Loving more than the solutions

07/06/2019

Ben Callison is Managing Director of Borneo Orangutan Survival UK (BOS-UK), which works to protect the critically endangered orangutan and its habitat in Indonesia. Prior to this Ben served as President of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust in the US, permanently protecting wild lands. He has also been director of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a 1,500-acre animal sanctuary with close to 1,000 animals and over 40 species. Long active in the environmental community and in civic circles, he is driven to solving the root causes of ecological unsustainability, both in our natural and built environments. He practised architecture for 13 years, co-founding and serving as president of his own firm, which had an emphasis on sustainable design practices.

 

CDLS Ben Callison

 

I was encouraged to attend the 2018 Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS), part of the Caux Forum, by a long-time friend and fellow conservationist. I was highly sceptical, having attended many conferences before. I found it hard to believe this won’t be a different version of the same thing.

The CDLS not only disproved my negative assumptions, but surpassed any experience I had ever had at a conference before. Everything about the Caux Dialogue sets it apart from the routine cycle of networking events. The setting alone is enough to differentiate it.

Once through the doors of the Caux Palace, I found that it serves as a community of thought – one that you feel connected to almost instantly. The next few days were filled with in-depth group and individual conversations that I could never have imagined having with people I had only just met. The speakers came from all areas and socio-economic backgrounds. The Caux Dialogue is one of the only places in the world where you can hear the head of a department at Oxford University speak right next to a Syrian woman, who is creating peace circles to help others cope with the tyranny of war. I found this equality of message humbling.

Greater knowledge was only a small part of what I gained. I feel far better for connecting to a network of people all around the world that I would never have expected to meet. It is easy to live and work in isolation, without even knowing it. The Caux Dialogue helped me identify and remedy that.

 

CDLS Ben Callison

 

In the year since, I have found the personal connections to be most valuable. I expected to expand my network, but what I didn’t expect was that those same people would become such good friends. The Caux Forum creates a unique and collaborative environment that allows for connections to be made in ways that nowhere else can.

What I learned from the Caux Forum has helped to reshape my approach to problem solving. I have learned to start ‘loving the problems’ or at least looking at them in the round, rather than being exclusively in love with our solutions. In strategy sessions in the past we focused more on how to expand our current solutions, which I now see hindered innovation.

An example is our deforestation prevention work. Historically this excluded community development since it was these communities that were one of the main sources of illegal logging. We focused on preventing illegal activity, rather than including the community. After re-evaluating the problem we now work to develop and support surrounding communities towards sustainable industries. This approach provides the villages with a steady income that doesn’t destroy the forest.

Featured Story
Off

related stories

Meghalaya CDLS 2019 Conrad Sangma

Meghalaya’s lighthouses of sustainable development

‘Our goal in Meghalaya is to build a low-carbon economy through complete involvement and ownership of communities,’ Conrad Sangma, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, told the opening session of the Caux...

Aibanshngain Swer CDLS 2019

Protecting Meghalaya’s water sources

Some billion people rely on water sourced in the hills of Meghalaya, in North East India. One of those responsible for water conservation in the State, Aibanshngain Swer, took part in the Summer Acade...

CDLS 2019 Tom Duncan

Empowering communities to restore mangroves

Tom Duncan is passionate about problem solving and strategic systems thinking, primarily in regenerative economics, green finance and financial technology, as a means of restoring relationships betwee...

CDLS 2019 Chau Duncan

Bridging the financial divides

Chau Tang Duncan is applying over 20 years’ experience in banking, trade and commercial diplomacy to improving the financial access of disadvantaged communities. ...

Nhat Vhuong

Plucking water from the air

Webmarketing consultant and social entrepreneur Nhat Vhuong is passionate about tackling water scarcity. A Vietnamese refugee, who grew up in Switzerland, he worked in Japan for eight years before ret...

Hartmut Behrend Mali

Combatting climate change in Mali

Taking part in the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS) 2014 encouraged  German climatologist Hartmut Behrend to move out of the bubble of well-intentioned international activism to work on the g...

CDLS 2019 Alan Laubsch

Restoring nature’s superheroes

Alan Laubsch is passionate about restoring nature’s ‘climate superheros’ – the mangrove forests. He believes that democratizing natural capital investment is key to this. He has over 20 years’ experie...

CDLS 2019 panel Laubsch Duncan Brown

Investing in the future of life on Earth

‘What would it feel like to be the last White Rhino?’ Alan Laubsch, founder of EarthPulse, asked participants in the third day of the Caux Dialogue for Land and Security 2019 (CDLS). ‘Your family has ...

YAP 2019 congratulations

Fresh air for Young Ambassadors

This year’s Young Ambassadors Programme (YAP) brought 39 young people from across Europe to Caux for four intensive days of training in how to work for change in their communities. They then took part...

Summer Academy 2019

Summer Academy on Land, Security and Climate is launched in Geneva and Caux

The inaugural Summer Academy brought together 18 participants from Afghanistan/Denmark, Bhutan, Germany, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Nigeria/UK, Philippines, Portugal, Somalia/UK, Spain/Switzerland, Swed...

CPLP 2019 group garden

Young people unleash their potential

The Caux Peace and Leadership Programme (CPLP) is way more than just a four-week training programme. It is a platform where young leaders from all over the world explore personal and global change. It...

Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish Dialogue 2019

It takes more courage to love than to hate

The Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish Dialogue 2019 took place during the Tools for Changemakers conference, bringing together people of Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish backgrounds to explore sensitive issues th...

Caux Palace

Going down the mountain

When people say that Caux is a life-changing experience, it is not just a cliché. For some, this is their first time out of their countries. For many, it is an opportunity to work with their traumas a...

Brian Iselin

Brian Iselin’s fight against modern slavery

The sun is slowly setting but the air is still warm as ten people form a circle to listen to Brian Iselin’s captivating story told during the human library as part of the Ethical Leadership in Busines...

Week of International Community

Week of International Community 2019

Thirty people, aged from five weeks to 78 years old, from 10 countries gathered for the Week of International Community (WIC) from 19 to 26 June, to prepare the Caux Conference and Seminar Centre for ...