Do you know how Alfred Nobel (of Nobel Peace Prize fame) made his fortune? Have you ever noticed when you fill a form out, the tick boxes always list Mr. Miss. Ms. Mrs.? (And so what, you ask?) Have you ever met an older gent (let’s call him Bruce) that, after a lifetime in business, suddenly channels his energy into the community, saying, “Oh, it was time to give back?” Why is this relevant?
These are just some of the thought-provoking, unexpected, and super important topics we covered at the Newkind 2020 Conference earlier this year.
My name is Farley, I do the sustainability things at SuperFeast HQ. I am also privileged to look after all our eco projects and was delighted to represent SuperFeast at this heart-opening, challenging, questioning-of-the-status-quo gathering of 500 change makers. We addressed some pretty deep and painful realities.
First things first: why is this relevant for SuperFeast, a tonic herb biz? Because we are human. Because we give a sh*t. Because we care deeply for ourselves, our community, our planet. We are huge on sovereignty and have big hearts. You can check out some of our initiatives behind the scenes here. So now that’s out of the way...
Who Are Newkind?
A bunch of absolute legends, that's who.
Newkind Conference is for "social change, designed to inspire and empower you to effectively address the social, environmental and economic issues we face as a global society."
This 'conference' was/had/used:
- 100% powered by renewable energy
- ZERO waste
- Composting toilets
- We slept in tents
- 100% plant-based meals
- Food was cooked using 'Biogas' (a gas made from the decomposition of organic matter)
- Run by volunteers and is a not-for-profit
- The environmental footprint is measured and reported on, post-event
We BYO'd our own cup, plate, and cutlery, and ANY waste/rubbish we may have had, we were asked to take it out of the space with us, so Newkind can accurately measure the impact. We washed up our dishes using an incredible home-crafted wash station. This was nothing like the normal run-of-the-mill festival gathering, like Glastonbury for example, where there are literally tonnes of trash left behind!
Newkind 2020 - can you spot me!
Now trying to make comprehensible sense of the incredible amount of information we were privy too, was sort of like wading through sticky (and very profound, exciting) clouds. We were gifted with several lectures/workshops for 3.5 days back-to-back, it was intense and at times, overwhelming.
Let’s talk about some of the challenges first (and end on a high note of how we can save the planet together :P). Please note, I will be making sweeping statements here, read these ideas, take them with a grain of sea salt, do your research and form your own opinions (AKA be sovereign).
Here are where some of the problems lie:
- Majority of the globe is living high (read: out of control) carbon lifestyles. We are also globally suffering from ‘uncontrollable consumption’ disease. Linda, do you really need that new pair of jeans, taking your total to 7?
- We have "baby men running the Western world" (thanks to Aidan Ricketts for this beautifully worded observation. If you don’t know Aidan’s activism and education work, check him out). This is a huge problem (stating the obvious here, sorry). On the flip side, these baby men are simply a reflection of their anxious, weak, frightened, reactive child self (it may help to soothe any annoyance you have at world leaders by imagining them as helpless children, à la Louise Hay)
- Alfred Nobel’s riches were from dynamite. One of the most prestigious, world-acclaimed medals for PEACE, has the face of the man who created dynamite, a material that significantly changed the face of war. Gets you thinking...
- Australia has a lot of work to do in not only acknowledging the atrocities which occurred during the colonisation period but taking steps to rebuild the respect and connection with our First Nations people. If you are reading this article, you are benefiting from colonisation. And the injustices which occurred way back when continue to do so today to our indigenous custodians of this land. I’m talking political deception, government greed, stolen wealth, police brutality to name a few…
Linton Burgess, Palawa Man, during the breathtaking Newkind Welcome To Country
- There’s a global psychosis occurring, it’s a disconnect from the earth. Westerners especially seem to view the self and nature as two very distinct and separate beings. This is a huge issue. Have you noticed as the planet suffers, chronic disease increases? It’s all a reflection of each other.
- Following from point #5, there are too many of us that view the natural world as a commodity.
- We have inherited so many arbitrary, archaic frameworks that we live by, daily. Many of these structures are invisible frameworks of patriarchy. There are thousands of examples, one of them is the tick boxing on an admin form. Why 1. Is the Mr always listed first? And 2. The female must state her marital status, yet the male doesn’t? Perhaps this system was relevant decades ago, but now is antiquated and patriarchal.
- Remember Bruce, who began giving back in his twilight years? His response suggests there is a separation of doing good and time. News flash Bruce: we don’t have time for this approach. To separate these two elements is to separate ourselves from nature. Impossible (and yet we keep doing it, see point 5!).
- We’ve got simultaneous crises unfolding at the moment: see points number 1 and 2, the climate is warming, ecological systems are breaking and no one seems to have answers.
And here's the good news...
In no particular order:
- The rise of getting back to basics, reuse, repurpose, repair, and wear until it’s holey and patchworked is the new cool. Try it. Along with buying what you need, not what you want. Try that too (here’s looking at you, Linda).
- Once we remember we are nature, then protection is obvious. Protection of self becomes protection of Mother Earth, we won’t need to think about it. How do we summon up these memories, this knowing that we've always had, since birth? Enter buzzword: connection. Connection to self, the earth, and community.
- Re: point number 7 above, we do have some answers regarding the earth's current imbalances... Have you seen the 2040 movie? What a positive, uplifting take on our future, providing us with a hopeful and possible range of solutions to help us, help our Mother find homeostasis. The solutions *are* out there.
- Economics could hold part of the answer. What we desperately need is ‘true economics’, we need to pay what an item truly costs. Take a bottle of water for example. The cost of the materials used, the manufacturing, the collection of the water, the damage to the environment which occurred during the extraction of water, the labour involved, the cost of paying below fair standard wages to the labour, the cost of flying the product thousands of km across the globe, the cost of appropriate disposal of the finished water bottle… all of a sudden, the $2 water bottle now costs $17. Still going to buy it?
- Speaking of the economy – share-based economies are popping up left, right, and centre. No, not necessarily on the governmental scale that is required but locally. Try finding options in your local community; individuals and organisations who are disrupting the archaic and domineering traditional frameworks.
Sovereignty: this word and its varied applications kept arising, from day one as Frank Leone took to stage wearing his ‘self sovereignty’ t-shirt
- A brilliant activation from the rise of the social media monster is the interest in expressing and sharing that “I am a conscious consumer.” Individuals are proud and empowered to show that they care because caring is cool. I mean, who has ever been inspired to share images of their toilet paper wrapped in plastic from Woolies? Enter Who Gives A Crap. This rising age of purpose-driven business has seen consumers become engaged and excited to share businesses doing good.
- For those of us who feel a little uneducated around our First Nations people, it’s time to get educated. Start with The Uluru Statement of the Heart. Read the statement in full and I dare you to not get goosebumps. Thomas Mayor explained to us the importance of this dialogue and how the Statement essentially asks for constitutional reforms to allow our First Nation people a voice to be heard where it matters. You can pledge your support for this Statement here and read more about this issue here, in an article penned by Thomas.
- Humans are by nature very creative and entrepreneurial; in times of crisis, we can shine. Let’s consider this example: the stationery company makes 30mill but has 27mill dollars worth of environmental waste and damage. If governments required said company to cover these costs, then said company would find other, more ecologically minded ways to make a profit. (Well aware this one requires systemic government reform, but hey, trying to look on the positive).
- Local. Local. Local. As our dear friend Helena (check out her phenomenal work at Local Futures) implores, we must decentralise. We simply must shorten distances (for everything!) to become more transparent. Can you picture this: our arms are so long now that we can’t see what our hands are doing. So what is to be done? Go local wherever you can. This is the easiest and most manageable with your food. Contact your community. Say hey. Get involved. Connect, educate, resist, renew and celebrate. We had her on the SuperFeast podcast, listen to her wise words here.
The beautiful Helena Norberg-Hodge
- And speaking of food. Creating resilient food systems is smart. What does this mean? It means having nourishing, wholesome food available and accessible in times of drought. In times of never-before-seen hail. In times when delivery trucks are unable to deliver due to fires. In times when meat is contaminated with a virus. In times when the world is contaminated with a virus! These issues have and continue to occur, so upping our collective ecological literacy and getting our hands dirty (do you grow your own veggies?), going local, and supporting your community by purchasing fresh produce from your area is key.
Start the kiddies young, getting into the planting!
Some final ponderings...
Having a belief in the inherent nobility of humankind brings us to a level playing field and it is this belief that will drive us forward, together as a community, striving for spiritual evolution and tangible change. At the end of it all, all life on our planet exists to serve the rest, so asking the question "How can I serve better?" is critical. Also, it feels good working together to create a better future. So for the feel-good selfish reasons, do it.
I was impressed and humbled by the significant number of young adults at this meeting of change-makers and feel buoyed for the future. These young adults are living as nature does; giving and serving, without expectations of getting things in return. I mean, what a privilege it is to live in this very moment, we get to be the generation that makes change. It will require determination, persistence, and belief. Of course, hope too. Hope is stronger than fear and importantly, stronger than the voice that says “what difference can I make?” (thanks to Saskia Rysenbry of Precious Plastic for this reminder).
So with a critical eye (as we question the status quo) and a loving gaze (as we connect with our brothers and sisters), I encourage you to all remember we are in this together.
*I’m very aware there are a gazillion other pressing issues at hand, as well as compounding factors, plus other solutions. These are simply some of my musings from the jam-packed lectures back-to-back. Let me know what you think farley (at) superfeast.com.au
*Some images are taken from Newkind
FINALLY, if you're interested in heading to Newkind in the future, here is the link. You won't regret going.