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- 26 Aug 2018


Okay so now you are all confused, how does advertising being poison gas, my adolescent resentment of hippiedom and a crisis in leadership and co-dependent crisp packets hang together as a conceptual argument?  

Well I have had so many thoughts about Campfire Campout 2018, that it was almost impossible to know where to start or to even begin writing about them. There was so much to consider following a very genuine meeting of hearts and minds. The weekend was a very unexpected turning point in my life, I thought I might get wet and chat shizzle with like minded people but there were so many firsts. I will write about them separately as #campfirecampout18revelations - this is revelation 01 - A New Perspective On Leadership which seeks to analyze where collective and corporate co-dependency is stunting all our growth. 

I will start somewhere strange by stating my long held position of pouring scorn on anything a bit 'hippie' (not cool man etc.), which I apologize for because I see where it is taking me and where it is taking us collectively.

I mentioned at one of the first fireside debates on the Friday evening that advertising innovator and self styled 'master communicator' George Lois stated that 'advertising is poison gas'. I don't think he meant it the way I read it (which is that the gross result of consumerism is literally tangible poison gas). Lois was stating it in a more romantic towards advertising at the level of innovation and the 'shock of the new', which is so 1960s and so fair enough.  However they didn't have the dark side of oceans full of plastic to contend with then. 

So I read it as an unfortunate marketing slip of the tongue the ra ra ra of consumerism that somehow retrospectively has revealed itself as a truth. Where did everyone think selling cheap environmentally destructive single use products would get us? The genius of marketing gave us all 'bottled water' and now we are all brand aware there seems to be no going back to taps and free water fountains.  How could this free for all not create  ' poison gas'  -  once the consumer experience is over the trail of detritus is discarded and has to be buried somewhere or incinerated because it will be around longer than we are. I think we all need to be a lot less trusting and give advertisers, brands and corporations a lot less room to move than we have thus far. They cannot be trusted to do the right thing by the environment. Global or at least National legislation is the answer but politicians, governments and Nations, just seem to have no capacity for creating agreement and standing up to corporate destruction. The recently created biodegradable crisp packet was abandoned because 'consumers found them too noisy' for example. This literally is insane in my eyes, a solution is found and then abandoned, sacrificed on the altar of consumer experience. Bitches please this is idiocy writ large.  

So we have more 'poison gas creation' here, plastic waste being produced because companies are too scared of us (the consumers) to actually grasp the nettle and do the right thing. For all the corporate rationalism that supposedly out there this feels like the right thing has been abandoned on a needy and emotional whim based on corporate insecurity. Jeeze pass me the smelling salts, I've had an awakening, I see this nightmare of circular stupidity. What is worse is the wasted business opportunity, the first company to master making potato starch packaging work is going to win big. It's the lack of business acumen here that really beggars belief because this could be a game changer for who ever is brave enough to take the leap of faith. They are all waiting to be told to do it, because none of them are brave enough to take the initiative. There is a solution to the endless packets of whatever we all consume, it's a potato starch bag that biodegrades but it's a noisy bag so no one is using them. It makes no sense, do consumers really care about the sound of a bag?

Okay so now you are all confused, how does advertising being poison gas, my adolescent resentment of hippiedom and a crisis in leadership and co-dependent crisp packets hang together as a conceptual argument?  Where is the Eugenie Monster going with this weaving of yarns? Well, guess maybe? Message me with your ideas? No, you don't have time, fair enough, I will tell you.

Having been raised in a commune I have done a lot to stay away from open fires, tents, socks and sandals, an equal sense of community, the level space of being if you like. My ego wanted accolades, to be rewarded for being special and different (and not a hippie like my parents) and hopefully exceptional in some way even (big headed Eugenie etc). I think folks over the weekend I got over that lost sense of myself and just participated.

We are all like the co-dependent crisp manufactures, we all fear ridicule and rejection and feel like we cannot take risks with our self perception, our own 'me brand' awareness if you like. In consumer culture we are our buying choices. Where did you go this year? "Shambala and Glasto babes", "Oh, they're my favourite festivals" etc. We all do that, I am what I do shizzle. What we are seen to do is how we measure and position ourselves in the world. As such we can become very closed to ourselves and equally to other people and new ideas. If you say I am going to a Festival people invariably say, who is playing? Is this a person, brand, concept, set of values I can align with? Is this going to be worth my time/money and reputation? 

For me the idea of a self made festival was 1. akin to Chinese water torture (particularly if hand clapping, friendliness and hugging was involved). 2. bound up in the memories of a childhood of free festivals and some resultant trauma at the hands of 'out of it' adults. I guess I reclaimed some land from the sea over the weekend. I reclaimed festival culture as something I could shape. I separated my long held, puffed up self importance with the joy of a the genuinely shared spontaneous experience. I got over me and got into WE and was happy as a pig rolling around in blood temperature excrement after a Summer downpour.

What I came away with is a sense that we can all lead, given the opportunity and the willingness to take some responsibility for the outcome. Campfire Campout 2018 was brilliant because we all had the opportunity to offer something, what ever it was. I contributed a performance workshop with some chairs, singing and owning that actually following two battles with breast cancer I am currently in a significant amount of emotional pain (delayed reaction if you will) and I'm really very confused by that pain. It was powerful to stand outside the idea of myself as some kind of teflon plated heroine, because that I am not. I felt safe enough to be vulnerable.

What the weekend illustrated was that everyone had some amazing skills to offer. We did not have to stand in front of a stage looking to a 'name' act charged with carrying our collective creativity for us. Or even look to a festival director for reassurance, even though there was a very experienced one in our midst. We could sing, dance and plan for ourselves. So just as crisp manufacturers are co-dependent, we stopped being co-dependent on the idea of a headliner and a 'festival programme'. It's as if we all jointly decided to cut out the idea of a 'cultural dominant' and take ownership of the space and each other. This was a wow moment for me and gave rise to a very genuine feeling of warmth between people.

From that I have understood how human culture is creating these caricature leaders who border on the comical, because as long as someone is in charge that isn't us, it is easier than getting involved. Were it not for the fact that real damage is being done by these power crazy, emotionally inept chancers. As communities we need to take our part as leaders instead of passively handing the world over to people whose motives are not for the greater good - those who are motivated solely by personal profit or just desperate for the top job to say that they did it and won the prize. Campout 2018 acted as a template for a different approach to life, leadership and engagement in which we all hold our power and value and let go of the idea that someone, somewhere else is bigger and better and their contribution is much more important and relevant. 

That was a lot of growth for one weekend. DIY festivals, where the community are the entertainment are going to become a 'thing' I believe. Festivals will start programming participation spaces. Sometimes its not enough just to watch, to be a passive spectator consumer, sometimes you want to contribute. Here’s to more DIY spontaneous festival weekends. Campfire Campout 2018 you were a total blast.

And here's a poem.

The Co-dependent Crunchy Crisp Packet

there is a solution people
but we are too roast chicken
flavoured to taste it
it's a comedy of errors
a missed marketing opportunity
a real solution had been found
potato chips packaged in potato starch
a match made in heaven
a solution born from within
the product itself no less
an end to endless plastic crisp packets
that we bury in the ground
or abandon at sea
but no dear ones it cannot be
potato starch is way too noisy
the consumer does not want
a crispy or crunchy crisp packet
that’s far too embarrassing
and inconvenient for them
they cannot be displeased
by the percussive rustle of
a single use consumer bag
far better to give them
a quiet product that pollutes for eternity
we fear they might leave us
for another brand
oh mindless marketing bots
do you not know
that the whole point of crisps
is that they are crunchy
no one eats crisps quietly
this is the ultimate in product development
you're missing the synergy
a crispy bag of crunchy crisps
in a crispy, crunchy bag
it would so beautifully do
what it says on the tin
god in the ultimate detail



Kimm Fearnley

@Eugenie Arrowsmith-Pepper This was a fab read. Totally with you on the fear of hippydom too and all that public outpouring of “feelings” but think I have arrived at a similar destination without consciously buying a ticket.
I can’t wait to meet you and indulge in a group hug! Loved your poem too - I hadn’t heard about the bloody noisy crisp packets! Wtf??! X


Ralph Pettingill

Thank you @Eugenie Arrowsmith-Pepper , I loved reading about your experience of the Campout. It's fascinating to contrast my own polar opposite origin story: an utterly un-hippy, postwar family of self effacing modesty and assimilation . And here we all are, around the same fire, sharing the same wonders and faced by the same horrific mess. The awful reality, but a reality that I think we need to face, is our collective collusion in allowing those chancers to hold sway over us and our planet. I think it's horrible to realise that without our acquiescence they couldn't hold on to power, and what does that say about us? When we begin to participate, take baby steps of initiative, (programme our own festivals, and our own 'everything' big possibilities open open. So thanks again, and here's to looking forward to more opportunities, more discussion, more initiatives...


Eugenie Arrowsmith-Pepper

Thanks Ralph it’s that old evil thrives when good people do nothing chestnut - it’s powerful to really take on how much we can change if we look our failure to do so in the face. It’s a big deal but I’m up for it!


Andie Brazewell

That's a lovely piece and take on such an amazing weekend, such a joy to meet you @Eugenie Arrowsmith-Pepper (EugenieAP) I am still working through what I came away with, almost got my chassis for the bow top caravan, already found my source of wood...;-) xx

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