Nature Festival: Advocating for the environment matters but don't forget to enjoy it

© Provided by ABC NEWS Noise/Nature will be held after dark at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens during the festival. (Supplied: ATG Publicity)

Knowing that climate change poses an imminent threat to humanity is not enough to galvanise some people into action, South Australia’s Nature Festival director says, but fostering individual relationships with the environment could help.

Ryan Hubbard is overseeing the launch of the annual festival’s second iteration today, which will see more than 260 different nature “events, encounters and experiences” take place across the state.

This includes a walkthrough of fire-ravaged Scott Creek to explore its recovery from bushfire, a Memorial for Forgotten Plants sound and music event at Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens, discussions with Kaurna and Narangga man and festival cultural ambassador Jack Buckskin about connecting with place, and countless workshops, performances and tips.

“The theory behind the environmental movement over the past 30 or 40 years has been largely, ‘If only people knew how bad things were’, or ‘If only people knew there was this imminent threat of climate change that’s going to be pretty bad’,” Mr Hubbard said.

“What we’ve seen is, it’s not enough for people just to know that.

“To really respond, people first need to have, and recognise and be aware of, a deeper relationship with nature.”

Find your own path

One of the ways to do that, Mr Hubbard said, was to simply enjoy nature in whatever “modality” suited people, be that gardening, adventure sports, art and culture, or even by enjoying the fruits of nature in its food and wine.

This has been reflected in a diverse program with plenty of expected events like bushwalking and talks, but also a wide array of art and music performances, poetry slam events, and even a specially brewed beer blended by a local brewer with native botanicals.

“Nature is a great source of wellbeing and it’s a great source of good feeling, and so when we go to protect it, it won’t necessarily just be from a place of fear, guilt or shame,” Mr Hubbard said.

“It will also come from joy and enjoyment, and from wanting to give back to something that’s giving to us.”

Mr Hubbard said that while environmental advocacy was important, and humanity needed to change its approach to better protect the world, it could also be “exhausting work”.

“It wears people out, particularly those working in it really closely, but all of us, societally speaking, we’ve got bushfires, we’ve got all of the climate change stuff,” Mr Hubbard said.

“So I think it’s really about balancing those two things — our need to protect and care, but also our need to notice it in the moment.”

Participation rates growing

The Nature Festival is in its second year after launching successfully during the first year of the pandemic.

Organisers had originally planned to just have 10 activities on SA Museum’s front lawn in February but the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 cancelled that.

They instead planned for a open access fringe festival at multiple sites later in the year — expecting to hold 50 different events and ending up with about 180.

This year it has grown to more than 260 different events, with venues and organisations across Adelaide getting involved, including Carrick Hill, Stangate House and Garden, Thomas Hill House, SA Museum and the Art Gallery of SA, Writers SA, and several botanic gardens.

“It’s gotten out of hand in the best way possible, even during COVID,” Mr Hubbard said.

The festival runs from September 25 to October 4.

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