Purpose, on purpose: Reflections from Purpose Conference 2023 - Journal | Strategic Design Consultancy | Folk



Purpose, on purpose
Reflections from Purpose Conference 2023

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Spellbinding is what comes to mind, having spent two days at Purpose Conference in Sydney last week. This annual event brings together change-makers (at scale) under the one roof to connect and share ideas. It recharges your spirit through all of your senses and this year, it covered topics that are close to my heart. Here’s some of my reflections:

Founder, Chris Grant from Unyoked opened up with the story of Unyoked. He showed us that human nature needs nature and that by spending time disconnecting in natural environments, we experience benefits to our physical and mental health. I share his passion for embracing the world of biophilia

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Nooky from We Are Warriors shared his story of being shamed as a younger person in regional NSW and through the words of his mum “You are a warrior”, started a social enterprise that’s having a powerful and positive impact on young indigenous lives. This story was a favourite, hearing about the birth of this movement shook me, the collaboration between Ben Miles and Nooky is grounded in deep listening and action.

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Timothy O'Brien of Purpose Made encouraged us to “Get deeply uncomfortable”, facilitating a session on Indigenous-designed finance. I was inspired to hear from the Waluwin Foundation in their mission to shift the balance of power “The Waluwin purpose is to return Aboriginal people back to a productive, sustainable life on Country”. His colleague, Chris Andrew challenged western farming and economic systems “to farm country, finance needs to respect country. Current farming is not doing the right thing by country and by people. We need to design finance with economic, environmental, and social benefits at the forefront”.

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Matt Vitale from Birchal facilitated the discussion of three companies working on planet-saving tech. We heard about the challenges of building and scaling climate solutions from AirSeed Technologies, Kelpy and Samsara Eco.

Having read Sand Talk, I was excited to hear from Tyson Yunkaporta. What I didn’t expect was a mind-bending journey into ancient, modern, and future wisdom delivered using wit and abstraction to confuse and compel like it was a test to remind us about relational context “sometimes a wrong story is a right story in the wrong place”.

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Jess Miller is a proven renegade who gets it done. I urge you to look at her latest work, it’s a new series of parties (people coming together) that showcase failure and opportunity and present urban regenerative design ideas as the new normal. I love her passion for using parties as a mechanism for change.

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Andy Miller (米乐) Miller, CEO at Heaps Normal, embraces the transformative power of play at work and uses humour to communicate ideas that maybe aren’t so normal. He infused keepy uppy play into his presentation which was child play at its finest.

Digby Hall lives “in the climate data that doesn’t show up on the mainstream or the social media, it’s the crushing stuff”. He raised some provocations for Hope that sits in between climate Mitigation (the things we should have been doing) and climate Adaptation (the things we now need to do because we haven’t been working hard enough). There’s a new language that’s had to emerge with adaptation and Digby is at the forefront of it - it’s just a shame we are where we are.

And lastly, it was great to see good friends of Folk, the team from AdaptNSW on show, sharing the amazing work they’re doing to raise awareness of climate change using real data and evidence to help businesses and citizens change behaviours and better prepare.

I look forward to next year's “party” of change-making ideas and conversation.

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Written by:
Tim Castle,
Partnerships Director