Bellingen Shire Learning Alliance (BSLA) founding member, and the chairperson of the Centre for Ecological Learning Lisa Siegel is coordinating activities for Bello Winter Music Festival’s Bello LeaF festival – an environmentally focused program of talks, workshops and education running concurrently with the music program.
What was the vision for Bello LeaF?
Bellingen is an amazing community full of changemakers and eco-teachers. We wanted to be able to share our knowledge, skills, and passion with more people, both from within our community and from farther afield. The Bello LeaF (Learning Festival) gives us the opportunity to offer a wide range of workshops, forums, and tours that showcase our community’s innovative environmental and sustainability groups, initiatives, and projects.
How well do environment-focused groups work together usually? How is this a unique opportunity for them to reach a broader audience?
We can’t answer for other communities, but here in Bellingen we have been working together really well for the past eight years. Transition Bellingen originally got everyone together to meet every few months to network and share stories. This eventually morphed into the BSLA. As an alliance with a dozen or so member groups, we can share publicity resources and reach a much bigger audience than each individual group can by itself. And of course, as an alliance we can work with wonderful initiatives such as the Bello Winter Festival and present events such as the very exciting Bello LeaF.
How is the music and environmental focus matched? How are environmental values are reflected in programming over Bellofest?
Of course we would be happy if the artists played lots of songs with eco messages but not sure if that is the point. We are really looking forward to the River Songs concert on Sunday though.
The Bello Winter Festival crew has been so warm and wonderful in helping us create the LeaF. So many environmental values are reflected through the BWF – first of all, that it is a small festival that takes advantage of local venues and existing equipment rather than creating the need for a bunch of new expensive stuff. That is green economics right there!
The Bello LeaF of course is all about ‘environmental values’. We have local experts exploring all sorts of topics from beekeeping to Gumbaynggirr language and native plants to shifting consciousness!
Can you tell me about some of the unique workshops on offer?
Oh dear, they are all unique! Well, two workshops that probably are not usually included in a regular festival lineup would be Primitive Fire Making (Friday at 1–2.30pm, meet on the north side of Lavenders Bridge. Have you ever wanted to make fire just using sticks and skill? This is your chance! Bushman extraordinaire Andrew Turbill, assisted by young people from Bellingen EYE, will guide you in the spirit of matchless fire making. Brought to you by Centre for Ecological Learning. Registration essential at cel.org.au.) and How Green is God? (Saturday 12–1pm at the Little Red Kitchen. Judaism, Christianity and Islam share a collection of scriptures that begin with God’s relationship to Earth. But what then? How do they think God sees Earth, and perhaps more importantly, how do they think God’s followers should live on Earth? Do they encourage or undermine eco-friendly living, or both? Brought to you by Uniting Earth Ministries. More info at ecofaith.org.)
But then there is the Winter Beekeeping Workshop, and the Gumbaynggirr Language workshop, and three different forums – All We Need is a Radical Shift in Consciousness…, A Healthy River is a Happy River, and The Future of Food! It is unique and all too exciting!
How do people’s small actions affect our larger impacts on the planet?
Well, we like to ascribe to the ‘butterfly effect’: ‘In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state’. In other words, a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world can influence a hurricane on the other side of the world weeks later! So we keep going with our small actions every day. And once in a while throw in a larger action such as the Bello LeaF.
How can people get involved in Bello LeaF?
Just please come along to whatever events you fancy; bring your friends, and spread the word.