Again we have just returned from Greenbelt. I first went in 1983 with the church youth group to Knebworth (the year after a certain up and coming Irish band gatecrashed the main-stage). I went back as a student in 1984, 1985, 1986 and for the evening in ’87 (Castle Ashby) to see Bruce Cockburn. I started going again 4 years ago, mostly to try with Andy to raise the profile of peak oil amongst Christians. I’ve never had a bad Greenbelt yet (even last years washout). What are my thoughts 40 years on and particularly from a ecological perspective, especially as Greenbelt might have to move venue?
40 years is an opportunity to look back and Greenbelt took it at full throttle. A documentary film has been made giving the history of the festival. Clips of of this showing some greybeards interviewed about the greenbelt festivals founding were shown along various of the music and other activities etc. – it looks good and I’ll be buying a copy. I don’t remember ever having been filmed, but you never know.
Various other greybeards featured in some reformed bands that had appeared over the festivals history. A very good idea which added to the usual highly eclectic mix of music. (This year there was more roots and folk than ever which was great. Greenbelts variety must only be second to Glasto.)
There were fewer big name speakers here this year. Only Jim Wallis was really well known but Barbara Brown Taylor was the new festival star packing out all the venues she spoke at. However, returning to this blogs raison d’etre there was almost nothing I can find on the programme relating to the environment. Our ten minute talks were almost the only nod in this direction apart from one other 10 minute talk I am aware of on cycling. This is curious since the environment was raised in the communion service. This looked back over 40 years again and the changes that had occurred in women’s rights, ecology and globalisation and development. This retrospective missed out the 1973 energy shock (OK Greenbelt started in 1974, but there was a second one in ’79) and relating it to today with with almost record energy prices and war in the middle east.
As Greenbelt goes forward its to be hoped that the organisation team do think about the environment. There did not appear to be recycling at this years festival, unless the company were going to separate the recyclable waste afterwards and more people seem to have come by car this year than the last 3 years. If the venue does have to move access to public transport, recycling and energy (an all tented site would be much more difficult to provide sustainable power for) need to be considered.