GoodFest is good for your soul

Written by Vineeta G - October 6, 2023

GoodFest started five years ago as a small festival to inspire creators, founders, and leaders. The two days are filled with tantalising talks and workshops aiming to inspire leaders, creators, founders and communicators in our industry and beyond. 

I’ve attended GoodFest three years running, for the first time in 2021 as a speaker and the last two years as an in-person attendee at the wonderful Bedruthan Steps hotel in Cornwall, where Tom and I had our wedding just over 15 years ago! The location is just perfect for getting a nature fix, be it a swim in the sea or a trek on the trail along the cliffs, or a walk in the forest, you have it all!

Sea side in cornwall

Feeling fresh! Workshops held outside with the sea as a backdrop!

Resetting our energy

This year the festival began with a soul nourishing movement workshop by Mark Shayler, who recalibrated our energy with Qi-gong against the backdrop of the Atlantic ocean. Along with an inspiring and heartfelt speech about honouring our mind, body and spirit, this experience rewired our brains to make the best of the coming two days. Many of us had a long way to travel to get to GoodFest and this really was the best way to start! 

Let the talks begin!

Like every year, the event had a wide range of fantastic speakers. 

The talks began indoors with Gail Muller (who was also the MC), telling her deeply personal story about overcoming chronic pain and going on to become an adventurer, in the face of an establishment that told her that there was no hope. She helped us focus on the power of hope even when things like Climate Change might seem hopeless, and about how important it is to focus on the good things and harness their positive energy when you’re going through difficult challenges. 

Next up we enjoyed a conversation between Hannah Cox from Better Not Stop and Ben Akers from Talk Club, sharing their stories of how they both followed their passions and ended up founding organisations that never intended to. They both reminded us that if you are passionate about something then it’s worth pulling that thread and seeing where it leads. Ben helped us see the benefits of failing fast and cheap, while Hannah showed us how perseverance is the key! Both approaches are valid. 

Getting mentally fit

Ben also introduced us to the term ‘Mental Fitness’. What is Mental fitness? – I hear you ask. 

He explained that there are negative connotations associated with the term Mental Health because it is nearly always used to refer to ill health, whereas his organisation Talk Club exists to promote positive mental health. That’s why he wants to shift this to be a conversation about our mental fitness – a bit like we talk about physical fitness as a positive thing that we aspire to and work to maintain. 

Hannah and Ben talking about communities they build

Hannah and Ben talking about communities they’ve built

We all face challenges and we can often feel that we are struggling alone. By just initiating a conversation with someone and asking how they are, we might save them from spiralling in a negative way. Talking to each other and creating a safe space to share what we are going through is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help each other maintain good mental fitness. 

Inclusive climate communication

After a short coffee break, we had an energetically charged talk by – ✌️John Brown  from Don’t Cry Wolf, who presented a case for improving our climate communications to include those who may be left out of the conversation. John’s talk was educational and highly entertaining. 

He explained how climate communications exclude parts of the working class who want to make a change but don’t know how, and are made to feel shame and guilt for their actions such as flying instead of taking the train – even though they can’t afford to take the train. They feel excluded and politicians are now playing on this failure of climate communication to turn these excluded groups against climate activists. 

Jon explaining about climate comms

A survey of 2000 people was carried out by Dont’ Cry Wolf that covered a cross section of our society here in the UK. The interesting takeaway was that compared to the middle classes, the poorest and the richest are willing to make more personal sacrifices for mitigating climate change, despite the fact that climate activism tends to be dominated by the middle classes. This was a big revelation! We all know that things have to change, and we cannot carry on the way we are now. However, for things to change, we have to change.

Into the forest

After a delicious lunch with great company, the rest of the afternoon was filled with more inspiring speakers. 

Joss from Enviral hosted a live podcast with Merlin Hanbury-Tenison from Cabilla, talking about preserving the amazing temperate rainforests in the UK. In the podcast, Merlin gave us more hope about maintenance and revival of the temperate rainforests at Cabilla in Cornwall. We were reminded how nature and humanity are a part and parcel of the universe, and it’s our responsibility to look after nature around us.

It was a very personal and heartfelt, even spiritual story of Merlin’s own journey to discover the wonders of Britain’s rain forests and the deep importance of our connection to them. You can listen to the podcast here


What better way to end the day than have a dip in the sea

The inner development goals

The next morning I attended Rhian Sherrington’s workshop on how we need to form inner development goals. She explained that the Inner Development Goals were created because the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have failed in delivering a sustainable global society. Her theory is that this is because ‘we’ are the problem and we need to reshape our own inner landscape in order to develop a new future, very much similar to Tom’s recent thinking in his article asking whether spirituality is the missing pillar of sustainability.

The workshop focused on letting go of the stories about ourselves that do not serve us, letting go of the must do’s and can’t do’s, to bring forward a new set of values and beliefs that one should focus on. This workshop was transformational. It has now given me a new perspective on what stories I will be sharing with everyone as my old stories were burned away in the firepit where we left them behind! 

It was truly inspiring to see so many people coming together to be inspired and inspire one another and create a movement! It was totally worth travelling all that way to be a part of the movement of spreading joy and hope during these uncertain times. I feel positive about the future ahead. 

Embracing our heart intelligence

The event was brought to a beautiful close with the ever so gentle but firm, three times Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Scilla Elworthy talking about how we need to be leading with the heart. 

She made a compelling case that our heart wisdom is going to be the most important tool for us to continue humanity in the face of AI transforming our culture. She urged us to demonstrate, recognise and use the intelligence of our heart. She explained how humans have capacity for qualities that can only be felt by our hearts. Love, altruism, integrity, empathy, forgiveness, humility, gratitude, compassion, intuition, courage, self awareness to name a few. AI will undoubtedly surpass us in terms of cognitive capability very soon, and the wisdom of our hearts is what will stand out as uniquely special and valuable about our own intelligence as humans.

A GoodFest!

All in all it was a very inspiring and insightful two days with an amazing group of people and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to attend. Many thanks to the sponsors like Krystal, Dont’ cry Wolf and others who have made this happen and the personal energy from Matt, Laura, Ben and Lucy for putting an amazing line up!