The Fair Share Festival

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One of the inspirations for the Tiny House (Photo: Alicia Fox)

One of the inspirations for the Tiny House (Photo: Alicia Fox)

The latest Transition Newcastle newsletter received the biggest response we’ve ever had. As part of the Fair Share Festival in November, Jasmine and Larni (both in year 10) are going to construct a tiny house out of second-hand and waste materials. We’ve had so many offers of materials and other support.

In a way, the tiny house exemplifies the focus of this year’s festival: the environmental and social impacts of over-consumption and waste in our society, and how we can make a difference.

Timed to coincide with National Recycling Week, the third Fair Share Festival will be a weekend of inspiration, education, community building, creative actions and entertainment. The festival includes:

  • Speakers, panel discussion and workshops about consumption, waste and alternatives
  • Upcycling workshops
  • Building the Tiny House
  • A screening of The True Cost, a film exploring who pays the price for our fast fashion
  • A giant clothing and book swap
  • An upcycled fashion parade
  • Children’s upcycling, art and circus activities
  • A repair café
  • Market stalls – food and upcycled/recycled products
  • Music and entertainment
Asset-based community development workshop at the Fair Share Festival, Newcastle.

Asset-based community development workshop at the Fair Share Festival, Newcastle.

The festivals are run by volunteers on a shoe string budget. Thanks to support of the City of Newcastle, we are going to be able provide a small honorarium to some of the people running upcycling workshops, and we are hoping other sponsors will come on board who will help cover the costs. It is a Fair Share festival so it we hope we will be able to also make small honorariums to people who perform at the festival or who bring professional skills to help us out.

Being dependent on people passionate enough to put in a great deal of work on a voluntary basis, each festival has quite a different focus and “feel” depending on who has the enthusiasm and energy to make it happen. The inaugural festival, held in 2010, was organised by Permaculture Hunter with assistance from Transition Newcastle and the Permaculture Research Institute. The festival was founded on three permaculture ethics:

1. Earth care
2. People care
3. Fair share

According to Tom Toogood (from Permaculture Hunter who had the initial vision for the festival), its aim was to:

Explain and promote community and family-friendly alternatives (like co-ops, community barter, micro-business loans, community banks and mutual aid societies) to the current “greed is good” economic skullduggery that produced the global financial crisis.

In 2012, Transition Newcastle was asked if we would be willing to organise a second festival. The theme for the second festival was transitioning to a connected community, a localised fair economy and a sustainable future, and incorporated a public forum in collaboration with One Just World on “Closing the poverty gap – creating a fair share for all”.

FSF 2012-34 smallIn 2014 rather than a festival (partly because there wasn’t the energy for a full festival), there was a public forum and workshops with  David Holmgren (co-founder of Permaculture) and Nicole Foss (a Permaculture teacher and finance and energy expert).

This year, the festival has been initiated by people from one of Transition Newcastle’s projects, Upcycle Newcastle, so the festival will have more of an emphasis on creativity, practical skills, and hands on participation in upcycling projects – taking responsibility for our over-consumption and waste. Interestingly, for the first time, most of the organising group are women.

Upcycling workshop (3)The program is still taking shape but we are pretty excited by what is planned.

Presenters include:

  1. Jane Milburn, a leading figure in the Australian slow clothing movement and the founder of Textile Beat, will discuss fast fashion and slow clothing as well as conduct two practical workshops and display garments from the national Slow Clothing Project in the upcycled fashion parade (There’s more about her in the Newcastle Herald)
  2. Jenny Cameron (one of the co-authors of Take Back the Economy: An ethical guide for transforming our communities) will reflect on the sharing economy
  3. Tricia Hogbin, the blogger behind Little Eco Footprints: Learning to live better with less, will facilitate a workshop on creating time for a fair and sustainable life
  4. Bonnie McBain, an environmental lecturer and blogger at Herding the Green Chicken, will facilitate a change maker workshop
  5. Shann Turnbull, from the International Institute for Self-governance, Management and Investment Services, will discuss creating a zero growth economy
Outfits from the Slow Clothing Project on show at the Revive event in Brisbane

Outfits from the Slow Clothing Project on show at the Revive event in Brisbane (Credit: Jane Milburn)

There will be panel discussions on:

  1. The share and sharing economy
  2. Parenting in a consumer world
  3. Managing waste
  4. Responding to food waste
  5. Dealing in waste
  6. Urban farming
  7. Creating an ecology centre for Newcastle

Some of the practical workshops include:

  1. Textile upcycling -beginner and intermediate workshops
  2. Upcycling ceramics
  3. Composting
  4. Upcycling pallets
  5. Re-upholstery
  6. Making a guitar from waste

denim-workshop-8One of the features of the festival that has remained constant has been the partnership with Hamilton Public School, where all the festivals have been held. This year we are really pleased that the school is getting behind the festival again and we are discussing ways of involving students in the lead up to and during the festival.

The first festival was attended by 250 people. The second festival grew to 800. We are confident that, with good weather, this year will be the most successful and we are aiming at 2000 people.

The festival is a real community effort and relies on many unpaid hours of work from a small group of hard working volunteers. Many of us don’t have specific skills in organising events, but we are willing to give it a go. It is great when people with specific skills join us. This year we are fortunate to have some people with some real experience in media and promotion which is making a huge difference.

Keep an eye on the Festival page on the Transition Newcastle website for updates. It’s going to be a busy couple of months.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  2. What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)?
  3. A passion for upcycling
  4. 21 Stories of Transition
  5. Social change and strengths-based approaches
  6. Parenting for a better world

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
This entry was posted in Environmental sustainability, Working with communities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Fair Share Festival

  1. Carole egner says:

    This looks awesome. Wish I was near Newcastle to be able attend!

    Liked by 1 person

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