The second lecture I recorded as part of my research was 'Keeping it Real - Sustainability at Large Scale Events' a lecture which was presented by Andre Soares, the man who is the head of the Boom festival environmental programme.
In the lecture Andre talks about events like Boom festival that are pioneering sustainable technology to make large scale events more harmonious with the environment. The lecture has direct relevant to my dissertation which will discuss the blossoming relationship shared between transformational festivals and sustainability.
The transcribed version of the lecture is available below.
Keeping It Real – Presentation by Andre Soares.
So I didn't choose the name for this presentation, somehow now it sounds a bit overly ambitious since 'reality' is a matter of opinion.
I am responsible in Boom festival to organise a series of events that happen previous to the big event, a series of gatherings of people that get together, they have to think ahead about what they are going to do, they have to execute what they think and plan. They often, during this process ask a question, that at the end of Boom now some of you now might all be asking. I'm sure some people will be coming down from the party by now, and sometimes we ask ourselves, what’s is the point? Is it worth it? All of this, what is the point? Why do we do it? And you got to find an answer for that every time we ask it, we got to resound some sort of answer somewhere, and it might be a different answer here and there, I'm going to try and make three points in this brief time and we just have to put out this seed that you’re going to take out of here. I am going to just try to make three basic points that for me are the real thing in here.
The first thing about the point is the experience, you all came here for a bracket in time, we came here and had an experience, we experienced something. Many people have experience great things, many people have been pushed and poked in different ways, from the outside and from the inside out, and whatever experience they choose to have they had it. Some may have had other types of experiences, they are not so much learning, maybe they are not so much of the outside learning type, but I'm sure that some people are still in the process of now. The inside changed, the inside learning that comes from the experience. So what we are trying to do is to create a space for an experience, that is the first point of why we do it. A space, somewhere on this planet, somewhere there has to be a space where we can gather together art, nature, water, people, beauty and music and let it free, let it express itself. There has to be a place for that. And so, this is the place for us, this is the place we chose, somehow things aligned and it happened here. That experience in itself is a good point for that, because if people that go to that experience and can effect some kind of change, some kind of advancement in this evolutionary cycle that we are in, it was worth it. But was it really? How do we know if the experiences we are creating, so much in a solid mode but also in other dimensions possibly, how do we know that we can continue with that without going backwards in this journey that we are supposed to be engaged in? How do we know that? And that’s where comes the keeping (inaudible) for us, is that there are some basic things that need to be taken care of, and these are not the things that we are doing here just to look nice, or to look good or to appear to be with a trend of thought. They are not these things. These things that we work on are the basic necessities, like self-expression, or the expression of the mind.
We put people together to create some foundation for your experience; this foundation of people and of structures has to be there so you can have that outer experience. There is no point and you should not accept anymore, you should not accept anymore even though you have a transcendent experience in a gathering like this, you should not accept anything less than the basic needs that a human has. But at the same time, there is a challenge for that, we are talking about water, we are talking about food, we are talking about where you sleep and how you are protected, we are talking about all of the energy that goes around the things you need for your experience and we are talking about all of the results from this experience and the things we all leave behind. These things need to be taken care of if we are going to create 'Free Cultural Spaces', more that the very few we already have and we do want more of those, definitely. We will need to get down to the basics in the first place, because we can get enlightened and we can advance and we can evolve our consciousness, but our shit has to stop getting to the clean water. We cannot accept that anymore, it’s basic, its where we started this journey that we are now completing. Ten years in bringing these basic ideas to Boom. One of the things was to use more of what’s under our feet, after all, the whole world is based on mining, the whole world is based on taking things from the crust of the earth and spreading it all over the world indiscriminately and convincing you, and all of us that we need those things. So, what will we start then, from what’s under our feet, to build what we need. It’s one of those basic questions that we need to answer, and at Boom we have experimented with that. Sometimes we have to make compromises, sometimes guilty comes first and sometimes things can gel in some functional element that can be beautiful, can perform a function and can realise that basic necessity.
We have been developing the toilets that you have used this week since 2006, and every year there is another detail that needs to be fine-tuned. Every year they get a little bit better, and they still haven't got there, still not there, but there's still two more years to work on it, to fine tune the details. And that is basic, that’s one to live very clearly that for your experience to be complete, for your experience to be possible, to open up the doors you want it to open to yourself, those basic things need to be resolved. It doesn't make much sense to be illuminated by night and shooting formaldehyde by morning. It doesn't make much sense. I haven't found any; please help me if you know any enlightened beings that can adjust these things. Especially when we do have solutions, especially when the solutions are that simple, it’s that basic. Look after the bottom line. There is nothing more important than that.
So we also expanded this year in many of these areas I was talking about; food, water, energy, and waste control. Obviously, we can't expect to feed 40,000 people from the gardens that we have here, 40,000 very voracious, very hungry people, as we can see from the lines from the restaurant zone. We could put out maybe a message then, that food is here, this is a great food production area, and this is an agricultural zone here where food can be grown in large quantities. We just have to think and discuss a little bit more about how we do it and maybe we can get to the resource we are expecting. This shouldn’t be anything less than 100%. So, these are some of the results that we already have for this year, I don't know if it’s clear you might just be able to just see the details. But, have you seen the news in the 'Dharma Dragon' (Boom newspaper) if you have got one already? We have managed to advance on these things (referring to environmental statistics), there is a certain rational in there. But personally, in terms of my (inaudible), I'm not much into that corporate talk of carbon credits and compensation for our bad deeds. Less of something bad is not necessarily good, so reducing impact is not good enough. Reducing impact is just a way of saying 'OK we will keep on justifying what we do, paint some colours in this and go ahead trying to keep everything as it is' and now we are more self-justified. I don't know if that makes sense, but we need to work out that what we really need to do is to invert impact. We cannot simply do less of a bad thing; we have to do a good thing. We have a garden here; we have to show that people coming here we can make this place better, this small space. Otherwise, what's the point? Otherwise, what was the point of the experience if we didn't contribute to make something better? These are the aspects that we reach for because we are still on the very bottom line of this, and there is so much to progress in terms of Boom. There is such a long journey ahead so many things before we can get to the fine aspects of human coexistence. But we can have that, we have the technology, its available, we have got the knowledge, it’s available.
There is two resources to build these things so we can make a transition to a different reality, a reality that we need to learn how to live with now. So that’s another point in terms of why the festival, it’s some way, somehow to rehearse the future. It’s a way we can experiment with what it is to live in a world where we try to be comfortable with less of what we are used to. Some people think wow, this is great in terms of environmental performance, but I can tell you, all of you have used around fifty litres of water per day while at Boom, which sounds like a lot. Fifty litres of water per day per person sounds like a lot, and it is a lot of water. But when you are back in town you are using around three hundred litres of water per day, so here we manage to cut one sixth of the water we all use. Now yeah, I couldn't have showers of two hours and I had to go to the showers twice because of the times, but was it an injustice to cut the shower times? It wasn't actually, you collaborated very well, it wasn't easy after the second and third day, and we had to negotiate shower closing times. We had to go there and do a bit of a talk to the line people and we also had to be complacent with times. We couldn't be so Germanic in closing the tap, but we tried to be as Germanic as possible with the opening times. Sometimes a small change in a process can create huge, enormous benefits and that was the case with the shower times this year. So I hope that next year, which in Boom a year is two, I hope that next year it’s even easier to close the showers. People are incredibly understanding, and that, that is also a new thing, that is something that we have learned. We have learned to leave because we were adapted to a certain mode of creating to you, and we had to readapt. Every year is the same, every year we have to reinvent with completely new people, completely different. I am not the same person this year and in 2016 if I'm still here, there will be another person as well, we all meet again like new people, and this is the learning and this is the third point of why we need to do a festival. It is because we need to adapt to this new reality, even if its slightly or maybe a lot different to every individual, there are certain aspects of that reality that are bottom line, and they are common to us. These common aspects have to be addressed, and soon.
The last point then is action. On the first day we had a discussion here, also in the emerald village and I found myself saying something which I usually do because I don't prepare very much to speak, and sometimes I say things and I have to think again. But it’s just about action, you know, I have been thinking about it the whole boom that my experience was that how do we express these experiences? How do you bring out all of the discoveries you have had this week? How do you pull out all that amazing wealth of thought...(interrupted by audience member with a hug)
Thank you, thank you, that’s Boom! That's the good thing here you get all the hugs. So, at the end there is a vision, it might vary to each one of us, and if we are going to try and put together this vision into one package we are not going to get it. We are not going to get it because we are so unique and the same at the same time. So, I have been spending most of my life working with groups of people and trying to convey a common vision, or at least to find out what the common vision is, and it’s very complex, very complex. It’s a lifetime thing for all of us to refine that vision together. But that’s ok, that’s the work, that’s what we have got to do. As long as the other things can be simply solved and taken care of we can manage this vision thing. We all have to decide, what we are going to do now you came, now we live in Boom, and you wanna land out there. Landing in Boom is one experience; landing at the other side is another experience. You have to land out there and you have to at least make me a promise, that you will get out there and ask yourself one question, how am I making a living? What are you doing? I ask myself almost everyday that question, and sometimes I don't like the answer, and a lot of the times I do. Sometimes I go into an ego-trip because I think I’m such a great shit because of how I make my living. But that’s when we can actually reach some bottom line, although it is all about that, your time is your life, your life is your time. What do you do with your time? Do you sell it? And for how much? And is it worth it? And if no, do something else with your time, it is that simple. I know you’re going to tell me 'I'm working, although how much time for questions? The really true questions' and then you’re going to tell me 'well, you know, I got to pay the bills, I got to do this, i got to do that'. But the bottom line is, you and I have a choice, you and I have a choice, you’re blessed with that. And that’s what we are trying to do here at Boom, we try to live our everyday life as if are honouring our mothers.
I think the theme was very appropriate this year, and it’s about the respect are we paying to our physical mothers, and our divine mother. What are we doing? What she gave us was our time. So, that’s what we choose to do here, every two years. We need the help of a lot of people to bring it about, but the possibility of one boom of light in all of this, if there is that possibility, I feel is that it’s worth it, and that’s where I am now. It might not be tomorrow, but now it was worth it.
Maybe we have time for a couple of questions eh? Thank you.
Ok, so yeah, time is short so let’s see who has a really awesome question that is so awesome it’s going to make up for all the other questions that cannot be asked.
Q - My question is, do you have a post-Boom meet where you talk about what worked and what didn't work?
- That happens all the time.
- I mean a directly post Boom, and is it open to the public?
- Not one post there's many posts, Boom is in many different forums, we receive tens of thousands of emails and posts and websites...
- Do you physically do it here on site directly after is my specific question?
- People live here on site constantly, some group of people are always on site since a couple of years ago. Obviously, this is a seasonal place, so over winter there is very few people here, very few things happening here. But if you take into account the things that we were discussing before this week with other people, like energy efficiency for instance. Well yes we do have generators here eating diesel. But if you look at, for example how much energy we have generated over eight months of production for Boom, in four different solar stations, where people are living almost entirely from solar power, all this time, the whole crew living from solar power. If you look at how much of that energy constructed, and you take ten days of voracious energy consumption so we can indulge ourselves with good music and good sound quality, it’s a question to balance. We can calculate in the conventional ways in terms of kilowatts and amperes, and we probably would be in the positive if we did make that calculation. Our four solar stations generate something like fifty kilowatts of energy every day, and there is a lot of sun in this country here. And if we do the final calculations we would probably be in the positive, but it’s all very relative. In the end it’s just a personal decision, a personal choice, numbers are not going to help us to make the decision if we are ethical or if we are unethical in what we are doing. Numbers help to give us a reference on where to go, and where we need to shape up our act, but the bottom line is always we have to take into account how much the experience, which I was talking about before, how much is that worth? How many litres of diesel is worth your psychedelic experience? I hope you make it worth.
Thank you. Thank you.