The new garden of Eden – much, much more than a green theme park

The Eden project is an educational charity quite unlike any other. It started back in 1999 by taking an old disused Cornish clay pit. This was 60M deep, the size of 35 football pitches, had no soil and was 15M below the water table. From this has emerged one of the world’s most spectacular symbols of hope.

They call themselves a living theatre of plants and people. And it just shows what can be achieved, when an inspired group of people work together. That hole in the ground has been turned into a unique organisation. Businesses can learn a great deal from their passion.

For me, these are Eden Project’s top five lessons to be learnt:

1. They are passionate communicators. They have the ability to move effortlessly and seamlessly between the different audiences they are involved with; adults, educators, politicians, children, art, technology and the like.
2. They don’t miss a trick when it comes to promoting their organisation. They relentlessly use exhibits, events, workshops and educational programmes to constantly remind people what nature gives to us and how to look after it in return.
3. They cleverly exploit customer retention. The entrance fee isn’t for a day, but covers entry for a whole year – but you have to provide your contact details. This enables them to promote their ‘friends’ giving programme. And as they know that many guests come from afar on holiday, they also have an ‘efriends’ version too.
4. They give freely of their knowledge, trying to ensure everyone who surfs their web site leaves knowing something more about their connections to the world.
5. The programmes they run are interesting, inspiring, topical and relevant and above all in tune with their audiences. For example encouraging children to get outside and connect with the natural world. Or to explore climate issues. Or to look at food and health. Collaboration is fundamental to their ethos.

Eden Project is a great day out; providing a unique experiment in communication and public education in an interesting and stimulating way.

It creates a living stage to show that the choices we make can make a difference to the world in which we live. And it is a symbol of hope, showing just what can be achieved when people work together.

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