I just finished compiling a history eBook of my not-for-profit environmental awareness Green Earth Group who are known mostly for the two successful all-vegan festivals in Brisbane, Australia.
There's 210 pages and over 65 000 words, covering our beginning in 2009 to our ending in December 2013 with various events, talks, videos, photos and countless friendships along the way!
The History of Green Earth Group
In late 2008 in Adelaide at the Adelaide Vegan Festival, two of my friends, Jess (from The Cruelty Free Shop – who started the Sydney Cruelty Free Festival) and Kas (from Bliss Organic Café, who started Adelaide’s festival) suggested that I also put on a vegan festival in Brisbane, Australia. I was in the middle of writing a detox diet and already had too much on my plate, but the seed was indeed planted.
Cue to about a year later and the seed began to grow. In and around my full-time job I began to work out what exactly I needed to make this non-greenwash and non-preaching-to-the-converted event happen. I contacted my friend, Dariusz who works on all the big name music festivals and he gave me a lot of advice and soon became the festival manager.
I created a not-for-profit group as the local vegetarian, vegan and animal rights groups didn’t want to be involved in organising this event. I started to fill in forms, which always leads to countless more forms. I learned everything from the ground up.
We started our grassroots movement by holding regular meetings at the local Loving Hut restaurant and slowly we built a tribe of committed folk from all ages and backgrounds – some were still in high school and some were grandparents. We joined together in our desire to create something that was truly a green and eco festival that didn’t harm our animal friends – and thus we created a community.
Our first festival, Green Earth Festival in March 2010 at the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens was magnificent. Many people didn’t believe that Brisbane was a big enough place to get many people to an event but we had 4000 attendees! It’s still one of the best days of my life. It was great to see how much hard work, effort, money and time created such a great day for all of the family. People still say that it’s the best vegan event they’ve ever been to. It could only get better, right?
In January 2011, right in the midst of marketing and promoting the upcoming festival, now called Green Earth Day, Brisbane experienced a deluge. The skies cleared for our promotional photo shoot around the 10th but it was chaos from that afternoon onwards. Our sunshine state, Queensland soon had three quarters of it declared a disaster zone. Our volunteers were out using their skills to help others, our sponsors were donating money to those in need, and our stallholders were worried about the next wrath from nature.
This was exactly the time we needed to educate people about the environment, in particular how an adoption of a vegan diet and lifestyle could really change things for the better. However, we just couldn’t get the money together to put on the event – we needed at least $30 000. I met with Dariusz on the 11th and he gave me three choices: cancel the event, postpone the event or scale down the event. After an intense week and an almost-breakdown on my part, I chose the later.
The second festival, Green Earth Day was held in Windsor at the Albion Peace Centre hall and outside using the overpass instead of marquees and tents. Everything was completely scaled down but it was still a massive success with 2000 people. If we didn’t have such high standards of our previous event to compare it to, it would have felt even better. And we actually even made money this year.
A few key volunteers and myself were now completely exhausted and burned out. I escaped to Byron Bay, New South Wales and Cariad Animal Sanctuary where I had my head shaved, and contemplated what the future would hold for Green Earth Group. We started as a group to put on a vegan festival and educate the mainstream to the ways they could use their skills, passions and expertise to change the world. What would we do now there would no longer be a festival?
Meetings were chaired and our regular team decided that we wanted to have smaller, more regular events. Over the next couple of years (2012-2013) we’ve hosted many video screenings, outreach and leafleting, letter writing events, nutrition and environmental information nights, food outreach, bake sales, pot lucks and attended environmental festivals. Myself and a couple of our other members have also given countless talks about the environment and a vegan lifestyle.
We also started a new blog where various authors would write for us – this was the beginning of our aim to launch an online vegan and environmental magazine. Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep people active, focused and committed. Everyone has their own version of how they can and want to get involved as well as how they want to get involved and what they’re comfortable with doing.
After my overseas adventures and gaining the clarity I needed when being away from the Australian and American (vegan and animal rights) scenes, I decided that I would no longer be running Green Earth Group. The option was there for someone to take it over, but for a non-paid volunteer position it was too big to ask. With our members all agreeing, at the end of December 2013, Green Earth Group would no longer exist.
If you had asked me a few years ago how this makes me feel I would have been upset. As I write this in December 2013, I know that I gave Green Earth Group, the festivals, my volunteers and the Brisbane community my all and am more than ready to let go of the old to make way for the new. I feel so grateful for all the experiences – good and bad – that have come over the past five years, but after this all-encompassing period since 2009, I’m ready to move onto the next phases in my life.
For me on a personal level, that’s (still) my Viva la Vegan! website. It’s also writing, speaking, coaching, teaching, blogging and my other job of Social Media Marketing and Content Creation. For many of the volunteers, they are now working with other people outside of our circle, and extending the knowledge they’ve gained to new people who need it the most. We all still do various outreach events and inspire others by the simple but effective way of leading by example.
Most of my closest friends are from the wonderful Green Earth Group tribe. I learned so many amazing lessons about myself - and others - since our inception. If you were involved in any of our festivals, websites and events over the past five years, I sincerely thank you for your participation and for your belief in myself, our wonderful volunteers, and our goals and aims.
Every single day we are given reasons and ways to disconnect from ourselves, others, our animal friends and our environment. Now - more than ever - we need to connect back. Think about all the things you may have in common with another, and make those connections happen. I am here to educate and be educated and I believe in the power of this movement. Together we can make it happen. We need to all work together.
Green Earth Group aimed to promote a better way of living – for us, for our animal friends and for our planet. With our group of like-minded individuals raising awareness to the environmental problems we are currently facing and aiming to provide simple but effective ways in which every individual can make a positive change.
We do believe that we made some positive changes and we’re handing over now to you to continue planting the seeds of hope, compassion and inspiration. Good luck!
Thank you always,
About the Book
This eBook has been created as a compilation of all of the events, articles, interviews, press releases, promotional materials, photos and more that have been created from 2009 – 2013 for Green Earth Group.
I hope you will not only follow our journey from creation to completion, but also gain some insight into the process of running a not-for-profit and putting on successful events
- Published: 23 December 2013
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia Licence