In my short visit to Tasmania earlier this month I found myself fascinated by African Box Thorns which were the dominant vegetation on the land at NewKind festival. They boar sparse fruit that was rich in Vitamin C, protected with ample thorns that could pierce through truck tyres. I couldn't help but see them as symbolic of the challenges Erfan (founder of the festival) faces in his day-to-day life having committed his life to effective social and environmental change. Not an easy task! But it’s a role that he takes on with a warrior spirit.
I'd never met him prior to the festival, but I could feel his passion for humanity and the environment in his spoken word pieces, & they struck a chord within me. As each year passes I feel my love and appreciation of nature grow. I also come to know & understand the wisdom nature holds, but simultaneously my sense of concern for the state of the planet increases. In the echo of the late John Lennon, I’m not the only one. There is no room or time left for complacency. I was compelled to find out more about this group of committed people that were gathering for the purpose of learning and teaching how to best be of service to the planet and it's inhabitants, so I booked my flights.
I arrived a couple of days prior to the festival opening to help out on site. As I walked down the baron dirt road, the wild wind hooking around my body, a small group of people were gathered around a marquee. There was a sense of focus on the job of erecting the shelter, so I dropped my bags and assumed my position between two others who were also helping. After quick introductions we lifted it together with around 20 others. This community spirit I came to learn was a deeply woven value into the muddy and torn blanket of NewKind. It is what binds it together under extremely harsh conditions.
Erfan was also on site and welcomed me with a warm hug and a thank you for showing up before quickly moving onto the next task. There was definitive purpose in his stride, much like everyone I came to meet on site. I could instantly recognise the respect he commanded. Everyone I met wanted to help, and in return Erfan expressed humble appreciation. It was a beautiful thing to witness, strangers coming together and stepping up to be the best version of themselves for a cause and a man’s vision they also believed in.
The entire festival was run on solar powered energy with zero waste, vegan food and drug and alcohol free. Hundreds of people gathered to learn & teach new ways of living, from permaculture, to renewable energy, living plastic free & cruelty free. The list of workshop options and presenters was impressive. But the reality of the situation is that it although organising a festival may inspire social change, it takes a much more for substantial impact to be made both locally and globally… and it’s not a glamorous road of accolades and applause. Often efforts are met with criticism, judgement, resistance and fear. It seems to me that if you want to be an activist, you must also be well prepared for a certain long battle. However, there seems to be no other choice for some that have been touched by social and environmental matters. Thankfully, that number seems to be increasing. After all the earth will always survive... it's humanity that is at risk.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said; “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” Thank you, NewKind festival, for opening my eyes, ears and heart a little further. Thank you, Erfan for living fearlessly and giving generously to this planet.