TreeTalk#8: Between The Trees & Personal Journeys.

During Between The Trees 2023, we asked Andre Van Wyk (a local film maker) to document “The impact of Between The Trees Festival on the personal journeys of festival attendees”. He followed ten individuals including festival staff, volunteers, artists, and attendees with the aim of understanding the role the festival has played, and continues to play, in shaping their experiences and perceptions, particularly in relation to nature, community, and personal growth. Here is a summary of a selection of the “take-home” messages and personal experiences.

The Sense of Belonging and Connection:

Photo – Peter Britton

Peter Britton and family shared the wonderful feeling of being separated from the outside world during the festival. They emphasised the strong connection with like-minded people in a beautiful environment. The festival provided them with a remarkable sense of belonging and communit

Megan Cox described her experience of performing at the festival with her family in 2018 (the first year of BTT). She highlighted the significance of her family’s local link with other attendees, especially those who knew her parents from school. The festival acted as a platform for building relationships and connections. Meg is now employed by the festival as an Event Planner and Artist Liaison, having previously participated in the Santander Cardiff Met University Internship Scheme

Escape and Reconnection with Nature:

Dan Santillo and family discussed their transition from a monotonous office job to developing an interest in photography and the outdoors in Wales. Between The Trees Festival offered them an opportunity to reconnect with nature as a whole family. It provided a refreshing break and a chance to pursue their interests.

Stevie (Lads and Dads, a local community charity) emphasised the feeling of being disconnected from the world after experiencing personal loss. Volunteering at the festival allowed him to immerse himself in wildlife, nature, and music and the enjoyment of being part of a team. The festival provided solace and a sense of connection with the environment and the festival volunteer community.

Personal Growth and Transformation:

Megan Cox expressed how her involvement in the festival as a staff member transformed her career and became her favourite job. The festival played a significant role in shaping her professional journey and personal growth.

Adebayo (Bayo), a key festival staff member, discussed the initial challenges he faced in adapting to the UK culture and the positive impact that Between The Trees Festival made to his life. Bayo emigrated from Nigeria to study a Masters in Public Health and Well-being and found it difficult to adjust at first. The festival provided an internship placement for him and served as a springboard for his career. He made new friends, boosted his confidence with a challenging new role and this supported his emotional and mental well-being. Bayo now has a responsible job as a Health & Safety Officer in Somerset

Community and Connection Building:

Stian & Abi Vedoy highlighted the importance of the festival as a space for community and connection. They mentioned inviting new people to the festival every year and witnessing the growth and journeys of individuals. The festival facilitated the formation of friendships and a sense of community. They are a very talent young couple and are highly active participants at the event. They are musicians and this year their band, Firewoodisland are opening headliners on Thursday night. Abi also creates watercolour and painted items as well as teach a workshop in watercolour painting. Stian is a filmmaker and has provided some of the amazing drone and film footage for the festival.

Firewoodisland – Forest Stage 2023

To sum up, the festival provides a unique environment for individuals to connect with nature, form meaningful relationships, and experience personal growth. It serves as a space for escape, solace, and community building. The interviews underscore the festival’s role in creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, fostering a sense of belonging, and facilitating transformative experiences.

The insights from this project contribute to a deeper understanding of the importance of nature-based festivals in promoting well-being, personal development, and community engagement, as well as informing festival organisers, community organisations, and policymakers in creating similar events that prioritise environmental connection, personal growth, and community building.

Whats next ?

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