We all of us, plants, animals, insects and humans live on and share our ‘pale blue dot’ – Planet Earth – as she spins through Laniakea in an ever expanding Universe.

We have a common cause in maintaining the complex balance of Gaian systems to nourish and sustain us all.

But humanity has chosen, at least in the West, to dominate and use those systems, to ‘do to’ one another and the natural world rather than to ‘do with’ and to adopt increasingly human centred, short-term, specialised and exploitative approaches to life on Earth.

At the Centre for Connected Practice we want to explore new ways of knowing.  To create connections, not divisions. To envisage a different future where enough is enough.  Where our organisations, economies, professions and governance have creativity, connection, spirituality, community, social justice and environmental sustainability at their heart. Where quality of life for all Gaia’s residents is the force that drives society.

The challenge is immense.  Many are developing new ways of knowing, exploring different world views, reducing their environmental footprint, searching for a different way.  We hope that the Centre can encourage new connections, new networks, new knowledge sharing across community, professional and academic boundaries.  We hope that you will connect with the Centre for Connected Practice and help build a sustainable future together.

We aim to inspire creative action for hopeful futures on our pale blue dot

Initially we plan to:

  • Publish, encouraging new ways of thinking, perspectives and practical ideas for individuals and organisations
  • facilitate and deliver workshops, training and learning for new futures
  • explore the potential for creative interventions to influence thinking and mobilise action
  • to share innovation, ideas and approaches

All current evidence is that we are sleepwalking towards disaster despite recent and welcome awakenings through David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion.  The carrying capacity of the Earth has been exceeded since the 1950s and the conventional wisdom of the past four decades – economic growth and liberalisation – coupled with population growth means that we have a collective responsibility to change.  We are setting out to build on our own experience in the UK local government, NGO and partnership sectors and community and higher education to set out new approaches and means of engagement which encourage new ways of thinking and acting. The Centre for Connected Practice starts from some fundamental values:

  • humanity shares the planet with the ‘other than human’ world and must value, respect and cherish it
  • without social justice, participation and inclusion, we will be unable to meet fundamental challenges
  • everyone has a spiritual core, best cherished by constant enquiry, reflection and learning
  • Our planet is an almost miraculous entity which, together with the evolution of reason in humans, has taken 13.6 billion years to emerge; seeing life in that context will help to build new perspectives and approaches

The Centre for Connected Practice is an unincorporated organisation established by two principals.  As it grows we will consider new legal models, but initially our aim is to work with others to build ideas and to facilitate change.


Helena Kettleborough

Helena has a life-long career enabling participation and social justice in communities, believing passionately in the power of communities to change the world for the better with resources to do so. Now Building Earth as Community and teaching ‘joining self, to community, planet and cosmos’ through action research, Helena works in a variety of settings delivering workshops on sustainability and biodiversity loss, she is an active volunteer and leader in her inner city neighbourhood. 

Based in Rusholme, Manchester, jointly with, and inspired by, her Civil Partner Phil Barton, Helena has established the Centre for Connected Practice and facilitates projects for Creative Rusholme [link to home page] with her neighbours.  She wishes to share, teach, publish and empower based on her lifelong learning journey. 

Helena was awarded her PhD from Lancaster University Business School in 2014 and now teaches responsible enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She was awarded Outstanding Teacher in Sustainablity (2016) and nominated for Outstanding Teacher in Innovation (2017), awards nominated and voted on by MMU students. 

Helena draws on her career as a senior manager in Local Authorities delivering community development, learning and neighbourhood regeneration services across North West England as examples of what communities can achieve together.


Phil Barton

Phil was, until 2015, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy which campaigns and supports citizens and others to love where they live, improving the places where they live, preventing waste and respecting one another and the environment.

Since then he has trained and practices as an artist [link to PB:A homepage].

Previously he worked in the public, private and voluntary sectors in the United Kingdom to build partnerships and empower people to value and improve their local environments, to take positive action and to work together to achieve more.  

Despite many successful initiatives and actions, our fundamental approach to the environment as a society has not changed throughout that time.  Phil has helped found the Centre for Connected Practice as a vehicle to promote new approaches to raising awareness and stimulating the adoption of new ways of knowing to complement the practical achievements of countless community and not for profit organisations in bringing about change.

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