Helen Harwood talks to Liane Kensett, who brought her missional dream of making scraps into something beautiful to the CMS Missional Entrepreneurship week last November. Helen caught up with Liane to ask more about ‘Orts’…
It was lovely to meet you last November and have you join the Missional Entrepreneurship module. Can you tell me something about yourself and what brought you to the CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course?
Hi Helen, it was great to join the course and get to know you and some of the other students a little.
I am training up at the York Institute as a student deacon within the Methodist church. I’m in my final year of training there, but because I started the degree in theology and ministry before I candidated I completed it in the summer, and so I was looking for an academic element to my training for this year when I came across the CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course in ‘The Kitchen’ at Greenbelt.
I loved the sound of the whole course, but the Missional Entrepreneurship module particularly caught my eye as I had a gem of an idea for a small enterprise. I was delighted to find the course was a week’s residential as a weekly commute from East Yorkshire would be exhausting. I was excited when I got the approval to do the course from Sean, the director of York Institute, and completely bowled over when I saw the environment that the course took place in!
Yes, it was a lovely venue. So how did you find the Missional Entrepreneurship module?
Do you know, I loved it! It felt like a real gift! I expected that I would get on with people, as anyone interested in spending a week looking at missional entrepreneurship are fairly likely to be like-minded. Everyone was really lovely. The atmosphere was great. The tutors Shannon and Steve and all the other contributors were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and approachable. Teaching was done in a relaxed, creative manner which didn’t feel like hard work at all, and yet I found that my learning and understanding moved on enormously. The week has equipped me to turn an idea into something that looks like it’s going to happen! There feels like a firm foundation to my thinking because of being encouraged to consider the missional elements of what I hope to do as well as the more practical enterprise elements.
I was very impressed with your Orts idea, please do tell us more?
In the final term before the summer I had a six week placement with Lighthouse in Hull, working alongside and supporting women in the sex industry, particularly those working the streets, or trying to move out of prostitution. Their stories, and how useless and unvalued they feel, has stayed with me.
Then I had the privilege of spending some time at the Edinburgh Fringe during the summer break where I heard about a “celebration of orts” being co-ordinated by a Venture FX minister in the city. Orts is an old fashioned word meaning left over scraps. The celebration involved turning scraps of fabric into lovely items people valued.
The blending of the two things has stuck with me and grown and developed. The week on the course helped move these thoughts into a potential business plan. Upcycling left over scraps into beautiful items we can sell, with the emphasis being the process and helping all involved to discover the beautiful value that they have too.
What has happened since the week in Devon with your Orts project?
I have begun meeting intentionally with Anna Hembury, who works for CMS, and supports some of the Lighthouse women. We have dreamed together for years about working together on a craft/community venture, and it’s fantastic to see it finally coming about. We meet with one of the women to sew and begin to move the dream of Orts into a reality!
Things are moving on! Thanks to the generosity of Pickwell Manor we have secured the use of an old pharmacy in the parish hall right in the area we want to be in. Gradually it is filling up with donated craft resources and fabric scraps. We hope to get the table this week so we can actually begin making. Every time we meet though, even for cleaning or planning, it is Orts happening because it’s about the values and ethos of what we’re doing, building community through the process of beginning a social enterprise. Steve and Diane from the Imagine Foundation came to see the base and chat with us this week, as a result of their advice and help we are about to open a bank account and draw up a kind of constitution. It feels like a really big and defining step!
What are your plans for the future of Orts and might we see you on another CMS pioneer event?
It is a case of “watch this space” with Orts! I am hoping that by the end of the month we will be meeting regularly as a small group, we have a sewing machine and some scraps, we have a volunteer to come along and get us crocheting too, so we are good to go! Hopefully we will begin to build up a stock of lovely homemade crafts ready to sell at Christmas. Keep your eyes peeled for the Orts label!
I hope I will be at another CMS pioneer event, I don’t have any plans at the moment, but then I’m not 100 per cent sure what the future holds. I hope continued relationship with CMS pioneers will be part of it. Definitely dreaming and working with Anna will keep me in the CMS loop.
Lastly, Liane, how can we pray for you? And is there anything else happening you want to tell us about?
It would be great if people could hold the whole Orts concept before God, and all who are/ will be involved, so that it is something infused with love, and hope and a tangible expression of the spirit and kingdom of God. Thank you.
Thank you, Liane, please do keep us informed about what God is doing through you and through Orts, it is inspiring stuff and certainly amazing as you help all kinds of people to discover beautiful value.