Celebration and interactive learning, a pioneering concept: This Re-Generation Festival is the first event of its kind that leaves the land its based on more rich, fertile and abundant than before. Unlike mainstream festivals where festival grounds remain trashed, or even Burning Man events that leave the land ‘without a trace’, Re-Generation Festival exists to regenerate the soil, souls and society of the land around it. The name Re-Generation is a play on words, signifying the involvement of all generations of people to come together to revitalise the earth and themselves but of course, it is also a party!
The first festival took place in the semi abandoned village in the south of Spain called La Junquera, Murcia, 3km away from the site of our first camp, Camp Altiplano. La Junquera is situated on a stunning steppe, 1,100 metres above sea level, with deep blue skies, rare birds soaring overhead, and a night sky so rich you can see the milky way. It is a unique place due to the purpose of the people that live there. All of its 20 something inhabitants reside in this remote place with the intention of regenerating the ecosystems around them. La Junquera is part of a spanish association named Alvelal, which is a collaboration of local farmers who are on the journey from industrial to regenerative farming (see www.alvelel.es). It is also the location of the first Ecosystem Restoration Camp, an initiative sparked by John D. Liu, globally renowned ecosystem restoration ambassador (see www.ecosystemrestorationcamps.org). The purpose of the camp is to welcome people from all over the world to learn about and implement regenerative techniques in agricultural and natural ecosystems in the region.
The combination of all of these initiatives is what sparked the festival idea, as the organisers, representing a range of regenerative organisations and projects, wanted to create a celebration of our ability to regenerate our world and re-connect with nature.
Over 400 people from around the world attended the festival, which started with a restoration activity each morning. These activities took people to different parts of the land that were degraded, and gave people the information, tools and plants needed to restore that area. 3,000 plants were planted, from oak trees to juniper bushes to aromatic herbs, depending on what the soil needed. Music from different styles of musicians, attached to a soundsystem on the back of a pick-up truck, accompanied the planting, coining the term ‘planting to the beat’.
The overarching themes of the festival were those of Metamorphosis, with a giant caterpillar appearing at the beginning of the beautiful opening ceremony. This ceremony saw people picking up water from an ancient roman pond, bless it with a regenerative intention, and empty it into a large ceramic vase, accompanied by the dulcet sounds of a bandolean and flute. At the end of the festival the caterpillar appeared from the cacoon as a butterfly as the festival goers poured the blessed water from the opening ceremony onto a symbolic tree. This transformation signified the metamorphosis of humanity from a species of destruction to one of regeneration, with every one of our actions making our earth more abundant, healthy and alive.
The afternoons were for workshops, in one of the four workshop areas. They ranged from workshops on the health of the soil and the body through plants, the construction of insect habitats, presentations from regenerative practitioners such as a representative from the Syntropic Agriculture movement and the Regeneration Granada project, La Bolina.
The evenings were a raucous party with local spanish musicians and international bands on stage and various DJs.
What this festival has shown the world is that ecological action and hedonism co-exist beautifully, and that people are hungry for a way to have a practical positive impact on the world whilst having the time of their lives. It has also shown that restoring degraded agricultural and natural land has ripple effects that benefit the degraded economies and communities living in these areas. Local shops and restaurants in the dying villages are being given a new lease of life as people pour into what was once a heavily abandoned place.
The age of environmentalism as doom and gloom and bland cabbage soup is over. The age of caring about the earth and doing something about it as sexy, cool and fun is here. Let’s celebrate.
Re-Generation Festivals are already being planned in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. This is just the beginning. Watch this space.