Published in


Birmingham Learning Marathon is GO

Presenting the fifth peer group to embark on the Learning Marathon, and the first group to do so outside London…

Each member of the group will explore their Learning Question and develop a response, drawing on the resources and creative potential of the collective. The Questions span topics of data, grief, veganism, leadership, networks for black women and girls, creative careers, the built environment, spirituality, branding, embodiment and more. Read on for the full questions and an introduction to those posing them…

Cassie Humphries-Massey

Cassie is a writer, psychology student and charity sector all rounder; she has supported the charity sector for the last decade as an organisational mastermind, juggling projects to support mental health, peer-led support and sustainable transport. Her path has been changed irrevocably by the birth, and unfortunate death, of her daughter Norah. Fuelled by her passion for change, an interest in psychology and the circumstances surrounding Norah’s death, Cassie is working hard to change the conversation around grief, and the way we treat people after death, a process she calls navigating the wilderness.

Her Learning Question is ‘How can we change attitudes to grief and death in order to better support communities and families in grief?’

Andre Reid

Andre is a designer with a background in architecture, music, business and IT. On a day to day basis he likes to create and challenge radical ideas for how we might design the spaces around us through a systems lens and a human lens.

He is building an organisation called KIONDO which is a community-led design and fabrication practice. He hopes that KIONDO will eventually become a platform that enables local communities to engage in independently in collaborative design and making.

His Learning Question is ‘How can we create a scalable system to aggregate and share ‘big data for little people’?’

AJ Lightheart

Work-wise, AJ does two things. Firstly they work with leaders and organisations to take wise and timely action in the face of mess and complexity, as well as supporting the growth of inclusive, equitable cultures. Secondly, they’re the co-founder of Tikbox, a growing anti-racism consultancy, working alongside their business partner Suriya Aisha.

AJ is white, able-bodied, neurotypical, queer and trans non-binary. As you might have noticed, their pronouns are they/them.

AJ tries to read a lot and is working on writing more regularly. They authored Presentation Now (Pearson 2015), which was a WHSmith Business Book of the Month. They speak crappy Spanish, German and British Sign Language and have a long-term daily meditation practice.

Their Learning Question is ‘Do marginalised people evolve to interdependent styles of leadership differently than people who are from the dominant narrative?’

Nardie Hanson

Nardie is a primatologist by trade, but more so in her heart as she doesn’t really get paid to be one any more. She is currently exploring how to function as a responsible adult (increasingly more responsible for myself and the world I wish to live in, not just for my dependents) in an ever despairingly terrifying yet utterly beautiful and joyous world. She is a lifelong learner and educator and has always loved the saying ‘I am here to wonder’ but she often strives to add ‘…and then understand to the best of my ability with the evidence and methods available at the time’.

Her Learning Question is ‘What role could veganism play in our societal, cultural, and cognitive evolution?’

Romek Goj

Romek currently works as a freelance web application developer on tech for good projects supporting the global mindfulness community, which, as a meditator himself, he loves being a part of. He has a background in physics and research on neuroimaging data analysis methods, which remains a keen interest. His interest in understanding the brain and his personal experiences of actively managing his mental health spill over into a fascination by the intersections of productivity, personal growth, self-care and mental health and the possibilities for creating tools to support human flourishing.

His Learning Question is ‘How could a space for self-care and growth be created in the midst of overwhelm?’

Mikayla Jones

Mikayla is a Birmingham born, bred and educated twenty-something Black woman figuring it all out. Currently working for social mobility and leadership development charity UpRising, she has experience with youth facilitation, campaigning and building strong networks. From this experience Mikayla hopes to build an important platform for black women and girls. Through her own lived experience she knows the value and absolute power of black women supporting other black women.

Her Learning Question is ‘How can i build a space, network or platform for black women and girls to heal and grow together?’

Holly Doron

Holly is an architect and associate at community-focused practice, APEC Architects. She is also a design studio tutor for the architecture course at Birmingham City University. During her 10 years in practice, Holly has developed experience in third sector, heritage and education projects, and leading community engagement and collaboration with artists.

She has published research in studio culture, interdisciplinary design, and bridging the gap between academia and practice. When she isn’t architecting, Holly attempts to learn Polish and play cello (if she’s not being distracted by board games or lego).

Her Learning Question is ‘How might community participation and empowerment become the norm for built and unbuilt development, and be sustainable?’

Verity Milligan

Verity is an award-winning photographer and educator who is happiest when she’s outside chasing light. In her photography career she’s worked with international organisations (Yorkshire Tea, American Express) and tourist boards (Visit Britain, Marketing Birmingham) on advertising campaigns, as well as local businesses, and she has had work published in various formats across the world. As an educator she teaches undergraduates how to use still and moving images to create compelling stories. She is a huge fan of obscure indie bands, long walks and warm pubs. Oh, and cake too.

Her Learning Question is ‘How do I develop the skills to be able to create a sustainable career in the creative sector and help others to do the same?’

Thomas Tyrrell

Thomas Tyrrell aka Ridlaa is a rapper, film maker and music producer. As a film maker, Thomas produces films under the name of Tyrrell Films and specialises in music videos, events and short films. As a rapper, Ridlaa creates conscious rap, yet humorous lyrics, based on neuro struggles, aliens and the life around him. With a heavy influence of Hip-Hop, Sci-fi, Horror, Dark Comedy and experimental art, Thomas’s creative work is not for the faint hearted.

His Learning Question is ‘How can we create ourselves as a brand?’

Anneka Deva

Anneka currently works as External Relations Officer at the University of Birmingham School, exploring the education system and the role of character education in bringing about human flourishing (or ‘eudaimonia’).

Anneka has designed and facilitated programmes for startups across Europe at tech accelerator Oxygen through a series of accelerators based at Google Campus in London and startup retreats in Tenerife and Budapest. She has also managed brand development projects at award-winning brand agency ORB, and designed national youth leadership programmes at youth charity Envision UK.

Anneka is the founder of TEDxBrum, responsible for bringing the international TEDx movement to Birmingham in 2011. She brought together and led teams of over 40 volunteers to create the first two TEDxBrum events in the city in 2012 and 2013, and has coached speakers and led outreach programmes for subsequent TEDxBrum events in 2016 and 2017.

Her Learning Question is ‘How might I cultivate a spiritual practice?’

Lisa Lucy Gakunga

Lisa is an architectural designer, a mathematics tutor and an entrepreneur who is keen on exploring and designing environments that promote positive consumerism and zero waste habits. She founded PopIN UK in 2016, a company that designs portable popup environments and curates popup experiences which promote new ways of transacting such as swap and mend shops. Lisa also set up an online platform in 2014 called Blacktapesociety which has been focusing on building a creative intelligence involving systems changers, leaders, influencers, policy makers and social changers. She will be exploring her question about how we can use attribution to empower ourselves and others alike which will form part of Blacktapesociety’s larger conversation around empowerment.

Her Learning Question is ‘What is attribution and how can we use it as a tool of empowerment?’

Rachel Donath

Rachel is Head of Learning and Development for a top 50 national law firm, responsible for the professional development of over 900 staff. She also works part time as a tutor for Warwick University on their coaching Masters programme. She is a qualified business coach and coaches senior members of the firm. She is passionate about helping others to create fulfilling, stretching and balanced careers. She is also passionate about wellbeing and launched a Firm Wellbeing Programme to promote both positive physical and mental health.

Her Learning Question is ‘How can embodied learning help people make change and meet today’s challenges?’

Fancy a Learning Question of your own? Have a play with our Learning Question Generator.

Interested in becoming a future participant? Leave your details here to be the first to know when applications open.

Want to connect to one of these awesome folk? Start up a Learning Marathon in your local area? Get in touch at for a chat.




We're an award winning social enterprise redesigning lifelong learning by harnessing the power of peers groups. This is where we share our insights and reflections.

Recommended from Medium

That “Aha” Moment: A White Woman’s Experience at a Black Lives Matter Protest

Dear Transplants: 5 Truths to Know About NYC

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Inside A Dog Shelter In Bulgaria — A Volunteer’s Perspective

Slavery, Economic Slavery, and The Covid Pandemic

Understanding Queer Activism

Week 9 Reflection

Take A Bow: The Harm of Performative Allyship

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Zahra Davidson

Zahra Davidson

Co-founder & Director @EnrolYourself | Affiliate School of #SystemsChange @Forum4theFuture | Formerly @yearhere @wearesnook

More from Medium

The 15 Most Innovative Global Muslim Media Production Startups to Watch in 2022

What is Tech for Good, and is it enough?

Curiosity plants the seed of Innovation

Nike’s Story and Continued Success