Uncivilisation 2011, The Dark Mountain Festival: Sunday Review

A review of Sunday at Uncivilisation Festival 2011. Time for reflection on veganism, self publishing, emotional care and where to go in the future.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson
Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson.

On Sunday at Uncivilisation the main marquee was packed out for a discussion around where next for Dark Mountain, both the festival and the movement. Dark Mountain was started by two writers as a literary endeavour and as it attracts many interested newcomers from different fields it is inevitably straining at the seams. Thus it was good that this conversation was held in the round, allowing many voices to be heard equally, contributing constructive and helpful suggestions.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

uncivilisation-jim-design
Uncivilisation by James Clarkson of Jim Design.

Founders Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth are happy to admit that they are two very fraught men, trying incredibly hard to maintain their core philosophies whilst struggling with the infrastructure and admin of Dark Mountain. ‘Basically we are two guys going broke and mad… with a few volunteers.’ Now they need to decide just how much they are willing to let go in order to allow Dark Mountain the space it needs to grow.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Sam Duckworth of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. who played on Friday evening.

Between festival goers there is conflict between how that should happen: it was clear that many would like to see more of a concrete movement for change, whilst others relish the looseness of a gathering that allows for new conversations and stories that may not find space elsewhere. For my part I think that any future Uncivilisation should allow for the exploration of emotional and physical ideas that may be nebulous to the intellect: giving a space for new ways of thinking to flourish.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
the visitors - rima staines
The Visitors by Rima Staines.

At this year’s event my friend Zoe Young held a sacred space in her Bright Valleys workshop. Those I met who attended this were very thankful, and I highly recommend that you read Zoe’s thoughts on the Dark Mountain experience in her excellent blog.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory. zoe young
Zoe Young with Chanterelles.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
I decided to instead attend an unscheduled talk from Simon Fairlie – author of Meat: A Benign Extravagance – on how veganism and the industrial livestock farming system are converging. He envisages a future where to be a vegan is to live as unsustainably and technologically removed from the land as those who eat mass factory farmed food products. I can easily believe it.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

I’ve heard Simon speak several times and his writings are always incredibly interesting: George Monbiot and many others listen to him because not only does he exercise his intellect but he also walks the walk: farming the land at Monkton Wyld Court to demonstrate his theories.

Dark mountains by Thomas Bird
Dark Mountains by Thomas Bird.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

I rounded up my time at Uncivilisation with a talk by John Mitchinson, a writer for QI and founder of Unbound, which is a new way to crowd fund books without going through the usual rigmarole of publishing. It was fascinating to hear from someone who used to work in mainstream publishing and intimately knows the problems facing the industry. Of course it was especially interesting to myself, as someone who has self-published and knows just how bloody hard it is to stay afloat.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Benny Wenda by Caroline Pratt
Benny Wenda by Caroline Pratt.

This unfortunately meant that I missed a talk from Benny Wenda and author Jay Griffiths, who spoke about the struggles of local peoples against corporations in West Papua. It was by all accounts incredibly moving.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

We finished Uncivilisation with a farewell folk song before everyone dispersed into the afternoon sunshine. The festival provided a great focal meeting point for like minded people; enabling me to reconnect with old friends and make new acquaintances. It also reminded me that there are many people, all over the world, who are tackling different but related ideas around life beyond collapse. And that we must continue reaching out to include more people from all parts of society in the discussions that we are having.

Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011 - Dougald Hine
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011  Paul Kingsnorth
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

As Alabaster Crippens says in his blog: ‘Nobody has many answers about what to do next apart from look after yourself, pay attention, listen to stories, tell your stories, and learn how to live with less.’ There is so much more to do but creating understandable narratives is undoubtedly at the heart of what the Dark Mountain movement can contribute. Although I say it with some trepidation I look forward to what the future brings.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
The Hexayurt, a cheaply built shelter for use in disaster zones.

Don’t forget to check in with Saturday’s review of Uncivilisation too! Musician Marmaduke Dando has also written an interesting blog.

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One Response to “Uncivilisation 2011, The Dark Mountain Festival: Sunday Review”

  1. [...] have a two-part series in Amelia’s Magazine, which reports separately on the Saturday and the Sunday of the festival. The reports are accompanied by some excellent photos and illustrations, including [...]

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