It’s February, the days begin to stretch and there’s a sense that winter’s grip is loosening, despite the wind and rain. It feels like a good time to announce a new Dark Mountain event, which will be held in September at Embercombe on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.
There have been a number of smaller Dark Mountain gatherings over the last few years, as well as book launches and collaborations with other organisations, but there hasn’t been a large-scale event since the last Uncivilisation Festival in 2013. I’ve felt the gap, and I know that others have too.
What I’ve missed is simple enough. It’s the chance to meet face to face with others who are willing to look honestly and compassionately at the issues that the Dark Mountain Project has raised, to have encounters and share ideas with real people in a real place, to sit round a hearth and hear stories from the other side of the fire.
Base Camp is an opportunity to gather a larger group of people together once more, and we’re thrilled to be hosted for the first time by Embercombe. It’s a stunning place, set amidst fifty acres of permaculture woodland, fields and gardens, with a variety of eco buildings, yurts and a lake for swimming – the right kind of place for a Dark Mountain gathering.The programme for the event will include speakers and performers who are producing some of the most interesting and creative responses to this era of converging crises. Just as important, throughout the weekend, there will be opportunities for everyone who attends to actively contribute. One of the many lessons we learned from Unciv is that when you unplug the PA system and move away from elevated stages and too-tight schedules, you allow space for a deeper, more participative, more self-willed event.
Charlotte Du Cann and I are currently developing the programme and, whilst we can’t yet reveal all the details, we can tell you that there will be a strong local flavour to the brew. It will include a trio from Devon who, between them, have provided some of the most profound and transformative experiences of previous Dark Mountain events: Dr Martin Shaw, superlative storyteller and Director of the West Country School of Myth; and the wonderful Rima Staines and Tom Hirons who will unveil their project, Hedgespoken – a remarkable imaginarium and travelling off-grid theatre. We can also confirm that Paul Kingsnorth, Dark Mountain co-founder, will be there to read from and discuss Beast, his upcoming novel and sequel, of sorts, to the acclaimed The Wake.
Base Camp aspires to a rich mix of talks, workshops and performance, and to the kind of alchemy that can happen when you honour the spaces that open in-between. It’s a chance to replenish, to take a fresh look at the maps and to plan new routes and adventures. If you’re an old friend of Dark Mountain, or have just discovered us, we hope you’ll want to be part of it.
In keeping with our desire for an intimate, participative event, we are limiting numbers to 150. Tickets will go on sale soon. For more information, go to the Base Camp website which is now live and ready for action. Or contact Dougie Strang [email protected]
Images; carrying the fire on Rannoch Moor (photo: Sarah Thomas) November 2015; map of Embercombe site by Rachel Griffiths and surrounding lansdscape (photo: Embercombe)