Newkind left me beaming. A foreign feeling from the usual comedown associated with a 5 day festival.
What’s more, this was my first drug and alcohol free festival.
Truth be known, I generally tend to give festivals a good nudge, even with my newfound mindful approach to alcohol over the past few years I still enjoy tipping more than a few in.
I’ve been to festivals of different kinds all over the world and this was, hands down, the one I’ve walked away from with the most inspiration.
But you’re probably asking what I would have three weeks ago…
1) What the Funk is Newkind?
2) How can a five day festival on a farm in Tasmania with no artificial stimulants have blown my fucking mind?
Well, here are the answers and I hope they ignite the froth in you to explore more alternate gatherings, engage the leap muscle and maybe even come to Newkind with me next year.
1) What the Funk is Newkind?
I picked up a phone call from my buddy Sara 3.5 weeks ago.
“Hey dude, want to join me at a gnarly festival for changemakers that explores all the things?”
This language might not make sense unless you know Sara, but ‘gnarly festival’ and ‘all the things’ essentially means you have to come as there will be art, food, future of work, permaculture, movement, alternative meditation, neo-tribalism and heaps more.
Without hesitation, I said “I’m getting a flight, I’m in.”
To give context as to why I was so quick to say yes:
In 2016, Sara began the Fuckgiving movement by donating her birthday to giving more fucks. Meaning instead of receiving gifts, her friends and family would give Sara the ultimate present - We would give a fuck (in our own way) to make the world a better place.
People planted trees, cleaned up schools, made art from rubbish that was featured in the NY Times! Crossing 30 countries and affecting about 10k+ people this officially launched the Fuckgiving movement.
My gift was to quit my job in the UK. It was jamming me for inspiration so I moved back to Australia to focus on my purpose and 101 Tokens.
I’m now happier than ever, so naturally I’m pretty confident on taking Sara’s advice on things that will lead to radness.
What’s more, we were going to be delivering the closing Newkind workshop along with our ethical mortgage broker buddy and founder of AB finance Andy ‘Doc’ Bakonyi.
The topic: ‘WTF do we do now?’
You know the deal. You go to awesome festivals and creative events bursting with inspiration. You return home. And the moment you get back to your desk the sense of loss hits and the shitty deadlines begin to scream at you…
So to hack this, the plan was to ask how we — as individuals — could take forward what we had learnt at Newkind into the “real world”.
Now that I’d bought a one-way ticket to Tassie and was sitting back at my computer, I decided to do a little research into this adventure.
What had I got myself into?
A few clicks and I hit this video.
If you skipped the video, Erfan Daliri, the Director of Newkind, had become disillusioned. There were so many people trying to fix the present fuck-ups and those of generations past and it felt like we were banging our collective head against the wall.
He asked the universe and at the end of four gruelling days he had been given a sign from a higher power. A sign to start a narrative for a better world and invite others like him to write the next chapter. Those next chapters would be formulated or accelerated at Newkind.
Erfan was guiding us on a path, or the term that recently came to me while meditating on my favourite beach, he was building ‘stepping stones to heal the world.’
2) How can a five day festival on a farm in Tasmania with no artificial stimulants have blown my fucking mind?
Believe it or not - My first thought was I don’t belong…
After the short flight from Sydney and a quick drive into Hobart, we were ready to rip and arrived to the Newkind location/ farm to get setup.
As we were gathered over to the opening ceremony which began with a ‘welcome to country’ from the local indigenous people and a lighting of the sacred fire, I got a strange feeling that I’d had in Mexico about five years earlier.
That feeling was that I didn’t belong.
Lots of people were dressed differently, piercings, tattoos and bare feet. But unlike the cold hippie shoulder that was dropped into my chest in Mexico, something magical happened.
The welcome to country included a fire circle, to pay respects to past, present and future custodians of the land. We all were to wash ourselves with the smoke of the fire and come together. And here was the first person I met outside the comfort of my friends. She was a girl from Melbourne named Spark.
Spark said hello and gave me a massive hug, not a normal hug, a proper hug. It might not seem like much, but that was the moment I realised that I was welcome. My feelings of not belonging were just my own insecurities. And working on myself and these short-falls was something that would become a core part of my experience.
What’s more, I also had two amazing new friends who made up the five of us in our camp.
And Laura, a gal with a massive heart who is a leading positive impact strategist by trade. She’s currently a director with Spark Strategy but also heading off to Nepal to empower local women who are still recovering from the earthquake.
5 Days — 5 Realisations.
Home is where your heart is
A lot of my time at the festival was spent wandering. There was a timetable, but from my very first experience to my last I found myself cruising to wherever I felt drawn.
The most important stage for me was the ‘Fireside’.
Exactly how it sounds — a fire with stumps and logs to side on around the sides. It’s the place humans have been congregating since as far back as we have records and we don’t need to go into how powerful staring into a fire is.
I’d heard of a bush tucker man who had led a morning bushwalk and luckily stumbled across his workshop.
And who would’ve thought that I’d be on a farm in Tasmania, sitting around a fire with a bloke from home— The Central Coast.
And Jake Cassar wasn’t just a bloke, or just a bush tucker man. He’d been responsible for over ten years of activism to save Central Coast bushlands, sanctuaries and rainforests. He was a Central Coast hero.
Like many kids growing up on the Coast he had a bit of a tough time with school, but counteracted this with his love of the wilderness. Through his teens he spent more and more time learning from local indigenous community members and from the land itself — spending days on end living up in the bush and fending for himself, with just his mates (the animals) for company. This was where he found himself and the answers to what he was put on earth to do.
I hadn’t cried for about 10 years previous to being around this fire, but hearing the battle he undertook when in his words “Fought to save the land that saved his life.” I cracked a tear and an epiphany, my fire was lit.
A lot of kids on the Central Coast grow up and take for granted what we had, some of the world’s best beaches, rainforests and animals. A lot of us move away — I did.
But thanks to Jake and the activists who blocked the industry bodies, councils and government (jamming billions of dollars worth of dirty revenue) we have an opportunity to show our kids the same beauty that we got to see.
Jake spends his time now working with the youth and other peoples at risk by telling stories and guiding them back to nature. He says, going back into the bush is a chance for him and others “to sharpen their sword” before returning to suburban living.
The Newkind festival was an opportunity for us all to sharpen our swords and thanks to Jake, my motivation to help the land and people that gave me so much has been swung back into the forefront of my attention — Thanks Mate!
Meditation is everywhere
I’ve been practicing meditation for about two years now. Truth be known, I was shit at it. I was terrible at keeping a routine and always felt like I wasn’t getting it.
What Newkind taught me was that we have an abundance of opportunities to practice and getting it isn’t the most important thing.
I don’t need to be setup in a private place to do it or have all of the elements perfect. Sure I love doing it alone on the beach, but a lot of the time we don’t get the luxury.
Three gamechanging moments:
Qigong (Chi -Gung):
Early on the first morning I saw a crew of happy weirdos wiggling their hips in circles and I thought, I am also a happy weirdo — this is for me.
I’d only ever seen old Asian people practicing in central parks, but man they always looked cool.
The class was taught by Jessica, who had been practicing for 15+ years.
I was fortunate enough to hang out with Jessica throughout the festival. Her outlook on life for beginning every day with ‘meeting yourself’ is epic . This means every morning when you wake up you need to make sure you do something for you. This seems so obvious, but I’d never framed it like this, it was profound.
A lot of the time we fly out of bed, shower, straight into work and serving someone else. Serve yourself first — then when you serve others it will be coming from a place of fulfilment, nourishment and happiness.
For me this could be surfing, writing, playing piano, Chi-gung or mediation. As long as I meet myself I’m good to go.
A good hack for this is no social media or internet till you have said G’day to yourself, try it! ;)
One night it was pissing rain and there were about 60 of us chilling under a canopy and in the ‘new experience’ mode I was in, I thought I’d have a crack at a singing circle.
I was weirded out initially. The songs go for about 15–20mins but after a few deep breathes I managed a powerful meditation without singing.
For the next one I thought I’d try both.
Turned out it was really hard, so I just focused on the singing. I even busted out a line when we were passing the mic and doing some back and forth.
This gave me the confidence by the third song to just go with it. I tapped into an ability to change pitch while still within the rhythm without really trying. My music teacher Rob would be frothing when he finds out.
What a fucking experience!
Will I seek these singing circles out? Probably not. But the real gift was to be able to accept noise and meditate through it, maybe even join in.
So if you see me with my eyes closed on the bus I might be back in Tassie humming a tune with the legends.
Don’t get too gnarly:
I stumbled upon a tepee one arvo.
I was chilling inside and there was a small fire and some chanting. I was pretty deep into meditation before I realised my breathing wasn’t great.
I opened my eyes to see I couldn’t see! More smoke than a rasta-convention.
Lesson: Meditation is cool, but don’t have an asthma attack because of it.
Taming the Meat Sweats
The entire festival was vegan and the food was amazing to say the least. We were fed three times a day and as much as we could handle. I’ve cut back my meat consumption for both environmental and personal health reasons, but I thought I might struggle.
This wasn’t the case.
The majority of people I spoke to were vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian, but in a place where there are so many strong opinions and beliefs I was surprised that there wasn’t more heated encounters. I put this down to the nature of everyone being more up for a discussion than a battle.
However, I did find some of the rhetoric from the vegan activists polarising. Unwillingness to truly invite discussion, their agendas was so far up in a corner that they were even alienating other vegans. They reminded me a bit of a motorcycle gang, probably nice people at heart, but give off unapproachable vibes.
Renegade movements have had profound success in the past while they’ve also been complete disasters. In an environment where the level-up mentality was one discussed at length, their attitude of go vegan or bust was hard to digest. One day I may go vegan, I never say never. But it won’t be to join them.
The Silver Lining is that it inspired me to work harder to do my part in the evolution of our food consumption. The first message I sent when I turned my phone back on was to fire up a conversation with a friend on how to tackle this.
More to come at the end of 2018, watch this space.
The emotions of Men
In a society where we are brought up to be tough macho men. To suppress our feelings and show a brave face, Newkind was an opportunity to let down my guard.
And coming from a blokey bloke who loves footy and the pub, this was against the hops and grain.
About a year before I’d been introduced to the concepts of a men’s circle by my buddy Nick, who has a lot to do with the Man Kind Project, but I hadn’t really engaged to give it a go.
Essentially a men’s circle is a bunch of fellas sitting around a fire, swearing to keep whatever is discussed a secret, and supporting each other in whatever comes out.
There’s no topic, no agenda, just an opportunity to be real.
I didn’t think about it untill I reflected, but it actually made me jealous of how women can sit around with their friends and be completely open. I’d seen this as them just being girls hanging out, but now realise the importance of venting and letting shit go.
More powerful still we were around the fire with some of the local indigenous men and we talked about how important opening up around the fire was for them. “Medicine through story” was something they have practiced for thousands of years and it makes so much sense.
I let some pretty heavy shit go and the post- experience had me so high I couldn’t sleep for the next two hours. I wouldn’t know most of the names of the guys around that fire, but if I see them again I’d give them a real hug.
What the Fuck do we do now?
At Newkind there were factions. We got to decide which faction we would be in before arrival. The factions weren’t to divide, but to give a varying perspective on what each brought to the table and how we can interact together with differing skillsets.
There were healers, administrators and farmers to name a few. I joined the scouts as my mission, along with helping people to use mindful practices around drinking, is to find other legends in different fields who can upskill my community.
Who did I scout? Along with Erfan, Jessica and Jake were two of my new best mates!
Kate AKA Plastic Free Mermaid, she gave a cracking workshop and has dedicated her life to teaching the world how to live without plastic in order to save our oceans.
And Birralee, who creates awesome sustainable activewear out of bamboo so we look rad, get fit and save the environment all at the same time. It’s called Solsoya :)
I luckily got to hang out with them for a few days after the festival too
So that was ‘what the fuck I was going to do now’ sorted — but what about the other people and the workshop..?
With 400 Realities all firing at the same time, Sara, Doc and I had to breath it all in before deciding the best way to guide people.
Which is a fancy way of saying we were still finalising the workshop 20 mins before the start. :D
We wanted people to connect back to the stoke they were feeling at this very time after the festival. So we had everyone write down one thing on a postcard that they were going to take with them back to “the real world.”
They then shared that with someone in the workshop they hadn’t met yet.
It was beautiful - lots of hugs, smiles and even tears. The kicker was to have that person then send it to them in the mail at a later date.
Freaking past you sending future you a message in the present! Phwoahhh.
Accountability buddies for life sorted!
We cranked out some other genius but will have to leave those for when you get us to come and run a workshop for your sweet festival ;)
So we all came into Newkind running, but I feel like we left flying.
An ecstacy filled festival would appeal to many, but with no drugs and no alcohol you have to find your own ecstacy and this can be hacked through new experience, finding your tribe and true personal growth.
This hasn’t been easy for me to write.
But as Erfan says, “Get Awkward if you need to.” I have a shit load more people I could have talked about and who deserve a mention. I’m more than happy to talk more about this experience, it gets me buzzing. So just ask next time we’re hangen’ out.
I hope it inspires you to come with me next year. Or look into alternate ways of learning and more importantly alternate ways of doing. As Jake says “I don’t do meetings, I do doings.”
Whether it’s applying mindfulness and connectivity practices to your next work function, or investigating the psychedelic medicinal revolution which is almost upon us, there is an abundance of information out there and people who share your purpose. You just need to engage the leap muscle, get awkward if you need to and follow the stepping stones to heal the world.
Photo Credits: Laura Reed, Birralee Jean, Sally Sunshine, Erfan Daliri, Alex Roberts, Cyn Coco, Benny Wallington