It’s time for change. Some of that change is already happening in Social Enterprise Borough Hackney. Come and sit around the fire and be part of the conversation. Let’s share our visions of tomorrow. Let’s dream a little. Let’s see “Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.”

If you haven’t attended a 6heads event yet, you get a wonderful mix of folk: everyone from artists to social entrepreneurs or Corporate & Social Responsibility leaders. If nothing else, it provides a safe space where regardless of status we can talk freely and take off the labels and uniforms that sometimes divide us.

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