What inspires me about the Festival

Mark Hutchinson is a Unitarian Minister, serving Malvern and other communities. He has also been involved with the Festival over a series of years, initially as a delegate and more latterly as an organiser and a presenter. In this short blog, Mark describes what it is about the Festival that particularly moves and inspires him.

Mark says:

“I’ve always loved the unique Festival offering. The thing that excites me is the range and diversity of sessions. I always go expecting to be particularly engaged by two or three speakers and then found myself blown away by sessions that I’d never given too much prior thought to; it’s just that type of event, eclectic, thought provoking and challenging.

I’m really excited about the theme of Telling Stories because it goes straight to the heart of the human experience. We all have stories that sit in our minds, often unexpressed. Many of these are unhelpful and scary, some of them can be highly detrimental, reflecting some of our painful perceptions of the state of the world either now or in the immediate future.

The Festival provides a place where we can come together and hear some of the inspiring tales of people who are directly confronting the unsettling and discomforting which can sit, unaddressed in our our heads. There is a degree of escape in this, undoubtedly, and whilst this is no bad thing, it is not the entirety of what The Festival offers. When we come together for a joint experience of this kind, we engage as a group, forging links and seeing how we can hang together and operate together as a source of mutual strength and inspiration.

I love the fact that as well as holding much creative content, The Festival also focuses on the political realities of living in a complex and frequently unjust world. The sessions that I enjoy most tend to be a mixture of both and it is that which I aspire to in the content I deliver.

The Mind Travels Experience takes us on a journey of mental health awareness, engaging with the concept of mindfulness and touching on the difficult subjects of anxiety and the tensions of living in our world. It’s an inner journey in which attendees seek to sit comfortably with their own thoughts whilst doing so in the presence of others doing exactly the same thing… it is the communal nature of this “mind travelling” that gives it its comfort and power.

The session “What happens when the world raises an invoice?” provides an opportunity for us to consider the dramatic changes that we will need to work on together to progress on our challenging journey towards sustained and beneficial change.

In providing a very brief headline of two sessions, I absolutely know that I’m not getting anywhere near describing the great sense of togetherness that The Festival can engender; Melissa Benn, one of our speakers last year described this as “the family feeling of the festival”. In order to experience this, you’ll have to come along and see for yourselves.


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