Like Minds. One amazing day.

Blogging, Business, Devon, Entrepreneur, Like Minds, Micro Blogging, New Media, Social Media, Twitter, WebTV

It’s an incredible feeling when you witness the birth of something. There is a palpable, almost magical force in the air. There is an underlying knowledge that what you have just experienced will only increase in value to you over time.

At a time when most, if not all of us, are facing challenges in their life and work it was an incredible feeling to watch a room fill with complete strangers who had a thirst for knowledge and the belief and faith to come and be an active part of something new and exciting. They really created what became a very special day.

What amazed me about the Like Minds event in Exeter on Friday wasn’t so much the great content from the speakers and the seamless event hosting and management from Scott Gould and the Exeter Conference Centre but the people who came to share it all with us.

Trey Pennington, one of our keynote speakers, mentioned the words ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ to me over breakfast the next day in Exeter city centre. He was spot on. Both Trey and Olivier Blanchard took a huge leap of faith to get on a plane and fly over from Greenville, South Carolina to be with us and prepare such incisive presentations.

Daren Forsyth and Maz Madjm, despite only knowing me from various London Tweetups, had the trust and faith to take the time out of their schedules and home lives, prepare presentations and travel down to help create such a valuable and magical day. Thanks also must go to all our panelists; Vanessa Warwick, Rick Waghorn, Matt Waring, James Barasic, Carl Haggerty, Laura Whithead, and Andrew Davies who provided such a stimulating discussion after each keynote. If you couldn’t make it down, do take the time to watch them all here.

Also take a moment to check out the feedback at the hashtag #LikeMinds on Twitter as well. The outpouring of love (and man love!) has been inspiring. It was also a great moment to see Stephen Fry say hello on the Twitterfall behind the stage – thank you Stephen! You can read my blog on his London Applestore event here.

Our sponsors, both local and national, also had the faith and trust to buy into our vision, at a point when even WE didn’t know exactly what the day was going to bring! For that we are deeply grateful because without that financial support the idea could have just as easily dissolved. I hope they all feel that they too have got a return on their investment and we look forward to inviting them back to our next event in February.

So it’s seems to me that the fundamentals of social media are about faith and trust. We increasingly ‘meet’ people through social networks, blogs and online communities long before we get to know them in real life and we have to take a leap of faith and trust that they are, who and what they say they are.

Scott Gould and I connected on Twitter around six months before we actually met. In the ensuing two months or so we discussed the idea of creating a brand and holding an inaugural event in Exeter that aimed to bring the level of quality you would expect for an event in a capital city like London but brought to more local communities. I spend my working week between the two cities and can see the parallels and the disparities and feel very passionately that Exeter needs stronger creative ties with other cities like London. I hope that Like Minds, through the use of social media, can start to beak the barriers down even further and bring us all closer together.

Exeter has an enormous amount of talent to offer, evidenced by many of the local participants at Like Minds. I hope that what Scott and I have created, with you and for you, helps you all in your chosen profession and life path.

After all YOU made it happen. To quote Scott on the day; we’re nobody. 😉

PS: Check out what Christina Warren at Mashable had to say about Olivier Banchard, one of our keynote speakers here.

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Visit to Heather Jansch’s Studio

Art, Contemporary Art, Design, Devon, Sculpture

It was a misty start to the August Bank Holiday Sunday but we were determined to get out into the countryside and do something. The weather can be very changeable in Devon! The scultptress Heather Jansch happened to have her studio and grounds open under the National Gardens Scheme that day. She was an artist I’d been aware of for a few years so we took off as it was only down the road from us in Olchard to discover more.

What we experienced was an amazing, creative and stimulating visit. From the gate we walked down a long tree lined drive with a wide grass verge on the left had side mown into a continuous snaking pattern for its whole length. The house had a display studio on the side of it with a stunning view through some floor to ceiling doors into the wooded valley below. Outside there was a separate studio / workshop opposite where some more of her work was on display.

If you haven’t seen it before take a look here. The reclaimed wood that Heather works in was dotted around the entire site leaning up against the workshop walls, stacked in a lean to – all open to the elements to help it bleach and take on the weathered patina that is such a strong feature in her work.

Aside from the horses, stags, piglets (!) and other sculptures in the garden she’d created the most amazing arches, linking hand built wooden walls of stacked logs to the wild hedges. Worn, weathered, twisted branches retrived from local rivers and the sea were bound in with hazel and oak from the garden arching over each other to form very natural looking fluid shapes.

As we wandered down the hill into the valley we came across little sitting areas created by a circle of mulched leaves and wood chippings with old wooden benches and seats set onto them, found from the local re-claimation centre. We sat here for a while as each seat had it’s own particular view across the valley through the branches and watched the mist come down through the trees.

After the circular walk through this magical landscape, which took us past the stream in the bottom of the valley and back up through more woods sprinkled with smaller sculptures (including a bear), we sat in the gazebo with a hot mug of tea watching the windfalls from the apple trees and the fish darting around the pond below us.

A glorious and unexpected gem. So much so we’re going back again for the open studio this weekend with our youngest before she starts her A level art on Thursday. If you’re in the area it’s open from 10am – 5pm from September 5th – 20th 2009.