The Volans team clambered aboard two of (Sir) Tim Smit’s time machines this week: The Lost Gardens of Heligan beamed us back into a sustainable version of the past, while The Eden Project transported us into a version of a sustainable future.
Along the way, I found myself pondering what the plural of Tardis might be – linking out to the time machine in the long-running Dr Who TV series. Tardises? Tardes? Tardis? Whatever it may be, these extraordinary places helped put us all in a more elastic timeframe, and reminded us how some people can turn the apparently impossible into the possible and then the inevitable.
And, like Tardis, which is unimaginably bigger on the inside than seems physically possible when the converted police callbox is viewed from the outside, both Eden and Heligan serve as portals to much wider worlds of possibility than you would suspect when viewing their mapped areas.
Ever since Louise, our CEO, took over the reins at Volans, we have put more effort into team-building, in all its forms. Or perhaps I should say she has. This week, the team (including Elaine) spent three days in Cornwall, being taken behind the looking glass at two wonderlands created by our friend (Sir) Tim Smit: Eden and Heligan.
In addition to Tim, we were taken behind the scenes by the likes of Rob Chatwin (Eden’s CEO), Alexandra Dixon (Director of Special Projects, and now driving Eden’s Costa Rican expansion), Jo Elworthy (Director of Integration), Blair Parkin (leading the Pollination program that is co-evolving new Eden ventures in the UK and overseas), Charles Sainsbury (the man charged with ensuring that Eden walks the sustainability talk), and Ramón van der Verde (Heligan’s Managing Director).
We’ll see where all this takes us, but the adventure made me feel even keener to find innovative ways to converge our different worlds.
As a Chief Pollinator, I was also delighted to encounter evidence around Heligan of a couple of small ways I had nudged things along – via introducing Tim to Peter Byck, of Carbon Cowboys fame, and to Annabel Ross, who went on to co-create the Voices of the Lost Gardens exhibits, with wheeled shepherds’ huts used to immerse visitors in the life stories of a range of wild and farmed animals.