Connecting to your tribe and Writers' Festivals

It was gloriously sunny here last weekend, an absolutely perfect two days for our local Writers' Festival. This is the third year these ace people have organised the Festival, and the place was buzzing with speakers including Hugh Mackay, Nikki Gemmell, Laura Greaves, plus workshops on writing, pitching and getting published.

For years I went to the Sydney Writers' Festival. Watching the broad range of people attending is almost as interesting as the sessions themselves. Things happen at festivals. People loosen up, relax into the day, leave behind the day-to-day rush. Strangers chat to each other in queues, around the mobile coffee van, in the bookstore, waiting for a session to start.

Being together to listen, to learn and to think connects people. If even just for a moment, it opens us up to new ideas and dissolves barriers, creates the possibility of connections to other people, and to new ways of being in ourselves. A big claim? I thought so until I listened to Hugh Mackay talking about his new book, Infidelity. 

He spoke about the title of his book not being just about sexual infidelity, but about how not following your dreams and being true to yourself, is a deeper, more fundamental infidelity - to yourself. Ain't that the truth.

He also mentioned that over 60% of Australian households today have just one or two people living in them, and that the last five years have seen an explosion of writers' (and other) festivals, book and craft clubs. All ways for people to get out and connect beyond their household, find their tribe, learn new stuff and meet people who share their passions. Makes sense right?

It makes me wonder about how we connect at these things. It's brief, and at the Writers' Festivals I've been to, there's still mostly (and necessarily) the speaker/audience divide. Except where workshops are involved.

Someone doing it a bit different is Claire Bowditch's Big Hearted Business' 'un-Conference'.  A skills building weekend aimed at 'building communities' among the audience...'ones that last well beyond the weekend', and supports attendees to 'learn to make your living doing what you love in a way that contributes to the world.' It sounds like there's a bit more interaction and connecting between participants and speakers, rather than sticking to the audience/ speaker dynamic alone.

Has anyone been to the BHB un-conference? Thoughts on festivals in general? Been to any good ones lately?

*Above photo from Creative Commons.



  1. yep that is the truth!
    And no I've not been to a BHB un-conference... dreaming of going to one though! :-)

  2. I know - BHB looks fab doesn't it!



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