The New York Times has just done a pretty massive feature on my friend Paul Kingsnorth and specifically on the project he and (my other friend) Dougald Hine began as a response to ecological and civilisational collapse.
It’s a project that I’ve been intimately involved in, as a co-architect of the ritual component of the last three festivals, storyteller, workshopper and helper-outer. This is the first summer in five where we won’t be all gathering, and I know I’m not the only one to feel the absence. One of the most total experiences of community I’ve experienced, community across religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and age. It was there I’ve experienced some of the times I’ve felt most human, most chastened, most brimming over.
We were never going to metamorphose into a radical eco-village. We were united not by shared interests or purpose – I have my doubts that either are sufficient for what I consider community* – but by the space we came together in, and a commitment to allowing that space to be a coming-to-terms-with, in whatever way worked for each of us. There wasn’t a permanence in the gatherings; there couldn’t be.
Still these people are important to me, and I’m using this as a spur for more intimate meetings. In May I’ll take the train up to rural Sweden to visit Dougald and Anna for a spell, to talk, walk and think. Over that month and then next I’ll be just one of three or four mountaineers visiting, which promises a languid conversation smeared across the weeks, thoughts carried, deposited, picked up and turned over in hand. Can I make it to Ireland, to Paul and Nav? Scotland to Em and Dougie? Norwich to Ava? Berlin to Jeppe, and to Cat? In time.
In a way, losing the frenetic energy of the festival meetups reminds that these things, truly meeting with others, can’t be hurried, really. I read in a lot of my social feeds of whirlwind meetup weekends and regrets of not spending more time with people, and I definitely know where they are coming from. So I’m going to design more of my life away from that in the future.
And those August weeks thick with magic in the English countryside; won’t they be missed? They deserve to be. But this year, I’ll have to carve out some nostalgia time amongst three weeks of story camps working with teenagers and with families in green Germany. That should soften the blow.
This was a roundup on my Dark Mountain past and present. I recommend the NYT piece but if you’re really interested there is a lot more on the site including some information about the newest book: http://dark-mountain.net/
* If you’re interested, I’ve written around this subject in this Creative Commons piece from the book “Dispatches from the Invisible Revolution”. http://www.appropedia.org/A_show_of_hands_-_Alex_Fradera