7 Aug 2007
All Aboard the Eco Ark!
Just 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.
It 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.
During 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.
It 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.