Brockley Festival of Ideas 2017: Attendee Feedback

We asked attendees to submit their feedback about the 2017 Festival of Ideas…


“I thought yesterdays event was fantastically well organised and a very stimulating and thought provoking day. I particularly appreciated how yourself and the organisers had worked very hard indeed to make the day inclusive and relevant to the black community and to younger people. I thought the Battle for Lewisham session was excellent with some very challenging speakers. The break out audio session on Mrs Phoenix’s life hosted by her son was very interesting and timely given her huge involvement in that period of Lewisham’s history and it was a shame that there was not more time for this. It was such an amazing packed programme! I think the variety of topics and speakers were of very high quality and very professionally chaired.

My only suggestion would have been to perhaps moved the Ideas for Action part of the programme to before lunch or possibly just after lunch as I think people would have had more energy earlier in the day and there would have been more people around to look more constructively at what we would like to implement locally. I do think the library of equipment to borrow was a great model and there could be lots of support to get this going in the area.

The catering was excellent and very reasonably priced and the venue worked well , although I do prefer Pendergast My thanks to you and to the organising group for putting on such a great day . Huge congratulations to Brockley Society for having the vision and commitment to running this event.”  HN


“I very much enjoyed the Festival. You had a great range of speakers and very stimulating discussions. It must have been a lot of hard work so thank you.”  AH


“The catering was great as it allowed for those of us who are vegans – many thanks. The venue was excellent allowing for different things to go on. We had to make choices but that is good when it is such a long day with so many speakers. Breaking out For discussion was great as it allowed for deeper questioning ,many more insights, and refreshing participation from all. So well done in making this move. Themes were good and the speakers were mostly good and highly motivated. I did not go to any movies. They are basically not my thing. If possible next year let each speaker have 15 mins and if that means less speakers so be it. Generally time pressure was constantly an issue which need not be so. Many thanks for a fascinating and valuable festival.” CG


“Thank you for arranging the festival.I did enjoy the event, but I was surprised at the one-sidedness / lack of balance on the panel. There definitely felt like there was a significant “anti-corporate” feel, and having worked for such “evil” corporations I was quite surprised and saddened by the overwhelming belief that the fault broadly belonged to such corporations (including government).

At the end of the day, corporates and governments are made of people too, and while their ideas may be counter to those presented at the panel, they are not often rash and unthinking. In fact, the majority of organisations I’ve worked for are in fact slow and incompetent (which IS something to complain about!).

I think I’d also love to see something a bit more solution orientated. Taking Olaf’s presentation for instance – we can’t/won’t just all stop eating meat tomorrow. A lot of people don’t care that much, and a lot of people quite like meat/diary. I like milk on my cereal for instance. So how do we achieve the goal given those constraints? How do you wean the population off meat/diary for instance given all the complex social factors in place?

I’d love to see a bit more balance on the panel next year. Perhaps Monsanto has an employee in the Brockley area…? :)” E


“I found the ideas for change festival very interesting and I hope it can continue in the future.” DB


“I have talked further with my spouse. And we had a realisation: In the world, in parliament, in TV debates, in interviews one of the main tactics employed is to cut people off before they have finished their thought. The interview happens in such a stressed manner the truth (or untruth ) being spoken cannot really come out. There is no need for Brockley to follow the way of the world in this manner. It is not admirable to see speakers who have given their life to a subject being flagged down after 8- 10 minutes. If minds are going to be changed through the festival more time must be granted to the speakers.To my mind Not less than 30 mins. With someone like Ivo Mosely who has written books on the complicated subject of banking, it makes no sense to cut him off so that his thesis cannot really be heard. This applies to many of the ‘groundbreaking’ speakers. It is not the rushed number of ideas that matters but the peace in which they are delivered as well as the manner in which they are argued. Don’t force the speakers to give sound bites!! That is the disease that hinders the ability to think in depth. The revolutionary nature of the festival must not be undercut by rushing and stressing the contributors!


1. halve the no. of contributors.

2. vet your contributors. Choose those whose contribution can make a difference.( You must be brave enough to make choices – no false democracy here!)

  3. 30 mins minimum contribution time.

Ideas are seeds but as the Good Lord said they need to be sown properly on good ground.

I loved the day but for the festival to grow in power you have to cut back on contributions: less is more.” CG


“The festival seemed very well organised – I was impressed with the briefings and information for me as a speaker, meaning I didn’t go into it blindsided!

I also thought there was a fantastically diverse panel of people – for the theme I spoke on at least, didn’t see the others – which was great to see and be a part of. You had some really fantastic speakers, I hope you are all proud of yourself for putting on a great event. AP


“Congratulations on a very successful event and it was a pleasure to be involved. We had some really interesting discussions in the breakout room and, all in all, it was very constructive. Unfortunately, both Will and I had other engagements in the afternoon and so couldn’t return to collect the exhibition at the end of the day, hence taking it with us at lunchtime. Hopefully people got some chance to see it before it went.

Our MA in Black British History is currently going through the various committees at Goldsmiths and it looks like it will launch in 2019, although we’ll be publicising it well in advance of that. Over time, the MA programme with feed down into the BA and if we can get a satellite of the Young Historian’s Project here as well that will really help to push things forward.

Many thanks for the invitation to participate and I’m pleased the event went so well.”  Dr John Price


“Thank you for inviting me. I thought it was a fantastic day. It was so nice to see such a diverse group of people being able to have a robust conversation in a constructive way. Wouldn’t it be good if there were festivals of ideas for change all around the country?” S


“Thank you for putting on an extremely interesting and stimulating event – my sister and I stayed for the whole day and found it very thought-provoking. The venue was a good choice and was easily accessible. For future events, it might be useful to have a session on issues that affect the younger generation such as social media, gender identity (not only restricted to younger generation) or on-line/off- line abuse. I was thinking that perhaps bringing issues such as these in to the forum might attract a younger audience. Anyway, thank you once again for hosting such a great day and it was really good to end the day with such an inspiring group of individuals talking about their organisations and the amazing difference they make.” IR


“Thank you it was very interesting. Another similar meeting would be very welcome.” J


“I really enjoyed the day. The speakers were informative & interesting. Topics were relevant & really captured my attention. The venue was perfect. I was disappointed when I realised I had not enough time to view videos & listen to talks in breakout rooms, apart from one full room I attended but left on hearing the next session in the main hall had begun. I will encourage my adult children to come next year as I was very aware of the majority of older people like myself there. The young generation have so much to gain from an event like this one. Soup & sandwiches were lovely. Perhaps bread rolls could be available with the soup as I heard other people, beside myself, ask also. I had both dishes. All so nice. Thank you for all the time spent organising the day. I look forward to the next.” U


“I thought the Festival of Ideas was very impressive and well-organised” MS


“I thought the day was very interesting, the sessions I attended, and drew on a very catholic constituency. Do you think you can support one every year? I wondered, as I am just reading up about Oliver Cromwell, whether a form of the Putney debates with local emphasis and participation might get some traction.” HM


Links to other pages:

Session 1: Battle of Lewisham: 40 years later

Session 2: Housing, Homelessness and Inequality
Session 3: Debt, Money and Exploitation
Session 4: Food and the Environment
Session 5: From Ideas to Action
Film and Video
Picture Gallery
2017 Festival homepage