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Being part of the pack-down crew at Peats Ridge music festival has a lot more work involved then one would imagine. A lot more than I had imagined.

The idea behind this New Years festival is to be sustainable while providing art, music, and workshops. As they’re website states, “a major part of the Peats Ridge experience is finding out how to live more sustainably, and therefore reduce our impact on the beautiful Glenworth Valley, and the planet as a whole.”

One way in which this is achieved is by composting all the food waste – minus meat – in massive built up compost bins created by yours truly. During the day we separated the paper material like cups, plates, and cutlery from the food waste that were all deposited into the compost bins. The paper material is then shredded (including waste boxes laying around the festival) and is used as a brown layer between the compost. It’s a great way to ensure that a mix of green and browns is evenly distributed to the compost. It’s also an amazing way to divert such a large quantity of food waste that is left around after 5000 people eat at a festival. Go team compost!

Calgary Folk Festival takes the approach of providing plastic plates that require a $5 deposit for use. Each vendor is required to use the plates which are obtained at a kiosk. Ironically, each year youth end up making a killing by walking around the beer gardens offering to “remove” plates from the drunken patrons. Combining both options seems like a more optimal and sustainable approach as you are not creating more demand for paper products. Thus further reducing teh festivals ecological imprint.

“Can you guys come over to the festival vendors bin to help out?” – why not I thought. When we arrived at this massive garbage bin provided for the food vendors it was filled with food. Around the base of the bin there was mounds and mounds of corn. Apparently, a vendor was not as successful as they had figured they would be to hungry festival goers. Instead they determined it was more economical to throw away the corn, 5 KG of pinto beans, a box of ginger, boxes of uncooked Turkish bread, and 4 x 20 KG bags of potatoes.

Did they expect that vendors at the festival would act in such disconnected fashion to the festival? I sat there stunned. Then Chris, my old friend from a permaculture school, and I proceeded to place the corn into milk crates and give it out to the workers around the festival. Liberate the corn one cob at a time!

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Start of the roadtripLast weekend Chris, Bec, and myself rolled out of the Permaforest Trust seeking new adventures, time to let our hair down, and some great music! We were heading to the Bellingen Global Carnival to watch international artists rock several different stages.

Our journey started with a few late night road pops, french fries (mmm yum), and several dumpster dive sessions during our 4 hour journey down the coast. We managed to find heaps of veggies and a few other treats to feed us for the entire weekend. I have to admit that I was still quite surprised at how much we did find when we discovered the right bins…

Do I look like something out of magazine advertising Gap?

The following morning we realized that our campsite at the festival was surrounded by beautiful trees and rad neighbours. We had played a night of truth or dare and I had been dared to wear a dress at the festival for one hour (among other things). So in the morning I did a photo shoot with Chris and Bec with Bec’s beautiful dress. It was a pretty good experience to wear a skirt…

Ironically, after Bec suggested later that I should turn it into a skirt and wear it for the rest of the day I didn’t hesitate *well I felt a bit nervous but then kinda thought…man what’s the problem here this is a cool skirt*. So for the remainder of the festival I confiscated Bec’s skirt and wore it and still have it at the trust — dunno if she’ll ever get it back.

Wearing a skirt/dress kinda made me realize some things about social/gender norms that we hold about ourselves. That a male is generally thought to be strong, tough, not have a feminine side, and not to wear such things as dresses and skirts except of course kilts. There’s a cultural significants to kilts that makes this an exception.

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I spent the last few days (well actually the 23rd and 24th) of last weekend at the Soundsplash Eco Reggae Festival in Raglan a surfer town known to many.I left Turangi on Thursday and not long after leaving the outskirts of the city I had some rad feral hippies scream out of their car window if I wanted a ride (read: the use of feral is common in these parts by hippies and I [they agreed] attribute that to something like how black people call themselves niggers). Plus I’m feral as well and that happens when one doesn’t actually need to shower everyday I suppose. These two womyn have to be the best ride I’ve had so far in New Zealand. They made a detour to the *free* hot springs on the way up to Raglan, which I definitely didn’t object to doing. We all dived into these beautiful waters mixed with cold river water and hot water coming from the volcano and honestly it was the coolest/weirdest feeling I’ve felt in a while. I had no swimming outfit (well it was in the bottom of my bag) so I just used my underwear which made for a good swimming suite. I probably would have gone naked but there were people around so decided against it.

Then off we went to Raglan ot the land of chilled out vibes, surfing bays, beautiful country-side, and some great peeps. The entire weekend was chalked full of some really amazing music including the highlight for me – Mihirangi!

Mihirangi performs acoustic soulful-roots and funky world-r’n’b with a rare performance style. She creates her own band sound – live in front of the audience. Using a loop pedal she layers her vocals into intricate harmonies with beat boxing and vocal bass lines, along with acoustic guitar and tribal rhythms, to accompany her R’n’b infused vocals.” – Mihirangi’s website

I’m telling you this performance was worth missing Blue King Brown (one of the reason’s why I originally headed to Raglan) for. She had a lot of energy, love, and good vibes coming from her performance. I kinda wished that I had an opportunity to chat with her afterward but things were crazy that night and at the very least she put me in a great mood. So thanks for that Mihirangi. And on a rad plug note check out her website El Canado Kids cause she’s coming to a place near you. AND she has good promo deals for those that are willing ot help her out with her gigs (they are all in March folks).

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Rebicycle TentI realize I haven’t posted for a while but I was out at Peats Ridge Festival from the 29th of December to January 2nd with the Nunnery crew volunteering at a bicycle co-op there (so blame it on not having internet, being in the bush, and lovin every minute of it).

We rode into the festival from Hawksbery River station (27 KM) along an old highway and as it turned out there was about 30 or so riders into the festival (being that this was the first time it was a good show I think).

There were tonnes of elements that this festival had that really impressed me (or made me poop my pants in excitement). Completely composting toilets for all festies (festival goers), bamboo plates/cutlery (chopped up and composted), compost bins & recycling bin, solar powered generators, bio-diesel, grey water collection systems for showers (free biodegradable soap/shampoo for use), and so much more. It was an impressive setup considering some of the other festivals I’ve been too in the past!

I spent most of the time chillin with the bicycle crew in our tent renting out bikes, repairing campers bikes, and giving out free hugs! HAA HAA Actually there was also a courier service that I took great pride in.
I can’t complain with the experience that I had but I do think it might have been good to have more time to take in some of the seminars that were put on. There were (from others that I know went) some pretty amazing discussions going on about mud-brick building, sustainable building, permaculture, etc (frothing at the mouth). More photos can be viewed here from Moz’s camera.
Regardless, I did get time to chill out and catch some amazing bands. Our news years started with a critical mass throughout the festival grounds doing figure-8’s, talking to peeps, and plenty of laughing. One highlight for the night was watching a local Tasmania political rap band called Combat Wombat *I love these dudes* It was a nice way to start of my New Years celebration (bustin up the beats on the dance floor, yellin, and been out there!). As if I’m not like that all the time pffft.

Something worth reading: Being out in the country with 10, 000 people (really chilled out surprisingly) made me really return back to place of calm. One afternoon I took off with Aline for a ride out of the festival grounds and around the country side. It was like a breath of fresh air being out there, and sometimes I think it’s easy to forget that we are well a small part of this entire planet. I feel really grounded in the bush, complete, and chilled out. I just hope that everyone takes some moment this year to find that grounding, deep breaths of fresh air, and relaxation.

My wish fo you peeps: I’d like to write each one of you but well I’m kinda slammed with things to get done before I head to New Zealand (sorry folks). So I hope that each one of you has a year filled with love, adventure, challenges, growth, kindness, sharing, learning, and plenty of LAUGHTER!

– Big smiles & hugs from your crazy friend Shane