Arms Wide Open: INTO Bermuda – March 2019

Conference Theme: ‘Arms Wide Open’: Strategies for engaging with diverse communities

David Scott, Chair, National Trust Zimbabwe, was very privileged to be able to attend an INTO conference in the exotic location of Bermuda.

Our sincere thanks go to INTO, along with the Bermuda National Trust for the very generous sponsorship without which, NTZ would not have been represented.

Grateful thanks are extended to the following INTO Council members who made this trip possible:

  • Catherine Leonard
  • Oliver Maurice
  • Bill Turner (and his team)

Below are excerpts from David’s report to the Council.

The conference revolved around this theme encouraging all trusts to “look outwards” and “think out of the box about communicating with and providing inclusive services to the wider communities within which trusts operate”.

This forward thinking concept is, in my opinion, of some considerable importance to NTZ which seems to be perceived as “a vestige of a colonial past” and NTZ needs to be attracting the support of the wider community at both NTZ Council and Committee and community heritage/cultural activity levels.

An item of interest to Africans would be the rain water harvesting mandatory requirement by all residences and public buildings. The roofs are all painted white with a special paint and rain water is channelled into reservoirs built under all the houses. There is no fresh water supply (rivers) on the island so all water requirements are from rain water.

Delegates learnt a lot of the history, heritage and culture of Bermuda. The island consists of approximately 65 000 people in an area of approximately 21 sq miles. The Capital is now Hamilton.  We undertook trips to various areas of the island which included the World Heritage town of St Georges (the original capital of Bermuda).

Town Hall UNESCO World Heritage status

The conference was held over a 4 day period during which presentations, and breakout sessions took place in various historical locations. The Opening Ceremony was held in the World Heritage Centre facility. His Excellency the Governor Mr John Rankin, Deputy Bermuda Premier and Minister of Home Affairs the Hon Walter Roban and a video Bermudan welcome from Michael Douglas, a long term resident of Bermuda and various other officials, including the St George’s Mayor and Town Crier.

A typical St George’s street scene

Bermuda is a British Protectorate. We were hosted on the first evening by the Governor at his beautiful residence with spectacular views.

On Day 2 the theme was ‘Open to All – Whose Heritage Counts’. I presented a 5 minute talk on the difficulties experienced by NTZ in the hostile economic and political environment within which NTZ has operated. 3 other delegates gave short presentations on heritage and conservation challenges faced by trusts from Italy, Bermuda and USA. That evening deletes enjoyed dinner at Fourways Restaurant followed by long service awards to Oliver Maurice and Geoff Read for their amazing service to INTO.

Bermuda National Trust manages many sites on the island such as Bridge House and Tucker House.


On Day 3 delegates were given the opportunity to drill down with experts in conservation and to meet with INTO executive leaders on how to make the most of INTO.

The connections of Bermuda are very close from slave trade times and Boer war prisoners:


On the final day there was a round table on the workshop highlights where moderators reflected on the best things they have learned from the conference. Dame Fiona Reynolds closed the conference by giving a very interesting speech and announced the next ICNT host to be: Belgium.

I have included a few extracts from a blog written by Catherine Leonard (CEO of INTO), shortly after the conference which summarises the conference so well:

Three themes

For me, there were three themes running through the conference:

One has been the extraordinary diversity of what the NTs of the world do. We heard stories of biodiversity loss and invasive species, of historic site interpretation and building skills, of managing small islands and climate of heritage inventories and volunteerism; of building membership, fundraising and volunteerism; and of ensuring that the heritage preserved by INTO members fully reflects our communities.  What amazing organisations you all are!

It was a pleasure to share experiences, to listen to committed voices.  To remember that the things that concern us are basically the same.

Stronger together

The second theme is that we are stronger together.  Queen Quet’s song at the beginning “Walk together children, don’t you get weary” set us off on the right path. This was further underlined by Gus Casley-Hayforth who said how important it was to gather as communities and nations to be inspired.  (His speech is also worth a read and can be found here.)

Darren Peacock continued this by saying that no Trust is an island and that everything is connected.  (This was a theme of our 2011 Conference in Victoria where ‘Everything is connected’ is a Coast Salish saying.)

Open arms

And the third part is that we’ve all agreed how important it is to open our arms as wide as possible.

Gus talked about doing the right thing.  I’ve long wanted to quote Professor Dumbledore in a work context as I actually feel this applies quite well to a lot of us: “Do you know why I admire you, Newt? You don’t seek power or popularity. You simply ask, is the thing right in itself? If it is, then I must do it, no matter the cost.

We heard so many words of wisdom from Princess Dana, from being brave enough to say “no” to putting human dignity at the heart of what we do.

Fiona said that this was the most moving and important discussion INTO has ever had and I believe it is.   It hasn’t always been comfortable but why should it be?  We have an important job to do and need to be challenged at times.  Queen Quet talked about the democratisation of heritage “continuation” (rather than preservation, which should be reserved for jarring food!).  Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks was concerned that we don’t reflect the communities we represent.  And Jeremy Harris asked us to think about ‘universal natural rights’ and be more neighbourly with our planet.

The conference was a resounding success in all respects.

Huge thanks go to the community who participated in hosting and guiding conference attendees. The people of Bermuda are very kind and extremely hospitable. For example, the delegates were hosted in private homes one evening for a dinner.

All in all a truly memorable conference thanks to INTO and the Bermuda National Trust.



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