10 Things We Learned at Reforest Fest

03

MAY, 2018

By Lea Müller

A steadily increasing number of people find their way to Platbos Forest each March and join us for an incredible tree planting mission. This year we welcomed 1268 active citizens to our 8th Reforest Fest. We are proud to announce that together we planted 8300 trees over two weekends! Now Reforest Fest was not only a successful step towards compensating for our ecological footprint but also a time of immense personal growth. Here are the 10 most important things we learned during our time in the forest, which continue to inspire us as we return to our daily routine.

  1. The TREEvolution is happening!

Awareness for environmental issues is booming. More and more passionate TREEvolutionaries are becoming part of the change. We certainly are a growing community. It was remarkable how every festival-goer contributed to keeping the festival site as waste-free as possible and suddenly, coming to the forest, vegans and vegetarians were the norm not the exception.

Reforest Fest Planting Site

TREEvolutionairies on a mission.

Reforest Fest Community
  1. What we imagine can become reality.

A world in which we live peacefully and support each other is possible. Given the right incentives, people can coexist in extraordinary harmony. In an interview about her art piece IMAGINE There’s No Plastic, artist and attendee Janine Martel recently described Reforest Fest : “Greenpop has created an ideal world. It’s a little piece of utopia, a little piece of paradise. That’s the world I want to imagine.”

Reforest Fest Plastic Art

Janine Martel with the Imagine Circle.

Reforest Fest Plastic Art

Greenpop founders Lauren and Misha.

“That’s the world I want to imagine.”

  1. Synergize!

Together we can achieve great things. A sense of community and team spirit can make 1 plus 1 equal 3. All of us have unique skills and talents that can sometimes be surprisingly complementary. Combined, they create a new and stronger energy than they do separately. Thus, we were constantly learning from each other. Our team for instance was comprised of locals and internationals including a significant number of German interns. One of them was me. Now one might think that African Time and German Efficiency do not mix very well. You’d assume that cultures with such different Uncertainty Avoidance Indexes would disagree vigorously on how to handle shifts and tasks. However that was never the case. Although there were some different notions on the How to get there, our Objectives at no time differed sharply. Everyone wanted to create the best festival experience possible. Concerning the How to get there, I and my fellow German teammates gained insight on the ability to approach everything with a more relaxed attitude and still making things work out. In the same way some of our South African colleagues seemed impressed by the magic of being on time. Bringing together our virtues we made a powerful team.

 

Reforest Fest Friendship

Our combined strengths make us a powerful team.

Reforest Fest Dancing
  1. We can be both successful entrepreneurs and creatives.

Reforest Fest hosted 19 musical and 8 theatrical performances which filled the forest with epic tunes and had both adults and kids in awe. Misha, one of our Greenpop founders was DJ for a night and Secret Sunrise organized an amazing wake up shake up dance on Saturday morning. Meeting these people who make a living by helping our planet and spreading positive energy was eye-opening. This is something I personally have struggled with for a long time, coming from a profit driven city in Germany, where creativity and steady income are made to look like oppositions. For most of my life I thought that it was a curse to have both a spirit for entrepreneurship and creative drive within oneself. The latter would always have to be neglected in favor of a career. Realising that you don’t have to be part of the corporate world to be successful and make a living was very liberating to me. Being a personality with both qualities can be considered a powerful gift. Some dreams seem less unrealistic now. Reforest Fest proved that there is space for people like us.

 

Reforest Fest Creative Entrepreneur

Emma makes sure everything is run smoothly.

Reforest Fest Girls Posing
  1. Curiosity is key. Let others inspire you.

Everyone benefits from being proactive.  Assuming that every person that we meet knows something we don’t is essential and the only way to find out about that unique piece of information someone holds, is to ask them questions. This shared assumption made communication at Reforest Fest so special and helped form important connections between people. Furthermore, the lesson ties in with the movement of Big Talk which criticise small talk and tries to encourage more meaningful conversations. When we meet a person for the first time Big Talk instructs us to dive in and ask the questions that are really relevant in life. Founder Kalina Silverman suggests starting to get to know someone by asking them to complete this sentence: “Before I die I want to…”. Finding our own way to express our curiosity can help us receive a variety of new input and inspiration. Go out there and inquire! You never know what striking insight may await you.

Reforest Fest Education

Gina explains biomimicry planting methods.

Reforest Fest Friendship

“Every person that we meet knows something we don’t.”

  1. Share and spread ideas. Inspire others.

Now inspiration goes both ways. When we come up with brilliant ideas and insights, we sometimes forget to put them out there. We tend to underestimate the impact of our ideas and dismiss them as irrelevant, silly or just imperfect. But,the truth is, it doesn’t always matter whether ideas have been finalised or not. Sharing is crucial to bring ideas to the next stage. Progress is only possible if many people exchange their thoughts on contemporary issues, help spread awareness, and discuss how to improve concepts. During Reforest Fest, 20 talks spread important messages far and wide. Candice from Waste-Ed was one of them holding an inspiring talk on Eco-Bricks, which are empty plastic bottles packed tightly with non-recyclable materials, until they  become strong building blocks. She admitted that they are not the perfect solution for our plastic waste. Nevertheless it’s a way to approach the problem until we find better ways to reduce our harmful impact on nature.

 

Reforest Fest Inspiration

Candice shares her story with us.

Reforest Fest TEDx Talk
  1. Think outside the box.

In a complex world there is rarely one simple solution for the problems that we face. It’s important to acknowledge that most issues we deal with are not just one way streets and it’s not always either or. For example it’s a common assumption that waste has to be disposed. Part of taking a new perspective on waste can be upcycling, which is an easy and fun alternative. 12 workshops empowered future environmentalists at Reforest Fest to practice upcycling more frequently.

Reforest Fest Thinking Outside The Box

It’s all about new perspectives.

Reforest Fest Thinking Outside The Box
  1. Everyone can meditate.

Although people who attend Reforest Fest are generally very conscious and tend to make sustainable and mindful decisions, there were new aspects to discover for most of us. One of those aspects was meditation. During Reforest Fest we were able to part take in an incredible group meditation for peace held by Chloe from Shift and Lazola from Ubuntu Bridge. Now being back in the city, a cool way to incorporate the newly discovered way of centering ourselves in day to day life is using meditation apps. Taking 5 minutes to meditate in the morning is a great way to start the day with positive energy.

 

Reforest Fest Meditation

Slowing down and healing.

Reforest Fest Yoga
  1. Reconnect with nature and focus on what is important.

City life can be pretty busy and distracting. Going to the forest also meant stepping out of the comfort zone, using eco compost toilets and not being able to charge phones. Being with limited resources certainly helped to embrace a simpler life and unplug for a while. Soon we realised that we can easily live without all the clutter which has accumulated in our lives. It was good to focus on what is important and to learn that we need a getaway into nature every once in a while. The reconnecting was supported by 8 guided forest walks on Sunday

 

Reforest Fest Forest Walk

Meg Coates-Palgrave reconnects us with the trees.

Reforest Fest Forest
  1. How to plant a tree.

It may be obvious but the most important goal of our festival was of course planting as many trees as possible. Naturally, for those who came to Reforest Fest for the first time one of the most important things to learn was certainly how to plant a tree.

 

Reforest Fest Tree Planting
Reforest Fest Tree Planting

(All Photos in this article: Ashleigh De Villiers)

Reforest Fest Kids
Reforest Fest Planting Site
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