A space for conversations in a time of global disruption
I posted this a few days ago on the Dark Mountain blog - but I thought I'd repost it here. Please fire away with ideas for this year's festival - especially venue suggestions, as we're hoping to get a date and place pinned down in the next week or so.
So, 2011 is underway – and already it’s proving a full and exciting time in our corners of the world.
The next issue of Dark Mountain is coming together – although our editorial deliberations earlier this month were interrupted by the arrival of Paul’s new son! If you sent us something for consideration, thanks again for your patience. You will hear from us very soon, now.
Meanwhile, it’s time to talk about this year’s Dark Mountain festival.
Uncivilisation 2010 was intense, exhausting, inspiring, frustrating and uplifting. We know how much it meant to many of you – and it’s been obvious, more or less ever since, that you wouldn’t let us get away with not doing another festival in 2011. (Some people couldn’t wait! Like Dougie Strang, who organised a four-day Scottish DM mini-festival in October.)
We’ve also given a lot of thought to the things that could be done differently, second time around.
For one thing, we want to move away from a format which involves an audience in rows of seats and speakers sitting under spotlights. The conversations which take place around the edges of events like this are, in many ways, the heart of the matter, and we need more space for them to happen in. We also want to avoid the separation between venue and campsite which somewhat broke up the flow of the weekend. Of course, we do want to bring together another amazing mixture of performers and speakers to match those who brought such spirit and stimulation to last year’s event, although we won’t try to cram quite so much into every minute of the programme this time. And we’re keen to make more room for getting dirt under our fingernails, with practical activities to get involved in, bridging between the craft of stories and songs and the crafts of the hands.
Another thing – anyone who’s read Paul’s books, or gone to the pub with either of us, will know that the range of beers available at last year’s bar wouldn’t have been our first choice! Locally-sourced food and drink will be essential to the event this time around.
So – those are some of our hopes! To make them real, we’re going to need your help. Last year, the whole festival was organised by four of us, supported over the weekend itself by the fantastic venue staff and local volunteers. This year, we want to widen things out – and to open up the process to your ideas and suggestions.
There are plenty of people who would be far more competent than Paul or me at bringing an event like this to fruition – and we’ve already had several offers from those who are willing and able to take responsibility for parts of Uncivilisation 2011. But we’re still looking for a few more of you who would like to join the core gang to help us make this happen and give it the kind of attention to detail which will make it special.
Whether your skills and passion are for programming bands, organising finances, coordinating volunteers or arranging logistics, we want to talk to you! Please send us an email at email@example.com, telling us what part of the process you’re interested in helping with.
Finally, there’s one big question which we need to answer very soon – where should Unciv 2011 happen? Our first festival would never have come about without Michael Hughes’s invitation to Llangollen – and we couldn’t be more grateful for that spark, and for all the incredible hard work which he and his team put in. Somewhat miraculously, he’s already signed up to be part of the team for year two. We’re really proud of last year’s event, but we think we can improve upon it, and one way of doing that will be to find a venue with less of a tension between the space and the conversations we’re there to be part of. In short, somewhere more Uncivilised.
This year, then, we’re looking for a rural, outdoor venue with capacity for at least 300 people and (hopefully) some experience of hosting this scale of event. Its environmental impact should be as low as possible. If you have information about a possible site – or suggestions for which part of the country it should be in – please post them in the comments here, or email us.
We also need to firm up a date for the festival soon. We’re thinking of holding it later in the summer, this year – probably in August.
They say your second marathon is more terrifying than your first, because you know just what you’re letting yourself in for. That’s pretty much how we feel right now. But we also know how much last year’s festival meant to those who took part – not to mention how many people have told us they wished they had been there. So we feel honour-bound to create something which builds on that and deepens everything that made it special.
They cope with my wife's natural parenting people and hold a music festival so they appear to manage small crowds and large. It's in the country and it's a lot less, well...civilised than Llangollen.
The down side is it's an absolute bugger to find in the dark.
Hi Mike -
That's a reasonable request! Here's the website for last year's festival, which gives you some idea of the range of things which went on:
Here are some videos:
And here's a thread from the forums afterwards:
Hope that helps!
Mike Vandeman said:
It's hard to propose, when I don't know what happened at the last event. Can we get a report or reports?
Martin & Roger - thanks for the suggestions! I'm going to talk about them with Paul and Michael - and I'll let you know how the conversation's going very soon.
If you like, I could ask Michael Eavis, (who I know), about using his farm, which is of course used by another larger festival earlier in the year. But I will only do this if you think it would be an appropriate venue. You may wish to go somewhere that is not seen as so "establishment". But Michael does have a mediaeval tithe barn, (which is not used by the Glastonbury Festival itself), and would form a good laid back hall, as well as oodles of space for camping and marquees.
Many thanks Keith for that clarification.! I had always assumed that Unciv was about collapse.
The locations that come to mind in the UK for "imagining a world without civilisation / where it had never happened" would have to be remote in some way: eg: islands off Scotland, Ireland ?
Keith Farnish said:
For clarification, David, Uncivilisation isn't about collapse, but imagining a world without civilisation / where it had never happened. There is a place for alternative societies here, but although it may be trite to say that urban areas are a defining feature of civilisation and therefore are not actually that relevant, it's true to a greater extent. Vis a vis, it's bloody hard to imagine uncivilised life in the context of a highly civilised location. That's what made even Llangollen a distracting environment: there was too much civilisation for clarity of thought and expression.