Slightly s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d week, among other things heading down to Oxford by train on Tuesday evening for a Skoll Foundation dinner at Christ Church College, to celebrate the new round of awardees, ahead of the 2010 Skoll World Forum. Glorious glow as I was warmly greeted by many of the entrepreneurs. Next, joy of joys, found myself seated next to Sally Osberg and Jeff Skoll at the dinner, with Paul Hawken the other side of Sally, as a sequence of extraordinary social entrepreneurs took the stage to headline what they are doing around the world.
On Tuesday, there was also a magic moment as I waited at the seminar centre at Worcester College for a session to begin with the moderators for the Forum – and had about 20 minutes on my own. Very much, as the first person to arrive commented, a zen space and moment.
After various other meetings, including a partial Volans board meeting across the road from the Saïd Business School, I had to scoot back to London, to kick off an SAP conference on sustainability on Thursday. Various people slated to be on the platform weren’t there because of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in Iceland, though technology swung into operation to link in one key speaker. Stayed all day, for an ongoing conversation with companies like BAT, Nestle and Unilever.
Then back to Oxford very early on Friday morning, in time for the first climate session – and then, at 11.00, for the one I was moderating on climate change, societal need and food security – with Mark Fulton, Mark Lynas, Ndidi Nwuneli (a member of the Volans Advisory Board) and Richard Jefferson as my panellists. Capacity audience and the feedback afterwards was extraordinarily positive. For an audio file, click here. Then lunch with Charmian and David Grayson, on an article we are working towards for Harvard Business School, and thence to the Sheldonian Theatre for the closing ceremony.
Highlight for me, at least, was Tim Smit of The Eden Project – and another member of the Volans Advisory Board. He was quite extraordinary, talking about things like “the Swagger of Intent”. You had to see it to know what he meant, but he would have made a great pirate. Another instruction that stuck in my mind was his injunction to, “Kill negative people – they don’t have dreams.” A little extreme, perhaps, but one knows what he means.
After a quick chat with him and a round of goodbyes, Debra Dunn walked me to the station – and I headed back east on the train, under a sky free of condensation trails, and to a home where the skies are quieter than they have been since the days after 9/11. This morning when I went out, the cars in the street were covered in a thin film volcanic ash. Found myself agreeing with an editorial in The Times this morning, about how the eruption underscores both our lack of control over our planetary destiny – and the abject failure of most political leaders to engage issues like climate change.