The Renew Fest was a beautiful space set at Mullumbimby Showgrounds, 7-9 May 2021. It was a relaxed family atmosphere with hundreds of people from near and far buzzing with excitement to meet each other but also with concerns about the multiple crises, such as the affordable housing and bushfire, we are currently facing here in Australia.
Our small team, Shane Sylvanspring, Trudy Juriansz and Sion Zivetz, set up an information stall so we could share about ecovillages and the movement both in Australia and globally. We displayed the ecovillage design cards and shared stories and insights from communities and community led projects. We were also joined by familiar faces from the GEN network who are ecovillagers themselves, have done GEN education programs or are ecovillage advocates.
Some key insights that came for some of us was about processing conflict in our own communities, how to deal with different levels of conflict and how to create a safety net for people dealing with conflict in communities.Judy Atkinson shared trauma stories from indigenous and non-indigenous people and creating safe space and the need to learn how to create safe spaces.
I was so excited to run the stall and chat with people but it was also tiring as I had to also take care of my daughter, Maia. The one session I was only able to attend fully was on anti-racism by Erfan Daliri. For a person of colour, an immigrant to Australia and someone who has been affected by racism at various points in my life, I was immensely touched and felt very vulnerable. If nothing else, this was cutting edge for me – to have the conversation so openly on race/ethnicity in this type of space. I truly appreciated that this piece was held at the festival. It reminded me that the heart of ecovillage is culture – looking at the dominant worldview and understanding how and why we have come to be here. And how might we rethink and reshift these structures so we can embrace each other fully.