Why EarthFest will be different and make a difference.
A festival is meant to be a medium for people to see some alternatives to the one-time distinctly “western” paradigm of consume, work, consume more, watch television and the other thousands of ads every day that tell us we are not adequate and the only way to compensate is to consume some more.
Actually we are not against consumption, as we all need to consume in order to survive, but we are against over consumption, which means consumption that is not sustainable. Unsustainable consumption simply refers to those of us in the present consuming in ways and amounts that detract or will detract from the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs. And it also detracts from the ability of all the other beings on this planet to satisfy their needs, which ultimately comes back to bite the human animal.
We want to show that there are other ways – and maybe even remind the people of who attend that Taiwan presents many living examples of sustainability – examples that thirty years ago were the norm, but are giving way to western patterns of consumption that are threatening the viability of social and eco systems in Taiwan.
While the festival will involve a lot of consumption we hope to begin building a model for “zero waste” events in Taiwan. While “zero” may seem pretty radical, we recognize that this will come in stages and so we start by cutting back, reduction, recycling and so on – all the time with the idea of zero waste as the ultimate goal, a goal by the way that reflects the situation under which humans were able to flourish for hundreds of thousands of years. It is simply the natural axiom “waste equals food”. After all, as the founder of one participating environmental group likes to point out “we humans spend all our time ingesting the excrement of plants.”
We are working on bringing in people and organizations in to do workshops and teach-ins on solar cooking, local money, permaculture, composting toilets, organic farming, composting kitchen scraps, connections between perceived affluence and health, between perceived affluence and environmental and social degradation. Fair trade, entrepreneurship with a conscience, food kilometers/eating local, carbon footprinting and social and economic justice as key components of a sound and sustainable environment will be some of the other themes of talks and workshops throughout the three day festival.
Specific local environmental (or as they prefer to be known “sustainable economic”) issues to which we hope to expose the festival goers, include nuclear waste and the fourth nuclear power plant, preservation of the Lesheng Leprosarium, the Suhua Expressway and sustainable transportation issues, conservation of the Sousa dolphin along Taiwan’s west coast, agriculture and industrial policies and Taiwan’s CO2 emmissions challenge. While these may seem like bad candidates for a “festive event”, we hope to help environmental groups in Taiwan gain more support by letting people who normally do not get involved in these issues see them in an unintimidating, relaxed setting.