Our August launch event Campfire Convention 001.UK is falling into shape and some of the core team are heading into The Black Mountains next weekend to walk the site and discuss more detailed plans ahead of the August Jamboree. We may even light a fire!
As for the main event, we have just received confirmations from cult author John Higgs (I greatly enjoyed his book 'Stranger Than We Can Imagine' on a recent trip to Greece) and founder of Novara Media, Aaron Bastani. With the current propensity for biased news reporting (usually one way) it's refreshing and very welcome to see Novara staking out their own territory and doing their bit to redress the balance with some quality investigative journalism.
We are now close to finalising our panels and workshops, which can be viewed on this page. Discussion topics include democracy, the refugee crisis, storytelling and narrative, death and the last life quarter, protest and counterculture, clean learning, entrepreneurship, broadside ballads and universal basic income as well as what we can achieve together as a community at Campfire. We've been working hard to assemble what we consider to be many the essential discussion topics and issues at present and we hope you'll enjoy what we have on offer.
We're especially pleased to announce today Campfire Circle member Caroline Kerr's workshop Homegrown Activists, which will bring three current refugee crisis heroes together to talk about their own experiences. You will recall that morning in September 2015 when the world woke up to images of a small child washed up on a beach in Turkey. Three year old Alan Kurdi had drowned along with his mother and siblings fleeing the war in Syria. For a lot of people at home and overseas, that image changed their world forever and prompted a social media explosion that lead individuals to the ‘People to People Solidarity’ Facebook page.
The grassroots movement has swiftly mobilized individuals across the whole of Britain and Europe to become involved as volunteers in the refugee crisis, in the face of minimal and often inappropriate action by the authorities. This social media group has become pivotal in sharing information, routes for refugees and collecting aid, rallying multiple solidarity groups connected to the cause all across the country.
Rob Lawrie is a former soldier who headed to Calais Jungle in his van equipped with food, tents and sleeping bags, only to find himself weeks later arrested for attempted child smuggling. Rob talks about how his life has been changed by ‘a crime of compassion’; Lea Beven’s transformation from ‘shoestring mum’ to a juggernaut of humanity is another poignant story. Lea created ‘Caravans for Calais’ and ‘Mobile Crisis Support Units’ and is now the proud owner of Shropshire Loves community interest group. Nizar Dahan (Neezo Swansea Dhan) is a tour-de-force of fundraising and project manager of ‘Iokasti's Kitchen’ in Samos. He talks about his journey from property developer in Wales to human rights activist and feeder of the thousands.
This will be an unmissable workshop.
We've also had confirmation that Richard Thanki from The Worldwide Tribe will be joining our panel about new directions for democracy 'Let The Grand Correction Commence'. He will be speaking specifically about the important wifi work that the Tribe have been doing around the world, particularly in Calais and Lesbos.
People need to converse and connect, to be able to have spaces in which they can be creative and imagine new futures. Richard has come to believe that an important aspect of a more meaningful and fruitful future is to enable people to have more control over the management of their environment. Instead of decisions concerning who has access to physical, social and cultural goods and infrastructure being left to impersonal markets or remote government agencies, it's vital to address how can these decision be brought under the democratic control of the people they will affect.
This is reflected in the nature of the equipment the Tribe been using to build Wi-Fi networks. They use licence-exempt radio spectrum, which is open to anyone to use as long as they observe basic rules, instead of the exclusively-licensed spectrum bought by mobile operators for billions from governments. The availability of these tiny slivers of public access spectrum since the 1980s has led to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other technologies, and also a whole host of innovation that hasn’t been restricted to only giant companies with deep pockets and armies of political lobbyists. It’s these same extremely low-cost technologies that are now being used around the world by innovative small companies and organisations to connect with Wi-Fi communities whose incomes or geographies don’t permit access to high-priced 3G and 4G mobile broadband.
Many of these organisations would like to create blueprints that can be used by organisations and cooperatives worldwide to connect their own communities with infrastructure they own and manage themselves. Richard's day job, away from the Worldwide Tribe, is as an economist looking at the social, political and economic impact of connecting the world’s marginalised communities, so we are very much looking forward to hearing his perspective.
Worldwide Tribe and Campfire Convention are jointly committed to finding ways to help the millions of displaced people around the world gain access to connectivity and we both hope that it's possible for us to use the platform for conversation that this inaugural Campfire Convention provides to find people who have the skills, connections and drive to help us in this task - it’s an awesome one.