Somewhere between a festival and a conference is Friends of the Earth’s Basecamp; an annual event gathering local groups from across the country alongside staff members and a wider network of interested parties. From hard-core environmental activists to the eco-curious. Held outside the village of Castleton in the Peak District and with sessions predominantly held in yurts, getting away from it all and connecting with nature was high on the agenda.
Friday night kicked off with the Earthmovers awards ceremony – always a highlight – celebrating personal and group achievements from across the country. I always find it inspiring to hear about the breadth of work that is going on in different local groups, although when talking about our nominated project ‘Citizen Science’, I was stumped for an answer to the question ‘what was the most embarrassing moment of your campaign?’ when collecting our certificate.
There was a packed programme of different events and I participated in workshops and discussions about topics such as the general election, strategy and governance, and diversity within the network. I also learnt to shim sham and ate some cheese and wine with the Land, Food and Water Team. Food was a positive theme and one meal was cooked for us by the local Real Junk Food Project entirely from food that would otherwise have been thrown away.
The night-time festivities included a ceilidh and after the bar had closed a potentially hazardous walk through the woods to the campfire. The bar (in a yurt, naturally) was staffed by Young Friends of the Earth and my elation at discovering they were serving real cider was only matched by my disappointment when it sold out early on the Saturday night.
There was a full programme of events for children as well and the culmination of the weekend was a theatrical extravaganza where a group of solar-powered kids fought off a giant puppet personifying fracking. Being with so many committed people doing amazing things across the country and beyond was rewarding and inspiring, and it all went to show that environmental campaigning can be interesting, it can be varied, and it can be a lot of fun.