Brilliant weekend, brilliant vision.

First, a heartfelt congratulations on what has been conceived and realised; it is incredibly impressive and has the potential to be vitally important at a time when the elite are taking more and more for themselves. As Greg Thompson said at the conclusion of his talk, we are no longer living in a capitalist system its becoming more of a feudalistic system. I agree with him and it’s happening right under our noses and not enough is being done about it, what with the Labour Party being in such a state. The weekend offered a beacon of positivity, much needed after the recent deluge of bleakness. After the discussion on storytelling and seizing the narrative I was somewhat depressed having been told that the political narrative was always the same and involved the creation of a common enemy, the promotion of a charismatic leader who then leads us to defeat the enemy and on to the promised land. Really, can it be so reductionist? It did, however, promote a discussion between us that led us to conclude that the left doesn’t have a common enemy around which we can mobilise. Yes, there is anger but it is dissipated; spread around a number of bogey men. Too few understand what neo liberalism actually means and although austerity may be despised the narrative of “we have to live within our means” seems to counter whatever anger there is. Campfire has the potential to shed a light on what is actually going on and I -and I get the feeling many others- will thank Pete for being the facilitator/fire starter. Practical feedback follows, 1. Could the quiet camping area be locked between say midnight and 8am. Make it clear that the gates will be locked and no one be allowed to either come or go during those hours. First, in retrospect, having those idiots driving around our tents in the middle of the night at speed, knocking over porta-loos was really very scary. It wouldn’t have taken much for something to have gone badly wrong and the whole weekend turned into a tragedy. Second, sort of defeats the object of the quiet camping if someone parks their car inches from your sleeping head (despite the existence of a car park and acres of space) and then starts setting up camp very late, as happened to us. 2. I realise the lack of showers was a costs issue. I wondered whether something very basic, ie cold water, open air, could be easily put together? 3. I liked the fact that there wasn’t too much going on so there was this sense of a sharing of the same experiences. Nevertheless a number of the events overlapped and I was torn between missing the start of one or missing the end of another. Could there be say 10/15mins intervals between events? 4. Having said that I liked Eno’s suggestion that perhaps some events should have a finishing time that is more open ended. Or possibly better, following a talk on stage there is an area (another tent/large gazebo) where the conversation/debate can continue if that’s what is desired. 5. Having said that I think there is a better way of fostering the debate than asking people to step up to a microphone to say their piece. In spite of wanting to get away from audience/panelist divide, I think this method simply co-ops an audience member as a panelist, albeit temporarily. Some people, myself included as I can never think of the right thing to say in time, find this a little intimidating. One method I have worked with involves setting up a number of separate tables (hay bales) where there is one permanent member (say a panelist) and one broad area for discussions (ie topics within topics) per table. The remaining audience can choose which table interests them the most and join it. They can either stay put throughout or move on as the fancy takes them. After the allotted time everyone comes back together and the permanent members summarise for everyone the nature of the discussions at their table. I think this might have been a better format for the final discussion/feedback session. A theatre group called Devoted and Disgruntled are particularly good at this. 6. I didnt think the architecture of the Garden Stage worked because of the pillars and supports at the front. It sort of gave the impression the panelist were behind bars or at least they felt a bit tucked away from the audience. Small quibbles on an otherwise excellent weekend. Thank you all.


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