As many of you may know, putting a festival together isn’t always easy. But as you probably also already know – it’s always, always worth it.
At The Green Gathering especially, we know we’re working towards building something which lasts for so much longer than one weekend.
Director Em Weirdigan tells the story like this:
“The festival grows from and is created by a bunch of people who mostly genuinely live low impact, alternative lives. Many of us were or still are ‘New Travellers’ – we’ve lived in vehicles and benders and yurts and Tipi Valley and intentional communities and housing co-operatives for decades. We’ve been part of rave culture and the free party scene, Reclaim The Streets and road protests, Climate Camp, Occupy and XR.
We’ve had our travelling vans trashed, we’ve been arrested, we’ve been spied on by police out to discredit anything that threatens the status quo; the Big Green Gathering was cancelled at the last minute in 2009 in dubious circumstances which demoralised and bankrupted a whole swathe of the counter-culture.
We’ve come back, started again, and now we have an event that wins international awards for being a pioneering eco festival. At the festival there are people with such depth and range of life experiences and skills. Permaculture, traditional crafts, skills that have almost been lost and are vital in these times. Using hand tools, living off grid, nurturing the land, sustaining community, weaving and dying and wood craft and metal smithing. We have storytellers and fools, herbalists and harpists and welders and makers of windmills; and all of these things we want to share to create a better world.
So many people who come to the festival are blown away and leave with new insights, skills, fresh hope, changed behaviours. And they return because the Gathering sustains them.”
It’s this spirit which captures the hearts of everyone who decides to come along and become part of our festival community.
Here, in their own words, are some of the reasons our co-ordinators work so hard to make GG happen. Read on to be inspired, and learn more about all the behind the scenes heart and soul which makes a festival come alive.
It’s about being able to show people different skills and career options they didn’t even know about; and doing something practical towards getting heritage crafts off the endangered list. Crafts used to be passed down father to son, that doesn’t happen now, so other interventions, like the Craft Area at GG, are needed to stop skills disappearing.
I love creating a transient intentional community during the festival, and then inspiring others to do the same all over the world. When we can experience good design that offers people-care and fair shares, with earth-care and future-care, while acknowledging the gift of knowledge from indigenous peoples, then we can start to understand that another world really is possible.
It’s amazing to be given the Info Exchange to invent and nurture. I love how it grows, and how through knowing people I can weave things together. I love the Green Gathering and am privileged to be part of it. It’s always been a ‘Gathering of the Tribes’.
GG and Glastonbury; these festivals, over 2-3 decades, have changed my life and change other people’s lives – this is very inspiring. It’s also a chance to get back together with mates and work together at least once a year; it’s great seeing people growing up through and at the festival, people who were little kids brought along by their parents are now taking on responsible jobs. Building networks is so important – we’re going to need cohesive, resilient communities to deal with the fall out of climate change.
Everything Shane and Amanda have said! I am one of those young people who grew up at the festival and it’s great to be here helping co-ordinate the stewards now.
When I’m considering another deeply dull document and think ‘why am I doing this?’… well, it’s because this community keeps me sane. We’re not always great at shouting about our achievements, but our festival is now held in high regard. Other events have modelled themselves on GG.
It’s about keeping dimensional doors open for other generations; we must continue to offer portals to alternative dimensions.
As a younger person stepping into my GG role I feel a weight of legacy – I want to do right by everyone who’s been part of the community for so long. I’m inspired to share the music with the community, to bring new grassroots music to the festival… and also, to be finding new members of our family who I can’t wait to welcome as they ‘come home’ for the first time.
I was a grumpy anti-festival person until 2012 when I was dragged along and… fell in love with the Green family. I like making things go smoothly for the artists and working out how to work with the crew. The aim is to remove obstacles between artists and audience. I love how a diverse group of people have responded well to this brief and like seeing the crew bond and make connections.
It’s inspiring helping people experience something outside of the mainstream which has the potential to positively change their behaviour and possibly even their lives. Also, just imagining something really intensely all year… and then seeing it come true. It’s like magic. Really hard magic that takes lots of work, but still magic! And, looking after the traders, because I know how it is from the other side having run a festival cafe. Traders really appreciate that the first thing we say when they arrive is ‘would you like a cup of tea?’
GG provides a balance to what’s going on in the rest of the world. A little picture of how it can be, an alternative. When people want to come back, that’s affirmation that what we do works.