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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
As a suggestion for a participatory activity, how about a "deep ecology workshop" (council of nature). With mask making etc. It could be good and I think would fit in with the ethos.
So you're throwing in the towel are you Keith? He got to you at last?
Seriously though, the main problem with Monbiot last eyar was that he was invited as the sacrificial goat, to champion Social Democracy 2.0 and be ritually slaughtered by the contradictions of his own position.
We shouldn't really do that to people, as they do tend to put up a fight in that situation (unless it's David Bellamy or Johnny Ball. I'd be up for that).
Personally I'd be very happy to see Monbiot back, but not for that role. He's a big fan of dystopian fiction, so we could have got him to discuss that instead.
Well, to be fair, the idea of getting George along was to explore our Guardian debate themes a bit further because they were central to DM. We got Dougald to do it rather than me because I didn't want it to be a personal thing or an ego contest. What then happened was [a] we set it up wrong, and put George in fight mode and [b] George went into fight mode anyway because that's basically his default position. Funnily enough, I spoke to him about it afterwards and he thought he'd done us a favour!
So yes, anyway: no more of that. I think we've moved on. I'll try and persuade him to come along anyway, if he wants to. But I want this year to be less stagey and ego-led, which I think is a general consensus.
We'll be announcing when and where next week, by the way. It's taken us longer than expected but we have some really good options to choose from.
Dystopian fiction is a good one.
Get him to prattle on about The Road, he does it well.