This past weekend many of our team had the pleasure of attending the wonderful Resurgence and Ecologist Festival of Wellbeing, an event which we are proud to have officially sponsored. We found this event really inspiring, and connected with many people at the Festival who are enthusiastic about promoting wellbeing.
The passion many people have for wellbeing is something we are trying to support through our Wellbeing Ambassadors project. Being a Wellbeing Ambassador involves finding ways to make a positive difference to the quality of life experienced in your own community and beyond, with active support from the wider NOW network. You can find out more in the below interview between our International Community Coordinator, Florence Scialom, and one of our first Wellbeing Ambassadors, Anna Schmidt.
Whether you attended the Festival of Wellbeing or are just generally enthusiastic about wellbeing feel free to check out further information on Wellbeing Ambassadors project, and please get in touch if you would like to get involved.
Meanwhile we would like to say thank you so much to Resurgence and the Ecologist for allowing us to be a part of the Festival of Wellbeing. Watch out here on our blog for further news and interviews from the Festival!
Interview with Anna Schmidt, Wellbeing Ambassador
Florence: First of all, could you say a little bit about what wellbeing means to you and why you think it is important?
Anna: For me, wellbeing means to be at balance emotionally, physically and spiritually. To be grounded and to be able to see and experience the positive things, which make life worth living. I also very much agree with the five ways to wellbeing as defined by the New Economics Foundation: Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Take Notice, Give. They can serve as a helpful tool to remind me of activities and situations which may contribute to or distract from wellbeing.
However, I also think that wellbeing is about more than just human wellbeing. Wellbeing of plants, animals and ultimately our ecosystem is closely interlinked with how we are going to survive as human species. I would also argue that if we are truly connected and embrace the concept of wellbeing, we will be inclined to care more about our fellow humans, other animals and species, and the environment. I guess this already explains why I think that wellbeing is important: ultimately, I see it as key for the survival of our own species and many others that are threatened by the unconscious behaviour of humans. I see it as a way forward to enable all inhabitants of this planet to live a life in dignity and peace. This might all sound a bit idealistic, but it’s the way I see it
Florence: Thank you for that in-depth explanation of what wellbeing means to you and why it is important to you. So, how did you hear about the Network of Wellbeing’s work, and what made you decide to become a Wellbeing Ambassador?
Anna: I first heard about the Network of Wellbeing through my tutor at University. Under her supervision, I wrote my dissertation about the Permaculture network, and different ways of relating to knowledge and organising knowledge exchange within it. My tutor suggested that I might find NOW’s work interesting and relevant. I started researching NOW a few months later, and I got in touch to see whether there were any opportunities to help out. That was when I learned about the possibility of becoming a Wellbeing Ambassador.
Florence: How have you found the experience of being a Wellbeing Ambassador so far? What have you most enjoyed about it?
Anna: I have really enjoyed my experience as Wellbeing Ambassador so far! I like the fact that there is a lot of support given, and we are encouraged to take our ideas forward. It was also great to Skype with the other Wellbeing Ambassadors, and to find out about the many different ways in which others are connected to wellbeing. It really widened my horizon to read other Ambassador’s blog posts, and I think there is a lot to learn from exchanging ideas and staying in touch.
Florence: Do you think that being a Wellbeing Ambassador has helped improve your own wellbeing?
Anna: Well, yes, the role has really enabled me learn a lot and connect with new people, and it has given me the opportunity to contribute something meaningful. It has also allowed me to reflect more on what wellbeing means to me, and what role it plays in my own life.
Also, the Ambassador role also helped me in more practical ways. I recently got a position as Strategic Communications Coordinator at the Permaculture Association, which was a really big step and great achievement for me. After I finished University I was really stressed about finding a job, and writing application after application without getting any response can make it really hard to stay motivated. Being a Wellbeing Ambassador not only helped me through this - by providing a rewarding and positive activity - but also through provided valuable experience in writing articles, practising my video skills, and more. Without the practical experience gained as Wellbeing Ambassador, I think my chances of being accepted for the position with the Permaculture Association would have been much lower.
Florence: It is great that you plan to continue being a Wellbeing Ambassador alongside your new role with the Permaculture Association. Could you share what you are most excited about taking forward in both roles?
Anna: I think being active in both roles comes with a lot of opportunities. After having thought about it for some time, I think that the Permaculture Association and the Network of Wellbeing could really benefit from cooperating with each other in a number of ways because the aims of both organisations interlink in many interesting ways.
Permaculture is about designing spaces, which cater for the physical and emotional needs of society, whilst living in harmony with other species and the environment. So the Network of Wellbeing and the Permaculture Association have a lot of shared objectives and interests, and can learn from each other.
The Wellbeing Ambassador scheme has furthermore inspired me to start a programme similar to this one as part of my new role: A Permaculture Ambassador scheme! Just as with wellbeing, it would be a great way to help people passionate about permaculture to share their experiences and inspiring permaculture stories, and to communicate permaculture’s concept for sustainable design of human and natural habitats to the wider world. It would probably be really interesting to have a Skype call or even a mini- conference with Wellbeing Ambassadors and Permaculture Ambassadors, during which we could explore common interests and different perspectives.
So as you can see, I already have a few ideas, and I am sure that more opportunities will arise. I look forward to having the chance to take forward common interests and opportunities!
Florence: And finally, would you recommend becoming a Wellbeing Ambassador to others?
Anna: It’s probably not too hard to guess my answer: I would definitely recommend becoming a Wellbeing Ambassador! It’s a great way of getting in touch with different people with interesting views on – and knowledge about – wellbeing. It gives you the chance to reflect on wellbeing, and the role it plays in your personal life, and beyond. And of course, it’s a great way of practising all sorts of skills, such as writing skills, video skills, presentation skills. Putting these skills into practice as a Wellbeing Ambassador has helped me to gain confidence with many different activities. Last but not least, the support given in the role is excellent, and really motivates you to stay active and engage with the wide range of possible ways of being a Wellbeing Ambassador.
Florence: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions, Anna, and thanks so much for all of the amazing support you provide for our work here at the Network of Wellbeing!