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Radical dreaming, nourished by trust: South Africa Regional Gathering 2023

At the beautiful Bertha Retreat at the Boschendal farm and vineyard, Be The Earth came together for our first South African Regional Gathering. We celebrated the people in our local network and the incredible work they do; we reflected on the year together and strengthened our connections; we brought our whole selves to a place of great natural beauty and there moved into closer alignment with our shared missions and visions.

Between 22nd - 24th November 2023, we gathered together our Fellows based in South Africa, as well as friends, community, and valued connections from within Be The Earth and our regional network.  This diverse group brought a broad range of expertise and wisdom which included academic knowledge, the natural world, food systems, female empowerment; and healing practices. 

We all came together and strengthened our bonds amidst a unique landscape of smokey blue mountains, free roaming Black Angus cattle, and nourishing fruit and vegetables grown using regenerative techniques.

Bringing our full selves, in communion with nature

Spending quality time in nature with people dear to us is one core way that Be The Earth lives our values. Although the Gathering offers opportunities for feedback and reflection on this year’s cycle, leading on to brainstorming and radical dreaming for the next cycle,  the breathing space and free time between sessions is just as significant as the scheduled activities. Core to our work towards regeneration is creating space to hold the whole human, building solid relationships where our professional personas intertwine with our full selves as human beings. We took wild swims in the mornings, walked nature trails together, and danced around the fire by night.

Walking together through these lands

The journeys we go on “can be a mindful exercise rather than the only way to get from A to B” says Renata Minerbo, our Programmes Lead and facilitator of the Gathering. “It was really interesting to connect with different perspectives of people that have been walking these lands forever and their ancestors as well”. 

Another highlight was our “speed dating" session, held under bright blue skies, bringing together people holding different forms of wealth and exploring pathways of collaboration. It was a very special experience to see people offering their knowledge, their resources and their own wealth to each other after getting to know everyone’s particular projects and individual needs. Such connections strengthen Be The Earth’s community and help us to enhance individual, collective, and planetary wellbeing.

Nourished by trust, open to vulnerability

Trust was at the heart of this event, and indeed in all the work we do together. The outdoor expressive dance session was “really, really powerful, really special,” says Renata, “Some of us released, and connected with people we love that are no longer alive”. 

It was the bonds built between individuals, founded on deep trust, that allowed deep vulnerability to be safely held in this space. “It doesn't matter what kind of wealth people have” Renata says, “Everyone really feels nourished by being trusted”. 

The Gathering closed with a Cacao Sharing Circle, where everyone brought a meaningful object that represented what they wanted to share as we closed and checked out of this space. We sat together in a circle and sipped our mugs of hot, spiced cacao, safe under the watchful gaze of the ancient blue mountains.


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