Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

7 Aug 2007

All Aboard the Eco Ark!

ea1Just back from the wonderful **Big Green Gathering**, so many things to write about and share, but I’ll start with one of the things that really impressed me, the Eco Ark (alternatively the Junk Boat). One of the wonderful things about festivals such as the BGG is the creativity they unleash, people who put a huge amount of time into creating things that just exist during the festival. On the Friday night I was walking back to my tent in the early hours, and came across a boat, complete with sails and rigging, sat in the field, full of people sitting chatting by candlelight. I passed by and went to bed that night, my mind racing with thoughts about how anyone got a boat to Cheddar, why on earth would they, and what an extraordinary thing it was to do. The next day I inspected it closer.

ea2It turned out that the Eco Ark was put together by a group called Recycled Venues who make structures for festivals out of recycled materials. The skeleton of the Ark was made off site and brought with them, and the rest made with recycled materials from onsite. The cabin had a turf roof, and photovoltaic panels to power the sound system and the lights, and the Ark was in near-constant use during the 5 days of the festival.

ea3During the day it served as a hangout space, and for meetings, and in the evening, it became one of the most popular venues for music and dancing. Sometimes a band would play on the deck and revellers would dance around it, sometimes the band and the audience were all on the boat… it was intimate yet able to contain a surprising amount of people. When everything else finished and the curfew on music had put all the big stages to bed, there would often be something happening at the Eco Ark.

ea4It was an amazing creation. Wonderful to see that, with imagination, an idea, a team of creative people, something so engaging and delightful could be created which became such a centrepiece of the festival. It could even be covered in case it rained! As a complete aside, on the Friday, the heavens opened and it rained for a few hours. Understandably nervous, we turned on the local Bristol radio station for a weather forecast. This, after the wettest June and July on record, and large swathes of the Midlands still drying out after the floods which put climate change on most peoples radars. The weather was sponsored by a local 4X4 dealer and the jingle ran “for all your new and used 4X4 needs, whatever the weather”. Oh the irony.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Josef Davies-Coates
7 Aug 3:58pm

Hi Rob,

Was nice to meet you in person at BGG 🙂

Any chance you could post up a copy of your presentation slides? (perhaps using



Cath Blakey
7 Aug 8:09pm

Hi all,

Yes, the junk boat was great fun.
Along with the turf-roofed slanty wheel-house/DJ decks booth, i loved the drink bottles filled with different shades of beetroot-coloured water.

I attended the environmental economics discussion, as well as popping by the recycled fashion make session, and boogying on down to some rollicking disco.


8 Aug 8:48am

Rob, thanks for your words of positivity! The Junk Boat has been an amazing process of collaboration and discovery. One of the most rewarding aspects of space/sculpture/stage is that people have felt free to use it, jump on it, lay down on it, shout things from it: its uses are as many as its users. The boat has become a multi-use space that symbolises many things to many people. Conceived as “an ark” initially – we wanted to use a boat as a vessel to carry and float all the skills, knowledges, trappings of sustainable living. All sorts of interesting concepts cluster around the symbol of a boat: orientation, resourcefulness, co-operation – many things we need in our current planetary predicament. We moved away from calling it an “ark” as we didn’t want to evoke images of desperate survivalism. Boat, ark, junk, whatever – it has definately resonated with a lot of people. Thanks for coming aboard everyone! We’ll be sailing to Shambala festival next: 24th – 26th August

8 Aug 4:55pm

Another junk boat member here, just wanted to add a plug for our website:

We had a wonderful time at the Big Green, and I’m feeling totally inspired that positive change is possible by collaborative play. Thanks to everyone who came aboard and joined in the fun!
8 Aug 8:24pm

[…] time visiting family in norfolk and then at the big green gathering which was wonderful as always. rob has a great post about the pirate ship. as a lover of beer and cider, and a supporter of the climate camp a highlight for me was the last […]

Tom Atkins
8 Aug 8:38pm

The junk boat was indeed a highlight. Here are a couple of shots of a night-time party aboard! (Note the wind turbine, far right of the first picture, which helped power the 12v system)

Great to see you and all the family at the BGG… there’s also a great post about the last chance saloon on Indymedia – another highlight for me – although the vegan cider did make things a bit blurry 😉

Dirty Ali DJ
15 Aug 7:03pm

I loved this ship too – pls visit my blog for another sort of gig

michael kaieteur
25 Mar 11:57pm

Both myself and my son enjoyed this ‘rockin’ pirate ship! Good fun.