This year, instead of our usual festival, Renew Fest will be honouring our impact on the earth and our desire for regenerative change by hosting a 30-hour VIGIL FOR GRIEF (in the wake of two sessions by international guest Stephen Jenkinson).

The Vigil will create a time and place to be contemplative, to be welcomed to country and participate in a smoking ceremony by our local indigenous elders, to be immersed in a live surround-sound music-scape, to listen to spoken word poetry, to slowly walk a labyrinth, and sit in the prepared meditative zones.

TIME: Saturday noon 11 May until Sunday sunset 12 May

LOCATION: Fig Tree Grove, Mullumbimby Showgrounds

ENTRY BY DONATION: Stay for one hour or for many

WHAT TO BRING: This is a BYO event. Bring food, drinks, picnic rugs and blankets, along with both rain and sun protection

ZERO WASTE: This is a zero waste event, so please refrain from bringing packaging and waste (and take any rubbish with you)

KEEPING VIGIL OVERNIGHT: If you plan to keep vigil with us through the night, please bring cushions, blankets, warm clothes and all that you need to keep warm ~ there will be a fire, but it will also be cold




Welcome to Country

(Arakwal Bumberbin Custodian Delta Kay

and Minyungbal Yugambeh songman Uncle Magpie)

followed by Smoking Ceremony 
(Uncle Magpie)


Surround-sound music-scape (HHAARRPP)

and live ambient musicians

(Cye Wood, Georgia Shine,
Jolanda Moyle, Brandon Cassidy)

Spoken word poets and writers

(Ella Rose Goninan, Tom ‘Compost’ Keily,

Tanith Roberts, Jenni Cargill-Strong from Story Tree

Zenith Virago founder of Natural Death Care Centre)

Labyrinth walk

(set up by Jenni Cargill-Strong)

Other prepared meditational zones

Open invitation: grief, earth, joy

From festival director Ella Rose Goninan

Grief past, present, and future:

As director of Renew Fest, I get to witness and support all the positive energy and enthusiasm that people have to care for earth, its living creatures and to heal our ways upon it. And I get to witness and support peoples grief, not just for what we have harmed in the past, and what we are continuing to harm in the present, but also a surreal grief for the future with whatever major changes are coming. 

Is our lack of acknowledging the value of grief connected to how deeply disconnected we have become from the earth and each other in Western societies?

Can we find a way to welcome grief home and hold each other in our collective grief?

Accessing true love and joy:

It has been my experience that the well-spring of grief is also the well-spring of true love, purpose and energising joy. These are the human qualities we need in bucket loads, to guide and direct us safely through and out of the current climate emergency.

As Joanna Macy, a Buddhist environmentalist, has written so beautifully in her text Greening The Self:

Don’t apologise for the sorrow, grief and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time.

Like an ‘earth cathedral’:

Our Vigil exists within an ‘Earth Cathedral’ under the showground’s fig trees, as a space for quiet contemplation, connection, prayers and pilgrimage. This metaphor of an ’earth cathedral’ or ‘earth temple’ is not one that Renew Fest limits to just one religion or culture — all peoples have cultivated spaces of reverence and remembrance. 

This metaphor has taken on extra poignancy in the last month. The burning of the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral was for many environmental activists a time to point out that the earth itself is burning (catastrophically heating up) and this is by far a much deeper grief that all of us share in.