For some of us, 2018 marked a turning point. We could no longer ignore the effects of race, power and privilege in the workplace. Fifty years after the Race Relations Act, systemic racism is alive and well. We’re still trying to eliminate workplace racial inequality by rooting out individual prejudice—through “unconscious bias” training or “diversity and inclusion” programmes—while ignoring the power structures which sustain racism. At the same time, racism seems to be flaring up everywhere, from Brexit to fake news to the refugee crisis. And connected oppressions—directed at gender, sexuality, class and more—are more visible, as the #MeToo movement spreads from Hollywood to our parliaments and boardrooms.
But however much we might oppose these systems of oppression, those of us who’ve been given the privilege of ignoring them are also complicit in keeping them going. That’s why it’s so hard for us to talk about racism without getting defensive, a phenomenon that author Robin DiAngelo calls “white fragility”.
If you agree that it’s time to face up to race, power and privilege, we invite you to join us in West Wales this March at the #dareconf leadership retreat.
There’s space for 25 people. We invite anyone who wants to explore how systems of oppression prevent us from creating the change we seek. That includes:
Everyone participating in this retreat intends to play their part in dismantling systems of oppression. And yet, if intention was enough, it would already be done. The truth is that we don’t have space to think through these issues—let alone to make courageous choices—in our day-to-day lives. The retreat provides distance from the everyday, support to examine uncomfortable truths and the invitation to connect with each other and the natural world.
Guided by an experienced facilitator, together we’ll:
Set on a remote cliff top with spectacular views and glorious sunsets, YHA Pwll Deri Hostel is the ideal place to get off the grid, take stock and reconnect with nature. Six miles from the town of Fishguard, Pwll Deri is on the coast path within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It’s been a Youth Hostel since the fifties and was recently renovated, earning a 4 star rating from Visit Wales.
With no TV, no WiFi and patchy phone signal, set your “out of office” on Monday morning and leave your laptop at home. (You’ll be back at your desk on Friday to respond to all those emails.)
Accommodation is in comfortable dormitories, some with a sea view. You’ll share a room with people of the same gender. (There are also a few smaller rooms for those attending with a friend or 3.) All rooms have en-suite bathrooms and bedding is included. Bring a towel.
The retreat will be alcohol free to support an atmosphere of inclusion and shared responsibility.
The hostel does not have step-free access. If you have access needs, please contact us to discuss.
We’ll eat family-style in the dining room looking out over the sea. The #dareconf crew will cook all of our food fresh in the hostel’s kitchen using local produce. (We can cater for all dietary requirements, just let us know.)
As well as eating together, you’ll also join in with the cooking. Nothing taxing: scrubbing potatoes or washing up plates doesn’t take long when a group does it together.
The coast path is literally on the doorstep, and we’ll make the most of it. Each day will include a walk with the chance to see wildlife like seals, dolphins and birds of prey. The routes will suit people with a range of walking experience, including beginners. We’ll send you a kit list ahead of time.
In recognition of the differences in people’s access to financial resources we’ve designed a tiered cost stucture based on gross annual salary (or equivalent income.) To help us to organise the retreat in a way that meets everyone’s needs, irrespective of circumstances, we ask you to select the option that reflects your financial situation:
|Gross annual salary (or equivalent income)||Cost of retreat|
|£40k or higher||£350|
These costs include:
Costs include VAT. You can pay online via credit or debit card. We don’t allow cancellations or transfers, so make sure you can come before you book. If you have questions, concerns or feedback about costs, get in touch.
Bookings close on Monday 4 February. After you book we’ll be in touch to get some additional details.
To use the resources available to us most efficiently—and to reduce our impact on the planet—the cost of the retreat includes a contribution to a travel fund. We aim to pay for most people’s travel using this fund, through a combination of train travel from major cities in England and Wales and car sharing.
If you can get to London Paddington, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street, Bristol Parkway or Cardiff Central stations by about noon on Monday, we’ll provide return tickets to Fishguard and Goodwick station and transfer by taxi to Pwll Deri. You’ll be back on Thursday around 6pm. (Timings vary by city.) We may be able to cover trains from other places too—contact us to discuss.
Alternatively, if you’re willing to participate in a car-share, either with your own car or as a passenger, you can claim fuel expenses from the fund. (We define a car-share as a car carrying more then one person to and from the retreat.)
We will co-ordinate the details after you book. Feel free to contact us in the meantime if you have questions, concerns or feedback.
Organiser Jonathan Kahn writes:
“I started #dareconf in 2013 as a ‘people skills’ conference for technologists. At the time I’d never heard of systemic oppression or white privilege. Although the presentations hinted at broader issues like sexism and depression, we didn’t address the root cause: systems of power.
For me that conference was the start of a learning journey that involved working with hundreds of professionals across organisations. I’ve learnt that my ignorance wasn’t a coincidence. It’s part of a defence mechanism that helps perpetuate these systems.
I’ve come to believe that many of us would like to play our part in dismantling structural oppression, but find ourselves overwhelmed. I offer the #dareconf leadership retreat in the hope that together we can get past overwhelm and help each other to be part of the healing of our workplaces, society and planet.”
“Jonathan is a remarkable thinker, do-er, collaborator, motivator and teacher. He has an incredibly rare gift in both driving alignment while creating space for innovation. Jonathan has an enviable gift to listen, distill, align and drive a concise path forward. I've also participated in two of Jonathan’s events. He is incredibly committed to ensuring the events are thoughtful, purpose-driven and jam packed with meaningful, tangible insights.”
—Jessica Wittebort, Director of Customer Experience, Brilliant Basics (an Infosys company)
“Jonathan is serious about changing the ways we interact with one another. He gives what can feel like immense amounts of time to exploring how body language, tone, silence and well-placed questions, can change the ways we engage with one another for the better. In theory, it can be hard to see the practical value of examining such details, but in practice, the results can be remarkable. We are so used to feeling unseen and unheard – when we have a chance to feel truly listened to, it can be a deeply liberating experience. And this kind of experience, when realised, can open our abilities to organise together.”
—Liam Barrington-Bush, activist and author
“We needed a strong and experienced facilitator for our large workshop of 80+ stakeholders in a new financial services industry initiative. There were widely differing interests represented, with strong opinions and divergent agendas. Jonathan quickly grasped our requirements, demonstrated an uncanny knack of identifying the major issues to address, and proved to be an excellent facilitator on the day. We achieved consensus on the critical principles and brought together all involved in a common view of what we should aim to deliver. It was a tough job but he was very capable, kept the flow going, and guided us to a very successful conclusion.”
—Miles Cheetham, Head of Propositions, Open Banking
“Jonathan has facilitated some of the best events I’ve been to. His calm, insightful, knowledgeable advice is some of the best I’ve had and I’m really grateful to him for giving me the tools to develop my own abilities further. The events he runs are always fascinating and I've learned a lot about how to run events that are genuinely open and inclusive, and make the space for everyone to be involved. I’ve also always taken away genuinely useful tools to use in my own workplaces.”
—Laura Morgan, Former Head of Product, Comic Relief