Green and Away

Green and Away

I would argue too that Green & Away needs a much higher standard of management than a commercial company: if we manage our team badly, they can leave today. This is not a risk badly run companies face, so they take advantage of it.

Leadership

And what about the leadership team? Most organisations seek experienced people as trustees or directors. They want specialists in management, or marketing, or finance, and this usually means people who are older – and often male, and often white. In the jargon: male, pale and stale.

We’ve adopted the practice of recruiting trustees from our interns, who are mostly university students. And we’ve changed our trustee body to now be dominated by people in their twenties. Some observers suggest they don’t have the experience necessary. 

I answer that very few people in their fifties and sixties (the average age of company directors) have the actual real experience to change their organisations to run in balance with the planet. Indeed, their desire to always make their company bigger is the opposite of the experience that is needed. 

But our trustees have the passion and the wisdom necessary, and, being in their twenties, will be personally affected by environmental degradation in a way that a 60-year-old won’t.

In our early years, I made the decision to make or buy all our equipment, rather than rely on hire companies. Owning everything, maintaining it, storing it and dealing with breakdowns undoubtedly adds to our work. 

But it means we can design everything to be as sustainable as possible, to be attractive and comfortable for our participants and, crucially, to increase the enjoyment of handling it for our crew (also not an issue of interest to most companies).

Also, it reduces our running costs. The result is that we are financially sustainable. This doesn’t just mean that we know we can finance every forthcoming season. It also means that our trustee meetings are devoted to discussing how we can make Green & Away better: more sustainable, more charming for participants, and more enjoyable for crew and trustees. 

We spend a tiny amount of our meeting time on the two big issues many (or most) organisations spend most of their time on: cutting costs and increasing profits.

Have we got it right for our participants and crew? Two comments last summer are worth passing on. One is from a former Syrian refugee on our crew (who booked in with us for a fortnight, and stayed much longer). 

He said his time at Green & Away was the best ever weeks of his life. Another comment, from the leader of one of Britain’s foremost national institutions: “You’ve really licked how you run this.”

Green & Away is now looking forward to our next 30 years. We will continue to provide intensive environmental education for our interns and crew, and an outdoor space where people can live closer to the natural world and see the impact our everyday living has on Nature. We don’t aim to get bigger. We hope to see you there.

The Resurgence summer camp will be held at Green & Away this year from 12 to 14 July. www.resurgence.org/summercamp

Peter Lang is a co-founder of Green & Away and is its chair of trustees. www.greenandaway.org

 

This article first appeared in the May/June 2024 edition of Resurgence and Ecologist.

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