Things Happen Here

Protest and celebration with Devon Transformed

Jasmine from Things Happen Here asked Alex Merron, one of the organisers of the Devon Transformed Festival which is happening at various venues in Dartington between September 22nd and 24th to answer some questions about the festival.

There are various festival events happening at Things Happen Here on Saturday September 23rd – tickets are available here.

THH: What is Devon Transformed?

Alex: Devon Transformed is an exciting project from a dedicated group of volunteers who all have roots in the Southwest.We’re organising an event on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of September at Camp Dartington, The Glade and Things Happen Here.

We’re creating a lively programme for the event that will be educational and inspiring, bringing attention to local and global issues and providing pathways to positive change. We’ll have live music, DJs, live art, talks, workshops, games, outdoor activities. The festival has a wonderful and unique location and by holding the space effectively, we’ll be able to make this event really special. It is both a protest against the damage we are causing to the world and a celebration of a new emerging potential future.

THH: Who are you Alex?

Alex: My name is Alex Merron, I’m lucky enough to have grown up in the Westcountry, so I’ve always had a good connection with nature. I have a background in music and art, particularly focusing on interaction and participation and ways to bridge the gap between artist and audience. It is my goal to use creativity to bring about more awareness of the ways in which humans can become more of a force for good on our planet. This led me to Schumacher College, where I studied Ecological Design Thinking, graduating this year. This experience gave me the tools I needed to take the necessary steps to achieve this goal. I realised that while creativity can be useful in many ways, it takes a lot of highly effective organising in order to make real positive change. This is what inspired me to organise Devon Transformed, it’s a way of putting the theories I learned at Schumacher College into practice. I believe that, through our emergent grassroots community, we can create positive change. By organising and curating a space where change-makers can converge, we can collectively create a real positive impact.

THH: What are you trying to achieve?

Alex: The Devon Transformed community are a diverse group with many overlapping aims, it can be used as a springboard for new emerging campaigns. Speaking for the community I can say we are worried about the future, so creating a better environment for current and future generations is our aim. The way we hope to achieve this is through strengthening the links of solidarity between different groups and organisations, such as climate activist groups and trade unions. By doing this we can overcome some of the divides that prevent us from effectively organising in response to the many crises we face. So by providing a space for collective sense-making and decision-making, combined with consciousness raising and political education, we hope to lay some of the groundwork for a more joined up and united Southwest. We believe this will  increase the effectiveness of our efforts to decarbonise, reduce pollution, become more regenerative and show more solidarity both locally and globally. So, in a nutshell, the purpose of the festival is to collectively explore the intersections between social and environmental issues to help us navigate to a better future than the one we’re currently headed for.

THH: What are you bringing to Dartington? We are all about community here and how do you fit into that ethos?

Alex: We have chosen Dartington as a location precisely because of this community ethos. We will bring opportunities to connect with a wider range of communities and groups with similar aims and goals. This will enable us to identify opportunities for cooperation and mutual support that would have otherwise gone unexplored. We believe that a community mindset is an essential quality for any progressive movement, and too often divisions and competition between communities can stand in the way of them achieving their aims. We are providing a space to resolve these conflicts and come together in a space of celebration, enabling us to move forwards and a more diverse and interconnected community of communities, if you will.

THH: What’s happening at Devon Transformed?

Alex: Devon Transformed will offer a smorgasbord of indoor and outdoor activities. We’ll have talks from a diverse range of speakers, including some very well known special guests, who speak passionately about local and global scale issues. We’ll also provide space for more interactive workshops, like a citizens assembly for a Green New Deal for Devon. This means audience can participate in a process of direct democracy, offering their unique perspective in drafting a manifesto which can inform the demands of local activists. There will also be live music and art, to celebrate and really enjoy the community spirit. Along side the formal programme, we’re hosting many more informal breakaway spaces, with areas for fishbowl-style conversations. This can create great opportunities for networking and finding people whose aims are aligned. We will also create a space that is accessible as possible, inclusion and diversity are at the core of our organisation.

THH: What can our community do to support you?

Alex: I really appreciate this question, I think the most simple way to help right now would be through promotion. We’re starting ticket sales on July 23rd so if we can get a big promotional push then that would be great. I can help by sending through some promotional materials. What we really need is to grow our email contact database so that we can reach people directly. This will be really useful for ticket sales and crucially we need as many local volunteers as we can get.