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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Beyond Aquarius thanks

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Dr Rob Garbutt, Southern Cross University

The Aquarius and Beyond event – a community conference, perhaps – that SCU (with the help of others, see below) put on in Nimbin on 23 and 24 May was a huge success in and of itself, as well as for Nimbin, and for the relationship between Nimbin and SCU. I have a strong feeling that there will be further mutually beneficial outcomes developing from the two days.

There is still a lot to wrap up but in the mean time, I wanted to get a quickish set of thankyous out there:

* We had a wonderful A+B committee and then a group of volunteers who kept things running – Nollie Nahrung, Shauna McIntyre and Jo Kijas on reception for both days; Nigel Hayes always available for hall arrangements; Jeanti St Clair keeping the documentation of all types running smoothly; media students Carlin Frost and Alex Bloem who had their first solo experience with video/stills and sound respectively over two very long days; Nollie again for doing the initial poster; Emily Handley on document scanning; Denise Rall for reception/set-up.

* The event would not have been the success it was without the help of the Arts and Social Science Tech team. Especially: many thanks to Ian Slade for turning the Nimbin Hall into a conference venue, photo studio and film set; Rodney Douglass and Jon Pinkerton for technical advice and equipment gathering; and of course Al Hughes for coordinating the whole shebang.

* Behind the scenes, thanks to the SASS admin staff, especially Wendy Broom who was helpful at every request no matter how tedious (eg writing out 100 receipts by hand).

* Donna Crotty facilitated the design of our Aquarius and Beyond poster and program cover via her Designing for the Digital Space Unit; and great work by Scott Eagleton for the winning design.

* Aquarius and Beyond was a financial success (ie we broke even – maybe a bit better than that) and this would not have been possible without the in–kind support of the School of Arts and Social Science (thanks Prof. Mike Evans), and the financial support of the Byron Shire Echo, Echonetdaily, the Research Centre for Tourism, Leisure and Work, and the Centre for Peace and Social Justice.

* We had some excellent media coverage. Many thanks to Sharlene King for coordinating all that; to Simon Haslam and Graham Askey and The Echo for the most amazing set of lead up articles; and to Catherine Marciniak at ABC Open for collaborating with us.

* It is hard to describe the atmosphere of welcome we had in Nimbin. Benny Zable and Katie Cawcutt included us in the Nimbin Aquarius Foundation calendar and promoted us online; Benny Zable spent Wednesday evening and night festooning an otherwise drab hall with his huge banners; Michael Balderstone from the Hemp Embassy brought us a complete set of lounges and a coffee table for our relaxed and comfortable stage area; Harsha Prabhu and Graeme Batterbury set up their Rainbow Dreaming exhibition to add life to the back of the hall; Nat Meyer from the Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre helped promote our event locally, along with Peter Wise from the Chamber of Commerce, and the Nimbin Good Times; and of course, David Hallett and Tony at the Nimbin Hall.

* We had a great bunch of presentations that were more than ably chaired in a rubber-time environment. Special thanks to all those people. Special thanks to: Lismore Mayor Cr Jenny Dowell for starting us off in conversation with Aquarius Festival organisers Johnny Allen and Graeme Dunstan; Dr Jo Kijas and Mandy Hale for carefully organising, respectively, a panel of long-time locals and young Aquarian women; Johnny Allen for putting together an intimate retrospective for the dinner on Thursday night; and to Paul Joseph, Graeme Dunstan and Benny Zable for facilitating an organic closing ceremony the likes of which rarely grace (but should) an academic conference.

* I have left someone out. My apologies – let me know.

Thanks everyone – it was a lot of fun, it was informative, we learnt a lot, it was a communiversity.

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