In 1996, three of us started a new ‘social business’. Building on our long-standing friendship, many conversations about doing something different and a shared idea about the integrated nature of social, economic and environmental development, we embarked on the project. We had to find a property, persuade others (family, friends and a bank) to lend us the purchase price and work out how to start putting our idea into action.

It was, for us, a big ventureā€¦ and we were pretty daunted. But a surprising number of aspects simply fell into place and quite quickly it just became unstoppable. We came to recognise and cherish the aptness of Goethe’s adage ‘The minute you take the first step, then providence moves too’. Shortly after we had registered the name ‘Trigonos‘ as a company limited by guarantee, someone told someone else who told us that a residential arts centre set in 18 acres of land on the edge of an unspoilt lake and with an uninterrupted view of Snowdon had recently gone bankrupt and was up for sale. We went to see it and we all knew without needing any discussion that it was right, even though it was 3 times the size of anything we had viewed till then and even though we had no way of knowing how we would raise the much higher asking price than we could imagine raising.

From the project’s first year until now, some 16 years later, Trigonos has earned enough income each year to invest further in the land and the buildings and in developing the site as a model of sustainability – most recently by installing a large wood chop generated boiler to cut exorbitant gas and oil costs. It has found its place in the locality, supplying organic vegetables, offering a venue for community celebrations, employing 15+ people and providing useful voluntary activity for youngsters (and the not so young) finding it hard to get paid work. In the past year, Trigonos has won awards for ‘Most Sustainable Business’ and for ‘Green Tourism’ in North Wales.

It has required dedicated and relentless work, but is deeply satisfying. And our efforts are confirmed and rewarded by the enthusiasm of our colleagues and well-wishers and, above all, by the numbers of groups and individuals who return again and again to Trigonos as a place to hold their courses, bring their families or provide a setting where they can simply be themselves.

The Goethe quote above, starts with an inspiring challenge: ‘Whatever you think you can do, do it’ we hope that Trigonos has inspired many others to break a mould and to just ‘have a go’ at doing things differently.