Lovely, empathetic, friendly, caring OR
The new kind of people, the new kind of economy, the new kind of world, the new kind of life, the new kind of world order, …
I spent 5 days in beautiful Marion Bay, on Tasmania’s East Coast, about 40 minutes east of Hobart, at this year’s Newkind Conference. In its 5th year, it is “a conference for social change, designed to inspire and empower you to effectively address the social, environmental and economic issues we face as a global society.”
It is all about “Inspiration. Integration. Action” and the overarching mission is to support full system regenerative change.
I already wanted to attend last year, but wasn’t able to, so this year, after having quit my corporate job and starting my own business BWitched that is all about inspiring and enabling change for a better planet, I thought why not.
And there I was, looking at the Falls Festival site where it was held: a large bag full of camping gear, warm clothes (because you never know what the Tassie weather brings) and curiosity of what there was to come.
What impressed me most was that the festival is 100% solar powered and has an innovative biogas reactor that generates gas for cooking and heating the showers. Newkind offset their carbon emissions and encourage everyone to travel as environmentally friendly as possible (which isn’t an easy feat with the conference being held in Tasmania, an island off the Australian mainland). Most people flew in, some with connecting flights. I had booked a direct flight and offset the carbon through Atmosfair who can accurately calculate each flight’s emissions.
Newkind is a zero waste event. All participants were asked to bring their own plate, bowl, mug, cutlery and no packaging to the event that was fully catered, all plant based. There was a strict no alcohol and no drug policy.
So, sustainability creds aside, what did I get out of these 5 days?
Surprise No. 1
The participants were soooo young! I’d say that 85% of attendees were 25 years or younger. I felt somewhat old and out of place as it felt like a gathering of young idealistic activists.
Surprise No. 2
I’d say that 2/3 of the attendees were women. Amazing! Girls (or those who identify as woman) are changing the world. 😊
Surprise No. 3
There were a lot of spiritual and alternative happenings that I hadn’t anticipated – primordial play / physical movement, holotropic breathwork (I still don’t really know what this is, but many said it was full on and very emotional), group hugs, spontaneous group dances, … Everyone was full of emotions and grief.
What I loved
The location is stunning, Marion Bay is absolutely beautiful, kilometres of beach, birds nesting, peace and quiet. I started my mornings walking to the beach and taking a dip in the icy cold water – very refreshing. The opening ceremony was beautiful as Aboriginal elders let us participate in their traditions. The food was tasty and diverse. Cooking three meals per day for 500 people is not an easy feat. There were great speakers and interesting topics that I will investigate further. I coincidentally was introduced to a cacao ceremony which was beautiful. I knew a few people who I had connected with already in Queensland.
What could be improved
I was totally surprised by the focus on activism – across all attendees, speakers, sessions and conversations. I think it’s a good thing, but I also have the feeling that not all activism is really thought through. And that is a worry as it can have unexpected consequences.
And I had hoped for more environmental topics out of personal interest.
Some topics were presented in a very simplified and simplistic way (i.e. insane trade, local futures). In a nutshell, if we all band together, we can change the world (yes, this is motivating, but for me is lacking more realistic thinking).
The biggest challenge I see with Newkind is that it is a conference that preaches to the converted (I know most conferences do, but Newkind is all about driving change). Everyone there wants to or is already driving change in this world. They are convinced that society as it is, needs to change to save this planet and they are doing everything they can to make it a better place.
And I wonder how can we make this more mainstream? The conference really needs speakers and attendees from a broader range of age groups, industries, economy, politics, money, on top of the focus on academia, activists and social enterprise. This is my ask for next year, to incorporate more of ‘real’ life into it for a more rounded picture and more specific actions.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience. It was a very different type of conference that I usually go to and had more of a festival feel to it. Personally, I have a fair few topics I want to do more research on. And I am now convinced that I need to do the permaculture design certificate finally.
Tickets for Newkind 2021 are already on sale.