Newkind 2019 / by Richard Lawless

Described as a masterclass for social change, Newkind festival is a 5-day gathering bringing together people from all walks of life with a shared desire to bring about the change we need in these times.

Held at the Marion Bay Falls festival site on the East coast of Tasmania, Newkind is a volunteer run, not for profit event. Run on renewable energy, plant based meals included, zero waste, completely drug and alcohol free.

The programme consists of discussion panels, lectures, workshops and skill development sessions across themes of economics, education, environment, health and arts, with time set aside for morning practices and evening entertainment.

Erfan Daliri, the brainchild behind Newkind.

Musk Lorikeet, Glossopsitta concinna. Only found in South Eastern Australia. They eat mainly pollen and nectar from eucalypts using their specialised brush-tipped tongues. Declines in populations have occurred due to the clearance of eucalypts for agriculture, but they benefit from plantings in towns.

Marion Bay, a short walk from the festival site

Hoda Afshar speaks with Behrouz Boochani live from Manus Island detention centre. Behrouz is an Iranian-Kurdish journalist, human rights defender, poet and film producer. He was born in western Iran and has been held on Manus Island since 2013. His memoir, No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, won the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Nonfiction. The book was tapped out on a mobile phone in a series of single messages over time and translated from Persian into English by Omid Tofighian.

There were questions about Boochani’s eligibility for both prizes because entrants had been previously limited to Australian citizens or permanent residents, but he was given an exemption by prize administrators and the judges were unanimous in recognising its literary excellence. Wheeler Centre director Michael Williams said that the judges thought that the story of what’s happening on Manus Island essentially is an Australian story, and that “made it completely consistent with the intention of the awards”.

One of his key messages was the power of individual action through art and free expression - his story is an inspiring and tangible example of this.

Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos, Calyptorhynchus funereus

Shallie Campbell

They be watching over us

Powerful and revolutionary spoken word artist, Anisa Nandaula.

With the continual inundation of bad news, feelings of powerlessness, depression, pain and anxiety arise all too easily. These are healthy responses to a planet that is suffering, her sense organs are functioning as we feel the messages loud and clear. The anguish we feel is a symptom of our collective experience. The clear-felling of forests hurts like skin being peeled back, the injection of coal seam gas wells like needles puncturing our flesh. The dispossession and injustice around the world shakes our false sense of security in our insulated western existence.

As we awaken to our deep interconnectedness with this planet and each other, change is catalysed both individually and collectively. Sometimes it happens spontaneously where an insight takes us down a different path, sometimes through crisis where we are pushed off the cliff edge.

And in that moment of change lies great potential as we are offered the chance to start fresh. The unknowing and unlearning of everything we thought we knew creates a space where new ways of living arise. I feel humanity as a whole is stepping, or falling into that space now. In these empty spaces we get the chance to call upon our creativity, to find the threads left hanging on, those that bring us joy and take us back to our essence.

Be it creating music or art, working with our hands, raising children, planting food, creating community, taking care of our elderly or sharing our experience. Those actions that bring us joy are the ones that will pull us forward. The ones that will reconnect us and create new systems in the process. We don’t need to understand how, to begin by following our joy is enough. Those actions are our gift through which we give back. They are the healing of both ourselves and our planet.

It was a joy to experience and photograph Newkind 2019. To be alongside others whilst feeling the world’s pain allows us to know we are not alone in this. To hear the stories and actions of others provides inspiration to move forward when the path isn’t clear.

Thank you Erfan for heeding the call, for creating such a potent yet safe space. Thank you to all who attended and contributed in your own unique way, and for continuing to heal, give and create.

In gratitude,