Friday 14 April – Sunday 16 April 2023, Bore Place, Edenbridge, Kent.
Led by Max Hope and Sophie Christophy
“Stories have the power to create social change and inspire community.”
Terry Tempest Williams (writer, educator, conservationist, and activist)
Grab a book. Curl up by the fire. Lose yourself in a story.
Oh no, hang on, wrong retreat.
This retreat is about writing and telling stories, but not just any stories. We are interested in stories by activists and changemakers, about their lives. Stories which fuel activism and help the reader to step into the kind of world that we are trying to manifest through our work. Stories which create clear visions, stories which inspire action. Stories which enable us to live, right now, in the world that we want to see. Stories which have the capacity to change the world, word by word, sentence by sentence. Small changes, big changes, something.
We have booked Bore Place, an amazing venue in Kent, which offers us beautiful indoor and outdoor space. Our intention is to create a supportive and encouraging environment for everyone to dive into stories: inspiring stories from public figures who are activists and changemakers; our own personal stories and anecdotes; and a form that we are describing as ‘activist fiction.’ The structure of the weekend moves us from writing and sharing our own short autobiographical stories from real life, to the creation of fictional tales of imagined realities where we can vividly depict the world that we are trying to manifest through our activism.
We are inspired by the spirit of clandestine movements of activists, artists, pirates, writers, and storytellers who collaborate and co-conspire to positively disrupt and disturb the status quo. Late nights, smoky rooms, hard drinking, food on the run. That sort of thing. Well, with the option to switch hard liquor for herbal tea if preferred. We have structured our plans so that during this retreat, we can work together – hopefully in a lively and energising way – to co-create a new collection of short stories. Stories from our lives, and those which describe the world we want to live in. Stories which inspire. Stories can be real, imagined, funny, poignant, powerful. Let’s see. The stories will unfold, literally, as we work our way through the weekend.
Want to come and find out what happens next? Join us.
What is the Soul Fire Writing Retreat?
The Soul Fire Writing Retreat is a space for changemakers and activists to get together and reflect, imagine, and co-create. Retreats are organised and facilitated by Max Hope and Sophie Christophy. Soul Fire Retreats each have a theme which guides the content of the weekend (this one is about using stories for activism) but there are common threads which run through all the retreats. There are writing sessions which include an invitational writing provocation. We cook and eat together. We have fires and sharing circles. We offer interconnected strands of activity, woven together: one carving out a space for individual and collective creativity and writing, and one for our embodied healing and self-liberation work. The combination is intended to bring us to our soul’s fire and most authentic expression. We always offer the opportunity to co-create a piece of writing that we can publish at the end of the weekend, something which speaks of our time together. Previous challenges have included a chain letter (March 2022) and an anthology of writing (September 2022).
How will the retreat be facilitated?
During the weekend, we are offering a plan and structure, a programme of opportunities designed and led by Max and Sophie. We will support you to navigate that plan in a consent-based self-directed way. You choose what you want to take part in and how you want to participate. We hope to support you to stay centred in yourself, to explore and be authentic in your choices, so that we can have a shared experience and your weekend can be what you need it to be.
For example, if you want to come, to be in community and to just get on with your own writing, that works. If you want to come to be together, but find you need to chill the whole weekend, that works too. Or come and take part in something or everything that is on offer. We need you at the circle meetings and to pitch in with cooking/clearing, but the rest is all up to you.
Plan for the weekend
Dates and times: Fri 14 April at 4pm – Sun 16 April 2023 at 4pm
Venue: The Old Stable, Bore Place, Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7AR
There will be a writing warm up, dinner together, and a soft circle around a fire for introductions and stories.
Breakfast, morning circle meeting, session on public figures who use personal stories as activism, discussion on the power of story, visualisation activity, structured writing provocation (personal stories), lunch, more writing, storytelling circle, offerings from group, dinner, stories around the fire (with hot chocolate), late night ‘kitchen table hothouse’ (with hard liquor and/or herbal tea).
Breakfast, morning circle meeting, imagination activities, visualisation activity, structured writing provocation (activist fiction), last lunch together, refining stories for collection, storytelling circle, closing circle meeting. Depart at 4pm.
Price based on shared rooms (either two or three people per room): £180 (9 spaces available)
Price based on a single room: £295 (7 spaces available)
If you do not have the financial freedom to manage the cost, but feel the burn to come, please get in touch because we are committed to supporting some attendees on a ‘pay what you can’ basis.
What is included?
Food will be provided (plant-based, and gluten free options) and taking a share in cooking and washing up will be part of the ethos of the retreat. Accommodation, including sheets and towels, is provided, but please bring your own toiletries. All sessions, activities and workshops are included.
Booking a place
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a Registration Form and payment details. Please tell us which type of place you wish to book (shared or single) as they will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
About Max Hope and Sophie Christophy:
Max (she/her) is a facilitator, educator, researcher, activist, and writer. Max’s own identity as an activist and changemaker is rooted in her commitment to social and environmental justice. She has spent many years as a grassroots activist, primarily focusing on challenging queer and gender-based inequalities and providing innovative alternative spaces for marginalized young people and adults. She is angry about poverty, about sexual violence, about the abuse of power, about patriarchy, and about the state of the wild world. She is a firm believer in the power of the collective and strives to find ways of joining forces with other activists to push for simultaneous changes across multiple fronts. Max is a keen writer and has authored or co-authored two books, twenty academic articles and book chapters, as well as pamphlets, booklets, and blog posts. She has also run writing retreats and supported dozens of students in their writing of essays, dissertations, and PhD theses. She is the creator of Write On Changemakers. She is also Director of Rewilding Education, Co-Lead of The Lodge, and Co-Facilitator of Call of The Wild. For more info on Max, including a full list of publications, go to https://maxhope.co.uk/
Sophie (she/her) is the co-founder of consent-based, self-directed learning communities, the Cabin and the Lodge. She’s a feminist, children’s rights and education activist, with a focus on post-patriarchal, consent-based models for personal, family, community and other organisational and interpersonal systems, relationships and dynamics. Phew! Over the last ten years she has supported and worked with many people committed to social and environmental justice change-making. Through her Consent-Based Education course, she has worked closely with people on deschooling paths, unpacking and addressing the blocks that get in the way, and working towards establishing and strengthening connection to self and consent-based learning and life. As an activist, her work happens through speaking, collaboration, facilitation, writing, life long learning, and spiritual energy and body work designed to help unblock and unlock our most authentic expression of and connection to self. She has written for newspaper and magazines, for her own blog and social media spaces, as well as website copy, pitches, policy documents and recommendations. She believes that the personal is political, that our hearts, bodies, lives and choices are all spaces for radical activism and transformation, with the most influential change happening first in the relationship that we have with our selves, and then in the relationships with those closest to us. For more info on Sophie, go to https://sophiechristophy.com/
““Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.””
Alice Walker (storyteller, novelist and social activist)