Two years since our last visit to Sunrise, we journey to the site on Thursday afternoon, in eager anticipation and with fond memories – especially of the glorious weather we enjoyed back then.
Having ‘pitched camp’ and imbibed the obligatory ‘brew up’ of tea (my acknowledgement that I have arrived, settled in and switched to festival mode), it was time to set out on the initial reconnaissance…..
First stop – Tin Village! Scan the programme – note all the talks and workshops that are ‘must do’ – make decisions on timing conflicts (annoying!) – look for familiar faces (usual suspects!).
Onwards, around the site – more mental notes of ‘must do’ – more conflicts with timing – more decisions! I wonder if there will be any time left to listen to some music whilst I am here?
First impressions? Somewhat mixed. Although the main attractions are established, other pitches are still being set up – lots of people scurrying around like worker ants in preparation. “Did we remember to bring X?”; “Where did you put Y?”; “Have you seen my Z?”
Ah well! Perhaps best not to interrupt and ask too many questions right now…
Questions – exchanges of ideas – sharing experience, knowledge and wisdom. This is why I go to Sunrise (and of course, to Off Grid).
You see, my main interests are all things ‘Off Grid’ (‘living without reticulated services’ to be posh). Soaking up as much information as I am able to extract from people – to the point of (their) irritation. “How did you do this”? “Why did you that”? “Have you thought about…”?
Secondly, I am active in my local Transition Hub – Transition Poole (part of Transition Bournemouth Hub) and always on the look out for other Transition members; keen to find out what they are up to and for ideas I can plagiarise.
Time to eat…. Need to track down my long suffering wife (Jen); who is already off on a higher (spiritual) plane – make mental note to attend to my own spiritual needs later – too much ‘techie’ stuff to distract me at the moment!
Find Jen – head to Buddhafield café – eat – chill out – search out some friends; and enjoy the music.
Try and remember where I parked the van – locate van after three circuits of the camper-van field in the dark – crash out!
Friday morning early (very early) – can’t wait to start ‘networking’. Why isn’t everybody else up yet? It is 5.30am after all! Another cup of tea then. Some breakfast to pass the time. Right, let’s get started.
First ‘contact’ made! – Pete and Co. from Swansea and their wood-gas fuelled bread oven. So begins the first of several exchanges with them during the next three days. Need to learn all I can about this fascinating approach to extracting energy from scrap wood in an efficient and less polluting manner. It just so happens that they have an interest in bicycle powered generators; something with which I have been involved over the last few months (cycle-powered cinema). This is what I love most about Sunrise and Off Grid; the opportunities that present themselves for two-way exchanges of experiences, knowledge and ideas.
Enthused by what I have learned, my brain is racing with ideas for Off Grid next year. Why wait until next year? Because I am focussed currently on fulfilling a rash promise I have made to help build a (second) pole lathe for a ‘Bodger’ friend in time for Off Grid this year; and, as a result of Sunrise, I also have an idea for a workshop/experiment for Off Grid this year, which I now need to develop.
And so it goes on for three days – workshops, talks, meetings, films. It just gets better and better.
The high spot for me has to be the presentation on ‘Cradle to Cradle’ thinking and the supporting film ‘Waste = Food’.
As a Transitioner, words I hear uttered so frequently are ‘sustainable’ and ‘sustainability’; and suddenly, now, I am hearing that ‘sustainable’ is not good enough! And that consequently, some of our (Transition) focus may be excluding some fundamental challenges? I came away from Sunrise with a resolution to read up on ‘Cradle to Cradle’ thinking and to re-examine my extant ‘beliefs’ and actions.
Linked with this, is a thought which crossed my mind towards the end of Sunrise, that there may be a missing ingredient. This concerns an expression of the possible synergies between the different workshops and talks (This is in line with the Sunrise Vision and Manifesto which talks about holistic systems).
I had already started to identify examples whereby the products/deliverables and sometimes the by-products from one workshop subject might provide the resources and materials for another activity. This has germinated into an idea which presented itself in a metaphorical ‘light bulb’ moment during the ‘Cradle to Cradle’ talk and which I am now pursuing as a possibility for an inclusion at Off Grid.
In summary – I came away from Sunrise feeling privileged in having met many people who gave so freely of their time, energy, knowledge and experience (often with great passion).
And did I fulfil my needs for spiritual nourishment as well?
Yes, on reflection – through a clearer recognition and understanding of the ‘bigger picture’ of the intrinsic connectivity of all things.
Can’t wait for Off Grid!