Our first round-up of the year, keeping you up to date on general plans for SayYesMore, upcoming events and campaigns, and some stories from the YesTribe.
News from SayYesMore HQ
After an admin-heavy first few weeks of the year our team is making progress towards restructuring SayYesMore’s official structure from Limited Company to Community Interest Company. In reality, the structure won’t much impact how we run - reinvesting any profit into new events and spaces that bring people together - but it feels like a good step to make towards a more transparent organisational structure which we’re refining this year.
After three years of largely successful volunteer led campaigns, the reality is that running SayYesMore day to day comes with too many responsibilities and commitment to expect volunteers to shoulder the work for much longer. This has also led to regular turnover of volunteers over the years, which in turn means more retraining and time asked of the core team.
A one-off grant and ongoing training and advice from the Facebook Community Leadership Programme in 2019 has given us a thrust towards running this year’s events without financial pressure, with the aim of creating a sustainable team structure into the future, run by one or two part-time staff, with much less responsibility on volunteers.
Creating a countryside haven
With our fourth birthday approaching we’re finally feeling like the future is becoming clearer. The growth of SayYesMore has always been organic, built on random, spontaneous ideas that felt like the right thing to do. Whichever way the wind has blown we’ve tended to sail, but now our voluntary and ambassador team has over 80 people, regional and international YesTribes are popping out of the woodwork all over the place, and the online community is growing by around 100 people a week, it’s only natural to consider where this is all going.
What’s for sure, is that (as mentioned above) running SayYesMore isn’t always easy. Simplifying our methods going forwards is a big part of the plan, which will enable the core team to have more fun and not sacrifice their own lives. Of everything we do, the YesBus has become the biggest burden. While it’s a superb outdoors space that offers a really unique slant on learning and recharging in the countryside, the politics, costs and time it takes to keep the YesBus running is becoming unsustainable.
Our dream future involves finding a plot of land for SayYesMore to create a more permanent basecamp (our current running contract with Brinsbury Campus, the current YesBus home, ends in 2020/2021). This would give us a long-term plan to work towards, a basecamp to build and expand, and an opportunity to create a sustainable income from one site that would cover the rest of SayYesMore’s events, campaigns and team building.
Here’s the perfect dream: we find our own land with an existing glamping business (ideally with pods, cabins or huts as opposed to tents) that has enough land for that business to continue, a space for the YesBus to live, and open spaces for campgrounds, firepits, walking routes and an annual Yestival. If you ever see a site for sale that sounds like it fits the bill please do drop us a line! (Where we find the finance for a project like this we do not know, but we’ve managed to do some pretty incredible things on a shoestring so far and like to think that nothing is impossible!).
The YesTribe is a growin’
The main YesTribe Facebook group, where it all began, is approaching 8000 members, and when combining members of all SayYesMore groups and pages, we have a social media audience of well over 15,000. Make sure you join the Tribe!
Wake Up Wild 2019: Treely, treely cool!
Each year we try to harness the power of our growing tribe for good, by holding at least one large-scale event that creates a positive environmental and social impact. Although the Waterbike Collective in 2018 was a resounding success, including hundreds of people across the five month, 1000 mile journey around the UK’s waterways, collecting over 100 tonnes of trash along the way, it was a total bitch to run! Emma Fairey and Dave Cornthwaite were on call 24/7 for five months, ensuring the waterbike kept on moving despite mechanical failures, riders dropping out last minute and other spontaneous challenges.
So this year we’re going back to our roots with an event that we’re calling Wake Up Wild. For one night only, on September 28th, we’ll be hosting multiple group campouts for YesTribers all over the UK.
We’re aiming for an early April launch, with two thousand and nineteen places available for the event. The cost to each camper will be £5, with £1.50 going to SayYesMore to cover expenses, insurance and general admin of the event, and the remaining £3.50 donated to Tree Aid, a tree planting organisation with whom we’re working to create voluntary and educational opportunities, and a UK-based woodland space open for use by the YesTribe.
We've started to confirm a number of camping locations, and if you know of some land that we could host a camp on, or would like to become a YesTribe Campout Leader for Wake Up Wild and other campouts throughout the year, drop a quick line to Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re also really lucky to have been supported by the Facebook marketing and creative departments, who are working with Creative Review to champion an up and coming artist who will help to create a unique advertising campaign for Wake Up Wild. The campaign will be based around the benefits of time in nature to our wellbeing. Earlier this week Dave Cornthwaite spent time with the team at Facebook, developing concepts for the campaign which will launch in a few weeks. Watch this space for more!
Camp Yestival: Going, Going, Gone! (With a Caveat)
In 2015 it took a touch over 6 weeks to sell 125 tickets for the first ever Yestival, so when the clock struck 10am on February 17th we held our breaths. "Ping!" sung the first confirmation email as it dropped into the inbox. Then, "Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping!..."
It took less than two hours for Camp Yestival to sell out this year, and for the first time we can now focus on making the event as good as can be, rather than pushing tickets right up to the final day. Woo hoo!
If your fingers weren't on fire that morning, don't worry. A couple of tickets have been refunded and no doubt a handful more will be looking for a new home, so in May we'll gather them all together for a second sale. We'll keep you posted.
If you’ve visited past Yestivals you may notice that Camp Yestival will be smaller this year, 1/3 the size of the last three years, to be precise. It takes a huge amount of effort to bring together Yestival for our team, who all have real lives and jobs outside of their contribution to SayYesMore. So we decided to have somewhat of a rest this year, and the hope is that with Camp Yestival nestled mostly within the familiar YesBus field - a place where we run events multiple times a month - we’ll be able to create a wonderful event without putting our lives on hold for a few weeks. We can’t wait for this one.
The YesWood: a space for safe wild camping and forest bathing
Part of our long-term plan at SayYesMore is to work with private and corporate partners to buy up little plots of woodland all over the UK as little mental health havens and safe wild camping spots. Thanks to the generosity of a Yestival-goer who wanted to do some good, an offer on the first ever YesWoodland has been accepted and by the end of Spring we'll have our very own 6 3/4 acres (that's about 3 and a half football pitches) of conifer forest west of London.
If anyone else is interested in helping us to buy some more forest, we'd love to hear from you.
Fill that Joypot
Looking after our mental health and a direct connection between exposure to nature and wellbeing has been a regular feature throughout the life of the YesTribe, so a few members of the YesTribe have put our minds together to create a “mental health department” for SayYesMore.
The idea is simple. When we’re low, our stresspot fills up. And in order to combat that, we need to empty the stresspot and fill our joypot.
We’ve started building a page full of handy content, links, contacts and events to offer a helping hand to anyone feeling low, or worse. We plan to launch this in early April, along with the first Joypots Cafe, a low-level regular gathering for people to come together over a steaming mug of tea of coffee to chat safely about how we’re doing, and how we can look after ourselves better. Watch this space.
Ambassadors & Team Summits
In February we enjoyed two weekends with the wider team who keep SayYesMore ticking.
On the first weekend of the month we gathered at the YesBus to train up 25 of our 40 volunteers around the UK. In the next few weeks two of the SayYesMore team will head around the country to meet up with those Tribe Leaders who couldn’t make the Team Summit. The camaraderie has gone on to help break our events record for Jan-Mar, with numbers of get-togethers up by over 50% on 2018.
And for the first time, SayYesMore now enjoys a team of ambassadors, from Paralympians to weekend warriors, microadventurers to Everest Summiteers, we’re so proud to be represented by folks who live by the SayYesMore ethos, they’re out there blazing a trail with their mission-based work, all of which inspires and encourages others to get outside and live courageously.
The YesBus has been open for two weekends in March, with over 50 people visiting for Tribe Days and workshops teaching filmmaking and camping skills. Earlier this week we opened up for two days of plastic pollution workshops, attended by over 100 students and staff from Brinsbury Campus, who own the land that the YesBus rents. Part of our ‘rent’ is to commit 100 man hours towards hosting or helping events for the campus, so we started nibbling into our annual quota with the workshops this week.
This month saw the first ever YesStories in the Netherlands, thanks to Emmelie Van Dongen, who met some of the SYM team during a surfing trip last year and ended up delivering a wonderful improv session at Yestival in October.
Kim Brenan, leader of the YesTribe East Midlands, has rallied her regional tribe and last night they enjoyed their second campout of the year.
YesTribe London have had a break from YesStories in February and March but Andy Bartlett is back in April, and the 17th April is in the diary for the next one.
A YesTribe London social in a Covent Garden pub on Wednesday evening saw around 20 YesTribers pop in for a chat and a beer. Often the seeds of adventures are planted at gatherings like this but rarely do they happen immediately. Following a gentle dare SayYesMore Ambassador Jen George headed straight to Heathrow and ended up in Iceland the next morning! See the stories below for more on this!
Stories from the YesTribe
It pays to dream
SayYesMore Ambassador Darren Edwards was paralysed during a climbing accident a few years ago. His story has inspired so many since then, and just this week his recovery took a few steps forward. We dare you not to cry a little watching this!
A Signature Run
SayYesMore Ambassador Michelle Ellison is nearing the end of a cross Britain run. Along with her friend Johnny, Michelle has run 300 miles in two weeks and has amassed almost 4000 signatures along the way for the Suicide Guarantee.
Did you know that there is no current policy to deal with suicidal patients who walk into hospitals looking for help? Michelle is raising awareness of a petition calling for the UK Government to implement a standardised suicide support procedure in A&Es across the country. Every km Michelle runs represents approximately 10 lives lost to suicide in the UK in 2017 (5821 lives).
Please sign this petition and share it with your networks, and check out this map to see Michelle and Johnny's progress and how the signature count is going. Best of luck to both of them, almost there!
To the pub, and then far far away
SayYesMore Ambassador Jen George came along to a YesTribe social in a London pub last night, and then asked a question that at the very least changed her week. "What adventures could I do tonight? I've got about three hours."
"You could be in Barcelona in three hours."
And with that Jen hugged everyone goodbye and set off. She was too late getting to the airport, but we woke up to a message saying she was about to jump on the first morning flight to....wait for it...Iceland.
Here’s the Facebook page for Jen, who this year has committed to taken on 365 new adventures. Nothing like a little spontaneity!
Opportunity knocks: A Pacific Mission
Now and then we get sent some brilliant job or volunteer opportunities, you can find them here.
The latest was from the team behind Ben Locomte's Pacific Ocean swim, looking for volunteer crew for a three month sailing voyage in support of Ben as he front crawls across the world's biggest ocean. Expect marine life, plastic pollution research and a good tan!
Lost Sleeping Bag Found, Tribe style
When Chris Lee left his sleeping bag on a train it ended up at the other end of the country. Luckily, the YesTribe came to the rescue and Chris was reunited with his lucky bag a few days later! Now that’s what social media is for!
The YesTribe is our main online community home
Our website tells you everything you need to know about SayYesMore
Here are all the events our various Tribes and Groups have in the calendar
We've regional and overseas Tribes all around the world, see if there's one close to you
The Ripple Effect is a place to share ideas and events for those who actively care about the environment
The YesBus is our countryside basecamp in West Sussex, it's very cool
Wake Up Wild is our nationwide campout on September 2018 - signs-ups open next week
The YesList is a group for self development and creative living ideas
And if you’d ever like to get in touch, get involved or ask questions, drop us an email via the Contact Page. Thanks for your support!