Over ten thousand people from around the world gathered in Far North Queensland in November to witness two minutes of an incredible total solar eclipse. Held in the most remote location Green Chief has ever worked at, the event was a six day logistical feat in extreme conditions. All crews who worked on the event faced incredible challenges to pull off the event, enduring heat and difficult terrain, on top of the lack of resources in a remote location selected specifically for the optimum viewing of the solar eclipse. The event staff drew on several local and international festival crews, all of whom showed incredible commitment, passion and sheer talent in making the impossible happen.
Green Chief operations had been painstakingly crafted over six months to meet the constraints of scarce regional resources and the festival budget, and we certainly met our share of obstacles once on site. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and we were presented with several unique opportunities for innovation! Our large-volume bins showed the audience capable of keeping on top of separating recyclables in bulk. The centralisation of campsite waste collection points was also a great success, and further proved that campers are willing to travel and to still separate their recyclables when the infrastructure is cleverly designed. We were also forced to introduce ‘participatory dance floor clean ups’ as we have come to call them, due to a lack of human resources.
This inclusive system was a fascinating development, as it highlighted one of the unspoken assumptions in our line of work – that the space must be spotless before the audience gets out of bed. We realised how much we were still working within the prevailing paradigm, and our journey outside the box revealed how much these assumptions work against us. After some tweaking and encouragement on our part, we found the community more than willing to contribute to maintaining their space both at dawn and throughout the day. Two days in and the idea had spread of its own accord – we found spaces that we hadn’t targeted left in pristine condition, and daytime dancers enthusiastically pitched in when our Pick-It-Up Pixies came out to the dance floors. The feedback from the community was overwhelmingly positive – it seems we are denying them a chance to be involved when we whisk away their trash in the dark, they simply never knew and were grateful to be included in caring for their space.
Collaboration was the key in putting together the Eclipse festival, from the participation of the audience to the incredible mutual support and camaraderie between the international events crews. We were struck by the beauty of what can be achieved when so many people work together. It was a landmark event, by all accounts a profound festival experience, and definitely something we are proud to have been a part of. But it was all about the solar eclipse – two minutes of awe and majesty as the moon moved in front of the sun, forming a surreal vision in the dawn sky that can hardly be described. To witness the eclipse was a gift. To be a part of enabling that experience for so many was truly an honour.
Splendour In The Grass 2011
Green Chief Sustainability were invited to work alongside Tepee Life and the Splendour in the Grass Sustainability team on a new project designed to increase recycling in the campgrounds. Tepee Life strategically placed 5 of their roomy abodes around areas of the Splendour campsites that had previously acquired a lot of rubbish and manned them with groups of Environmental Science students, known as The Green Chiefs. These chiefs spent 6 hours a day talking to happy campers about what could be recycled and where it could be placed to ensure collection. Cardboard boxes were distributed alongside portable butt bins-an idea that the Chiefs relished as communicating with campers is so much easier if you have a gift to give. Especially as these gifts made recycling and not littering easier. In some campsites the campers were collecting the boxes faster than they could be distributed!
Part of the 6 hour shift was spent using litter pickers to keep main walkways clean, and towards the end of the festival directing campers towards the bulk bins as they packed down camp became par of the course. Most groups of Chiefs had opted to wear costumes which made them stand out from the crowd and instilled a sense of unity and an easy approachability that became key to the success of the programme.
Amie Green, our own Green Chief expert was on hand to collect data from over 100 surveys conducted over the weekend, which should give an indication on how successful the Green Chief programme was and how it can be improved for next years Splendour.
The Planting Festival
A much smaller gathering than the New Years Eve Woodford celebrations, around 1000 people turned out to maintain the beautiful festival site. As over 100,000 trees have already been planted in previous years, the focus was very much on weeding (over 48 tonnes were removed this year!) and using some of our on-site compost gathered over the previous 2 years to mulch a few new shrubs in the Butterfly Walk. During the day that is. As dusk falls people gathered around fires to talk over larger ideas and listen and dance to a host of folk-inspired musicians. Volunteering our services at this event certainly has its benefits as there was plenty of time to involve ourselves in the activities (sour dough bread making anyone?) and really soak up the atmosphere and ideology that makes this site and its festivillians unique.
Inspiration has many muses and it’s true to say that nature inspires the ethos behind Green Chief. As the last festival of the 2012/2013 season, time for reflection on the past 6 months was imminent and what better setting than on top of the Woodfordia hill, where the horizon and setting sun provide the backdrop?
Wholehearted thanks to our hundreds of volunteers who turned up to work on time and undertook the less glamorous side of greening with us. A million hugs to crew, old and new, who grew and made our daily tasks a pleasure rather than a chore. And finally to our supporters, the ones who believe that a greener festival is one worth investing in. Thank you all.
The most relaxing end to a season I think I’ve ever had. Pro bono work obviously has its benefits, and cleaning up after a gathering of community minded people who were on the Woodford Folk Festivals’ Woodfordia site to beautify and contribute was almost a contradiction in terms. The Planting’s 500 strong participants just weren’t into trashing the place. The sense of ownership of the site that has been instilled from the get go, supplemented by a monthly gathering of self proclaimed Tree Huggers to weed and seed, has benefits all round-and not just to the litter pickers and bin haulers. Volunteers turned up to work 2 hours work each morning and again in the evening with promptness, happy to be a part of the running of the weekend. Many were first time volunteers, some hadn’t even been to Woodford before, yet the strong social norming process produced from other Woodfordians ensured newbies immediately respected their surrounding.
Aside from a little recycling and bin hauling Amie got to plant a few trees, learn to weave and spend a couple of memorable nights by the campfire, drinking mulled wine and listening to some tear-jerking jigs on the fiddle. A pleasure to be a part of, Woodfordia, we love you.