Soul Food

Awareness brings responsibility. Climate Change is a pressing, present ongoing crisis. It’s hard to switch off. Rest and relaxation are rare. I even work my summer breaks, collaborating with different parts of the social movement growing around responses to Climate Change.

This year I’ve been at Greenbelt Festival. The concept behind the festival is based on the “greenbelt” – a fertile piece of ground, almost forgotten, at the fringes of a city, providing breathing space, and left to Nature. The name is a reference to changes in planning laws that mandated that there has to be a limit to urban sprawl – that land must be set aside and not built on.

Greenbelt is a Christian Arts Festival, and the atmosphere is very open and tolerant, and extremely family-friendly, with good accessibility. The Festival has a deliberate policy of encouraging political dialogue and discussion and many campaigns and charities come to engage the festivalgoers with issues of the day.

I was doing some work for the network of Christian Environmental groups, helping people find literature they need, and talking with concerned churchgoers about the waste of energy in buildings, allotments, solar roofs for churches, new Energy systems, moving beyond feelings of isolation and guilt, that kind of thing.

In my spare time I caught up with old friends, and took in the Greenbelt 2010 “sideways” vibes.

I saw Archbishop Rowan Williams on stilts (or was it just a look-alike ?)

I saw a young mother ride a penny farthing, her face contorted with fear, but her confidence winning out.

At the open-air Sunday morning gathering, I administered Communion to the Rev (the actor Tom Hollander).

Clare Short gave us a sterling opinion on international development.

Bruce Kent answered a set of the most ridiculous questions known to mankind, with true grace.

I got into conversation with someone about their fine dreadlocks, and it turned out to be Ciaran O’Reilly of Pitstop Ploughshares, who has recently won a court case about disarming military aircraft.

I was at a very interesting meeting hosted by Jonathan Kuttab, a Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist.

There were brightly painted and heavily adorned teenagers, there were Goths, there were angels, copious fast food vans and lots and lots of music.

Schlomo was a huge hit.

I joined two young men busking their way round the festival site. They weren’t asking for money, just an audience who needed some light entertainment.

“Beer and Hymns” in the onsite public house “The Jesus Arms” was bigger than football.

As I was about to leave on the very last hour of the very last night, I found a few people singing songs and they so clearly needed another voice in the lower range – so I joined in and found out that a combination of vocal training and age has made me nearly a tenor.

That’s enough culture for a few months. Now back to the Climate of Change.

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