The circus comes to Engineers Without Borders

Imagineering was the title of the 2011 Engineers Without Borders Conference, rounding off the Year of Humanitarian Engineering with a celebration of innovative engineering aid in developing countries.  There was also space for sharing best practice and reflecting how we can do more.

I opened my presentation with a handstand.    It was spontaneous and yet not without motive – we were in the carbohydrate slump slot forty-five minutes after lunch and shifting the energy was critical if I wanted to keep my audience with me.  So I got them moving, I did a handstand and we knew we were going to do things differently.  This presentation was about seeing problems through new eyes so as to find creative solutions with a more positive social impact.

Continue reading “The circus comes to Engineers Without Borders”

Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation

A Perth version of Clowning for Facilitators will be running on January 12.  For a word that wasn’t in use not so many years ago, facilitator gets bandied around a bit.  In this workshop we use the art of Clown to get you, the facilitator or communicator, connected with the intangible part of your work.  How do you develop your ability to read the energy in the room and convince a bunch of engineers or bankers that drawing a picture of a tree on yet another post-it note really is worth their while?  How do you develop the confidence that you will get your group wherever they need to be – even when things seem to be going completely wrong? Continue reading “Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation”

Engineers v. entrepreneurs: the great impro-off

Every played at improvisation? These are the exercises actors use to be able to create whole performances from scratch on the spot.Improvisation in companies takes those exercises and applies them to building skills which help improve business performance.On the surface, it looks like a facilitator having you running around and playing games to stimulate your creativity and capacity for complete ridiculousness. What it actually does is help you practise bringing more of your great ideas to your company. Continue reading “Engineers v. entrepreneurs: the great impro-off”

Creativity and collaboration in engineering: conference in 2010

Engineers influence almost every part of the physical world, meaning their roles in climate change have huge potential.    This conference in mid 2010 will examine how engineers move from doing to influencing through creativity and collaboration.

If you are interested in being a part of this in any way, please add your comments or email me at rachael.westheafer@yahoo.com

Relationships, chaos theory and the end of the world.

Hands up anyone who has stayed in a relationship that was ‘pretty good’.  A job that ‘wasn’t bad’?  Eaten a chocolate croissant (or two) just because it was there?

And hands up anyone who looked for a big conflict to force themselves to change?  Picked fights so it was easier to leave your partner because they just don’t understand you?  Left a job when your boss suggested for stress leave?  Ate more brown rice after a bikini-shopping experience drove you to mass chocolate brownie consumption?

It’s so much easier to change when it’s all gone to shit, right?  (A self-confessed expert who has left way too many relationships way past their use-by date, only left a career in engineering when chronic fatigue meant I couldn’t get out of bed and am still, at 30, learning that 3 chocolate brownies in one sitting is not good for me.)  Once you leave the job/relationship/bad habits there is space to explore more of what you really want.   To grow. Continue reading “Relationships, chaos theory and the end of the world.”

£20/day – 3 months in and an interesting turn of events

When I embarked on Grand Mission £20/day (see rules in previous posts) three months ago, I’m not sure that I really considered that it would ever be anything more than a learning experience and an opportunity to flaunt the moral position that loads of money isn’t critical to living well and, actually, it’s much better for the environment blah dee blah dee blah.  I certainly didn’t think that I’d be in a position where I had to cut my spending to £10/day because I had no money!

I’m averaging £22/day, which I don’t think is too bad, considering I have had weekends to Oxford, Cambridge and Stratford-upon-Avon and a splendid 12 days travelling between Paris and Toulouse.

Time and space for whimsical reflection in la ville rose.
Time and space for whimsical reflection in la ville rose.

So what has taken me from decadent sun-drenched lounging in the midi-Pyrenees to near-broke in such a short time (apart from some over-priced TGV train journeys and feeding a chocolate brownie addiction)? 

1. A few tough questions about what I really want to do with my life and the decision to pursue them.  

2. The restrictions of a working-holiday visa that only permits me to work in the country for a limited time, and my desire not to squander the time and opportunity on just any income-generating activity.  (Don’t let me start on the irony of the immigration rule that forbids me from starting a business that employs people and create jobs…)

Almost everyone embarking on a new business goes through giddy highs of inspiration against the desperate panic of uncertain cashflow.  I figure you either succumb to fear and give in to a normal job, or you battle through it and come out the other end with a new world view.

I’m most interested to see where I end up!

In the meantime, and as food for thought, some of the interesting experiences of temporary broke-ness:

  • Giving my last (and when I say last, I mean pretty much literally) 45p to someone begging opposite the Ritz. 
  • Realising how much fear I have of running out of money when, really, what is the worst that can happen?
  • Wondering how it feels to blog about running out of money.

I might let these sit with you and I’ll write more about them later.