Australia’s Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) is on again! Having worked with the core production team for the past two festivals (2012 & 2013) I’m relishing the luxury of more space and time to explore this year’s program. As usual there are too many things I’d like to see and once again I’m wondering about the possibility of cloning myself…
I’m interested in growing food and food system innovations, the intersect between art and activism, urban renewal and wellbeing initiatives, thought provoking design and stuff that just sounds delightful or practical…Really narrows it down, don’t it.
A good way of approaching the SLF program is to choose just one or two areas of sustainable living that really interest you (gardening? climate science? health & wellbeing?). Then dive into the program, pull out all events relating to these areas and choose those of most value to where you’re at right now. Even if you walk away from the Festival feeling extended in one area, that’s a beautiful thing right?
But, if you’re like me and inspired by a number of topics, it’s useful to decide on a couple of ‘selection criteria’ before immersing yourself in the program. Here’s my decision-making touch points for this year:
1. Keep it local – I don’t own a car so travel time is a consideration. Also, I’m always keen to connect with change makers and innovators doing things in my local ‘hood (see point 4 below).
2. Pay it forward – I have a limited budget for ticketed events. And with so much great free content it’s often a challenge to loosen the purse strings. But I know the ticket price on events curated by the SLF production team goes directly to helping cover the core Festival running costs. This Festival lives because a lot of people give their skill and time to make it so. To quote Jess Miller, the Festival ‘runs on the smell of an organic muesli bar wrapper’. So prioritising an SLF ticketed event is just good Festival karma. The two main options for supporting this year’s SLF are: buy a Festival Big Ticket or get along to the Great Debate.
3. Feed your learning edge – this goes to the point I was making earlier about value. It’s worth figuring out which events will meet your learning needs. For instance, I’m just starting to get my head around permaculture, so any introductory session will probably do it for me. But if, for example, you’ve already got your Permaculture Design Certificate you may need to dig a little deeper into the gardening offerings to find something more challenging. It’s worth going offsite and checking out the people/organisations behind the events. They’ll generally have a web presence, so do the research. Ultimately, it’s a ‘you get out what you put in’ kinda thing.
4. It’s about connecting – mostly I’m going to Festival events to listen and learn. But it’s also about plugging into and nurturing my network of like-minded allies. Sometimes I’m just wildly curious about the people I might meet at a particular event. This year I’m also keen to re-connect with some excellent regional contacts I made while coordinating the SLF’s Better Block Tour last year. I’ve noted Geelong is staging a strong showcase again this year, so I’ll be aiming to check out at least one of their local activities.
5. Go with your gut – if there’s something about an event that just resonates with you, it’s great following that instinct over going to something because you think you should. At times there’s just not enough information available to make a logical decision. So far I’ve not been disappointed with my ‘wildcard’ SLF selections and, while I’m not much of a gambling person, I highly recommend having a punt on a program dark horse.
With this not-so-narrow lens in mind, here’s the chronological menu of events I’d love to attend over the first week of the 2014 Festival. Note: those events falling ‘below the fold’ indicate ones I think are interesting but don’t meet my criteria or clash with my schedule. Also, I’ve only managed to plan the first week so far. I’ll do another post for the Big Weekend and for week two soon.
Fri 7 and Sat 8 Feb:
I’m moving house on Saturday (and it’s going to be 40 degrees/104 F. Sweatsville!) So the likelihood of actually getting to anything is pretty low. But if the stars, and removalists, align I’ll try to get to the talented Leyla Acaroglu’s E-waste Autopsies at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Sun 9 Feb:
A day for celebrating my old haunts in Brunswick…and all things arts and crafty. First a bike ride into town for a making session with the Ghost Net Weavers in at Birrarung Marr (Check out this Guardian highlights article for more on the full Indigenous Arts Festival).
Then, cruising back to Brunswick, enjoying the warm Summer day and stopping to view two local exhibitions: Walking Distance and Diagonals & Some More Tangents. Finally arriving at my ‘pick of the day’ a Sunset Picnic & Film Screening set in the West Brunswick Community Garden.
Below the Fold:
Mon 10 Feb:
More delightful, crafty goodness with the Ink & Spindle team’s Sustainable Screen Printing back at the NGV. Also a sterling opportunity to check out the Manna 2009 exhibition and NGV’s Backyard Beauty.
Tues 11 Feb:
Second choice was a tough one: between the Creating a Sustainable Table event and the Doing Something Good curated Sustainable & Fair Food forum. I like both concepts, but the Fair Food event wins by a nose for it’s emphasis on participant interaction. Can’t do ‘em all.
Wed 12 Feb:
Ok, it’s time to come clean: I’ve got a thing for waste. In sustainability educator terms I’m known as a ‘Wastie’. Plus I confess to a strange, ongoing obsession with plastics – they’re just so alternately awesome and terrifying. It makes for scintillating dinner date conversations. And a desire to get along to this Rethink Centre Recycling Tour…So there’s that.
Thurs 13 Feb:
I’ve been trying (not very successfully) to give up coffee for February. No reason, other than to see what the world would be like by taking ‘the red pill’ and breaking a twenty-year-at-least-once-a-day habit. I’ve been occasionally substituting my delicious cup of caramel scented, brown gold with the life-giving goodness of green juices, so I’m keen to understand The Secret of Growing Leafy Vegetables.
Wow, you’ve read this far? Go you! Here’s a little reward for your stick-at-it-ism. I’ve been uber-geeky and made a little, simple spreadsheet with my own personal SLF event schedule on it. Download it and customise it if you like: SLF_personalmenu. And if you show up at all the events I’m going to, be sure to say hello. Don’t make it weird.
‘Super Geek, Super Geek…she’s Super Geeky’ Rick James (loosely)
P.S. I have no financial affiliation with any of the organisations or individuals I’ve linked to in this post, I’m simply highlighting things I’m interested in. Although I wouldn’t say no if Rick James bequeathed me THAT onesie.