The festivals are run by volunteers on a shoe string budget and so 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:
- Earth care
- People care
- 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 skulduggery that produced the global financial crisis.
In 2012, Transition Newcastle was asked if they 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”.
In 2014 rather than a 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.
Highlights from previous years
The 2010 Festival was an inaugral success, with over 250 people attending and opened with an acknowledgement to Country by Mick (Didge) Davidson, and the Lord Mayor John Tate. Speakers from both the local area and interstate gave talks on a variety of topics, including the then-recent GFC, housing affordability, sustainable living, public assets, with Key Speakers such as Dr Shann Turnbull, John Ford, and Mark Grant. Fun was also had with Mick Davidson holding a didgeridoo workshop, comedy, and athletic performers from Circus Avalon. Additional photos from the 2010 Festival can be found here.
The 2012 Festival saw a forum hosted by One Just World on closing the poverty gap. Over 200 people attended the forum, and it was supplemented by the presences of Daniel Ben-Ami, author of “Ferraris for All”, and Donnie Maclurcan from the Post Growth Institute. A video of the forum can be found here. There were also talks from Cheryl Kernot, former politician, and Doris Puiahi, a community worker from the Solomon Islands. Additional info and pictures from the 2012 Festival can be found here.
The 2014 Festival saw talks from sustainability experts David Holmgren, co-founder of Permaculture Hunter, and Nicole Foss, an expert in finance and energy as well as a Permaculture teacher. We had around 230 people come from all over New South Wales to hear them talk about urban resilience in our age of climate change and resource scarcity – and the crowd was not let down! A short version of David’s presentation can be viewed here, and a short version of Nicole’s can be viewed here. David and Nicole both also hosted workshops, each assisted by academics from the University of Newcastle.