top of page

Moments of Connection and Exchange at the 3rd Annual State of Our Trails Summit

Image credit: Joby Newson

The morning after the 3rd Annual State of Our Trails Summit ended, I went for a swim. In the week spent at Plas y Brenin, this had become a quiet ritual. Time spent bustling, tapping, planning and talking was bookended by time in the water, looking out at the expanse of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) in the near distance.

As I lay floating on the surface, watching the morning clouds part to reveal blue sky, I kept replaying everything the last two days had been, trying my hardest to pick my favourite moment.

It is rare, especially now in this time of distributed working, digital communication and social media, to get to be really present with professional peers around a single idea. Even at Trash Free Trails, where our Friday team meetings often derail into joyful chitchat, we all I think miss the feeling of being physically alongside each other when we're focused on the same task. As a species we are pretty predisposed to value proximity and collaboration, and in the workplace it can be incredibly important for debate, exchange and creativity.

I'm the Communications Manager here at Trash Free Trails, but I also work within the live arts, and with that I bring a particular preoccupation with this feeling - the feeling of being in a room with other people - and the potential that lies within that shared experience. I believe firmly that there's a particular kind of exchange that can occur when we're in a room, virtual or in person, together with a shared focus, interest or purpose. These kind of exchanges that can only occur when so many amazing minds are working on the same thing, they're nothing short of a quiet miracle.

Though I didn't know it when I started my role here, this is exactly why we host the State of Our Trails Summit. The Summit is much more than simply a container to showcase our work; it's a space for our community, for those who have a stake in the future of our trails, to come together and create a place for exchange. That can be everything from exchange of ideas, knowledge and information, to affirmations, contact details, laughter, agreement, disagreement, accountability and more.

And all I could think, as I lay there floating in the lake that morning playing it back through my mind, was how incredible it was to experience so much exchange at the Summit. I caught myself at many moments watching delegates who joined us in the room, and those who joined us online and were sharing their experience through the live stream comments. Seeing conversations spark inspiration, joy and connection - that was my greatest highlight, and what I will carry with me into our coming work.

I know I could write more on what we did and what was said, but there's plenty of time for that coming soon. For now all I can say is I hope for many more days like these, many more containers for exchange. I know, right to the core of me, that this is how we will achieve our mission.

Words by Rach Coleman

To experience the Summit yourself, watch the recording here. To find out what's coming next and how you can join our next event, sign up to the Trash Free Trails newsletter.


bottom of page