The Green Room

I started a leadership academy for young people to help them start movements that will deliver on environmental and societal outcomes. AMA

What is Spirited Futures?

It is a leadership academy specially designed for young people aged between 18 to 25. The “soul” purpose of the academy is to enable young people to connect with their inner wisdom and to realise their unique potential as future leaders, within Nature settings.

Through bespoke retreats, Spirited Futures will take a cohort of diverse young change makers on a transformational journey of self-discovery, to foster a deeper connection to the soul. Individuals will complete the academy with new leadership skills, a better understanding of their purpose and a pathway to creating positive change in the world around them.

We are so happy to have Karen Stenning join us this afternoon to talk about the amazing enterprise she’s founded called ‘Spirited Futures.’

To kick things off, here are a couple of questions:

  • Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and what have you been doing prior to founding Spirited Futures?
  • What made you create this leadership academy?

Hello Legacy Team and everyone
Great to be here. I have been running my own events agency called Absolute Alchemy. My vision and mission there was to put on events that created change both for planet and people

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I got asked in 2020 to join a community called Spirited Business, that was a retreat for business leaders who cared about the environment and the future of all mankind. I was very excited to be asked to be part of this community and I went on my first in-person retreat in May this year.

When I was on the retreat I could see the benefits of this retreat, for a younger generation. I had previously worked for a young person’s charity and could see that the Gen Z group have the passion and drive for making change. So I asked the group at Spirited Business to support me to start Spirited Futures.
We hosted our first 3 day retreat on 18 November and we brought a brilliant team of young people together and they spent time in Nature and taking part in workshops exploring what do we need to do to help the planet and the people on it. It was a groundbreaking retreat and we plan to do more in 2022

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Hi Karen! Can you tell us a bit more about the itinerary and workshops that you did during the retreat. It sounds interesting! Is there any follow up after the academy? i.e. what’s the next step?

Yes sure
We hosted a 3 day retreat in the Yorkshire Dales and we spent lots of time in Nature, doing Nature walks and forest bathing. We did a very intriguing constellation workshop. If you don’t know what constellation work is, it is a technique set up by Bert Hellinger and you bring an issue or question and the group works together to tuning into the energy and group dynamics. It helped us design a programme for the future. We also did some mediations and group discussions using Otto Sharma’s U-Process and the final theory we looked at was the Four Ways of Knowing - Intellect, Body, Emotions and Intuition.

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That’s really great to see how you could do something similar for the younger generation!

How often do you plan on hosting these retreats and how many young people are able to sign up?

In terms of what is next. We are going to be setting up as a CIC and then start delivering some more retreats across the country and helping the younger generation, in collaboration with the older generation, to tap into their inner wisdom and leadership styles.

We will then support them online and our intention is that from there, they will start movements and their own initiatives that make a difference in their communities or to the wider community at large.

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Spirited Futures is for the younger generation - the 18 - 25 year olds (Gen Z). We will be hosting more retreats, hopefully from spring 2022, depending on funding.
We are looking for young people who may be interested to take part in a 3 or 5 day retreat. If you are interested you can sign up on this form - https://forms.gle/U24AyWDivn6J6D4Q6

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Hi Karen,

Do you have plans to do collaborations to work with other youth development organisations, to maybe upscale the number of people that can sign on and also widen the range of retreat destinations?

Also do these retreats help the youth with their career prospects or is it more for self development?

Great question Mike
Yes I am definitely looking for collaborations. I used to work in the sector, so I do know some people/organisations in the sector but I want to widen that reach. I also want to increase my diversity and offer this to those who don’t have the opportunities to go on life-changing retreats like these.
We are looking at doing some retreats next year in Derbyshire and also one in the South. If you have any ideas, please can you email me on karen@absolutealchemy.org.uk

In terms of career prospects, the later stage of the development is to have an internship programme. We are planning on doing retreats and then for the young people to go into a corporate setting with their new leadership skills and take their new ideas and into business. We are working on a framework that will be disruptive to the corporate setting and help businesses to reach their sustainability goals.

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In terms of how you organise these retreats, what do you consider sustainability wise?
How do you ensure that the retreat itself is sustainable?

We have the planet at the heart of everything we do. So we fully consider every aspect of the event to ensure it is sustainable.
We were a fully vegan retreat last week and we will to continue to do that going forward. We asked everyone to consider their travel options and most people travelled by train.
Our venue - Broughton Hall, is a sustainable venue and they work hard at making sure they reach all sustainable goals and have many policies in place.
Going forward we will make sure that our sustainability polices and decisions are key in all aspects of planning and strategy

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That is very good to know and amazing how it’s a fully vegan retreat!
I’m curious to know what sort of meals were planned!

Do you also encourage the youths to not only think of sustainability in their career aspects and their communities, but also in their homes?

My co-director is Jarvis Smith - founder of My Green Pod and he is a vegan advocate. He lead this and I happily agreed to this. Also Broughton Hall, where we held the retreat only has vegan food, so the few meals we had there, the only option was vegan. Everyone loved the food so they were encouraged to think about their own dietary options in the future.
All of the participants were keen climate change activists and think about the planet in all the daily interactions. We did also spend a lot of time talking about mental health and wellbeing.
The climate crisis is having an emotional affect on all young people (and older participants too). We need to be talking about the affects of the crisis on our mental health

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I’m sure that a lot of them talked about their own mental health and wellbeing, especially how the climate crisis is affecting them too!

What sort of activities did you do while on this topic and what advise can you give us in our own mental health and wellbeing? For those who working in this industry.

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Thanks for asking. I think this is a critical conversation and we need to keep the dialogue going. We had 4 facilitators on this retreat, all with different backgrounds but we made the space very safe and we were able to allow the participants to get vulnerable and open up very quickly.
For those in the industry, we need to allow for spaces to have the conversations, which are non- judgemental and be allowed to say how they feel.
We gave them techniques around meditation, guided and also silence space in Nature.
We need to keep asking the planet for our answers. All of us working in the sustainable space are doing this for the planet. We are in service to the planet, so we should ask the planet for the answers.

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Thank you very much for your response!
We do definitely need to give the floor to everyone to talk about this, so that we can openly discuss and aid each other.

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That’s a wrap folks!

Thank you very much @Karenstenning for giving us your time this afternoon to talk about the amazing work you do with Spirited Futures.
We cannot wait to see everything else you have planned in the coming new year and we wish all the best with this!

If anyone else has any other questions or would like to know more information about Spirited Futures, you can reach out to Karen via her email: karen@absolutealchemy.org.uk

If you know any young people who may be interested in joining this amazing leadership academy, share them this link to the form: https://forms.gle/U24AyWDivn6J6D4Q6

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Thank you very much for having me. I have just found out today that we have money for a website. So we will do a website in the coming months. Then we can have something to share with you in the future
Thanks Karla and Legacy for having me here today