Groovin' Grassroots rocks Bedlam Bay

A festival to celebrate environmental volunteering in the heart of leafy north Sydney

Groovin' Grassroots rocks Bedlam Bay

A festival to celebrate environmental volunteering in the heart of leafy north Sydney

Local Links - Stronger Communities -

LLCI012-016

The issue

With a network of more than 6000 people, meeting every passionate Landcare, Bushcare and environmental volunteer is incredibly difficult in Sydney. And those quieter volunteers - those who diligently bake cakes every Bushcare Saturday, who work behind the scenes, or even the young family - are often forgotten when it comes to public acknowledgment and awards. Any many volunteers are unaware of the incredible network of NGOs and agencies working in Sydney to support their good work. 

We needed a way to connect, celebrate and share our fantastic Greater Sydney network with the wider NGO and environmental NFP space, and the broader community. A chance for us to give back to the community that supports some incredibly threatened landscapes throughout Sydney, and whose passion and dedication is an inspiration for our entire community. And to reinvigorate and reinspire - particularly in a time when environmental mismanagement, climate change, and rampant development increase eco-anxiety and threaten the very landscapes our community cares so strongly about. 

The solution

A music festival! Well, a festival to ackowneldge, celebrate and spread the word of environmental volunteering. With the coincidence of National Volunteer Week (20th-26th of May, 2019) we decided to hold "Groovin' Grassroots". 

The purpose: to celebrate environmental volunteering in the Greater Sydney region. 

The aim: to bring together our environmental volunteering community, NGOs and local government into a space of festivity, celebration and good, 'chilled out' times to give back and publically acknowledge the amazing work of volunteers. 

We chose Bedlam Bay Oval, Gladesville - a central local with a natural amphitheater. Soundworks Marrickville provided us with exceptional rates for hire and the sound engineer, Nate whilst the local social enterprise Happy Hens provided sumptuous catering. Our partners included Our Living River, Hunters Hill Council Bushcare, Cumberland Land Conservancy, Habitat Network, and the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators. Jo from Our Living River proved to be an exceptional MC!

And, we had some incredible acts from Mi Hermano Y Yo, Serhiy, Josiah Jackson, Greg Bell, Aims Hammet, Winston and Fi (from The Fix and Silver Lining, respectively), Audrey Bygraves and the Odonata String Quartet. Musicians were rewarded with professional-quality promotional photos, social media and newsletter advertising, full catering and the space to practice and try out new material. 

The impact

We achieved wide community engagement with 41 formal ticket sales, and another 40 members of the public and local environmental groups in attendance - and had the chance to showcase, engage and thank our volunteers. Whilst crowd turnout was fewer than hoped, we had a wide range of volunteer visitors from the Hawkesbury, upper Blue Mountains, across Sydney and as far south as Thirroul. We improved our visibility as the representative organization for environmental volunteers, and we strengthened partnerships with existing NGOs and have created a community eager and engaged to join us Groovin' Grassroots 2020. 

Learnings

  • The power of goodwill, in-kind support and generating a community that thinks 'green' was crucial to our event success
  • Advertising is key, as is accessible location already frequented and busy with the general public. Our natural amphitheater was incredible, but finding the location and being 'tucked away' accounted for a lower than anticipated turnout.
  • As a result, we plan to relocate to a more public and visible space next year
  • Rewards for attendance need to be improved; the drawcard of 'celebrating environmental volunteering' failed to draw the expected crowds and will need to be reassessed for the next festival
  • Milk crates and hessian sacks make perfect picnic furniture!
  • We've created a How To document with full learnings and budget here!

Key facts

  • Eight performers
  • Five NGO and local government partners
  • Estimated 100 attendees total
  • Goodwill, gratitude and social media advertising enabled us to produce the festival within budget ($5000)
  • Five debut performances

Project Partners