TBS spoke with Erfan Daliri, the mind behind Newkind Festival, a physical and intellectual boot camp all in the name of meaningful social change.
Keynote speaker, performance poet, youth educator, and now the brain behind Newkind Festival (which will bridge the worlds of education, technology, creativity, physical fitness, self improvement, personal development and more in the name of social change), Erfan Daliri talks revolution and community development as the countdown to the festival approaches the one month mark…
Good Morning, Erfan. Could you please tell us about your journey, and the kernel that formed the Newkind Festival?
The core drive and motivation of my life is to commit myself to the betterment of the world. To set about creating a world that is free of conflict and turmoil. My father has a PhD in education and an Order of Australia medal for services to community, and he has been engaged in arts for social change, community development and youth engagement work since before I was born as an Iranian refugee in India.
For me, social change and community development is all that has ever really mattered. Everything else is a distraction.
Watching both of my parents commit their lives to community development and social change – and not seeing any tangible positive change – I began dwelling more and more on what could be done to make our efforts more effective. I realised that much of the work being done is actually social work, as opposed to social change. I wanted to see what the root cause was, rather than see the symptoms of our social ills. I studied social change movements, revolutions, and popular uprisings to understand what they achieved, what success they had, and why they all ultimately failed. I guess you could say I was searching for the formula for the perfect social change movement.
My Masters shifted something, and I learned to take the skills I had gained while studying engineering – scientific method, systematic methodology, and efficiency – and apply it to social change. It was around then that the idea for UpUpTrampoline and in turn, Newkind Festival, first began to form in my mind.
So, what is the Newkind Festival?
The Newkind Festival is an attempt to reappropriate the immersive festival experience to engage in real world issues, in a real and meaningful way.
Conferences mean well, but generally start and end with the sharing of information. Festivals impart a wisdom that conferences cannot, yet the often entertainment-focused programming leaves a lot to be desired. Newkind merges these two tools in order to empower participants towards addressing global and local issues in a more efficient and effective way.
We’re calling it a festival, but it’s more an intellectual and physical boot camp.
We genuinely want to start a revolution. A revolution that places responsibility on the individual and places the focus on how we want to change, rather than how we want others to change.
How did the idea of Newkind come about?
By paying attention and remaining focused on the task at hand: creating a peaceful, kind, sustainable and inclusive society free of prejudice and conflict.
While studying my Masters, it became apparent that the tools for social change exist, but we have been using them unwittingly for other purposes. Social media, technology, entertainment, gaming, film and media industries and even festivals, are all tools. We just have to use them in new ways that are intended for the good of all.
That’s how the idea for Newkind came to be.
Everyone is capable of generating positive social change, and clearly more and more are willing to commit to it. But wanting to change the world and knowing what to do are two very different things. We are endeavouring to build a bridge between the two.
You’ve described Newkind as a movement, how so?
Newkind is a movement in that we espouse a way of life and a certain attitude that in turn allows for a sense of cohesion and clarity.
Social movements are in essence the gaining of momentum towards a certain goal or accomplishment due to a common point of solidarity. What we are doing with this particular movement is that we are recognising that all social ills and global concerns are actually inextricably interconnected; there is no separation. This approach allows for two things. First, an inclusive and all-encompassing nature of the movement, generating a sense of unity amongst seemingly separate movements. Second, a broader range of skill sets, where people of diverse professions can create new solutions that would not have otherwise been arrived at.
What does #WeAreNewkind represent?
The statement “We Are Newkind” is a declaration of solidarity with humanity. It says, we have no enemy, and we have no desire but for the safety and security of every person we share this planet with. It says that we will not stand idly by while there remains conflict, economic disparity, domestic violence or environmental abuse and neglect. It refers to the post-human entity that recognises the unity that is diversity. It is a banner for all people who want change to stand behind.
Tasmania inspires a sense of adventure and alludes to a pioneering spirit that is foundational to the movement. It is also very closely connected to environment: its two key economic engines are the production of food and eco-tourism. Tasmania is a state that is not heavily industrialised, maintaining a pace of life that is more akin to the natural rhythms we seek to attain.
The water is clean, the air is fresh, the stars are clearly visible and the beaches remain unpolluted and sparsely populated.
If we had to start over again, we know where we would start from.
We’re calling it a festival, but it’s more an intellectual and physical boot camp. We genuinely want to start a revolution that places responsibility on the individual and places the focus on how we want to change, rather than how we want others to change.
What kind of people is Newkind Festival looking for?
In essence: anyone with a desire to be an active agent of change, and anyone who wishes to live in a way that creates positive change the world. For presenters and speakers, we seek anyone who has a skill, a knowledge, technology or methodology that could effectively generate social change – even if the “how” is not obvious. We are inviting futurists, economists, survivalists, academics and permaculturalists. We are inviting personal development coaches, personal trainers and martial arts trainers, yoga instructors and natural remedies experts; gamers, geeks, cacao drinking, ecstatic dancers and level-headed engineers.
What teachings can the successful applicants expect, and what is your desired outcome upon them leaving this festival?
The festival participants, presenters and attendees alike will each take a very different learning from the experience. What will be common is the sense of empowerment, inspiration and hope. One can expect to learn self-care, yoga, physical fitness, new technology, economics, permaculture techniques, activism training, communication skills and outdoor survival skills.
The final day of the event is dedicated to project planning sessions, facilitated writing sessions, and discussion panels on post event outcomes. Short-film production, project planning sessions, facilitated networking workshops and even private writing sessions will allow for a clear path to be laid out beyond the four days at base camp.
Do you think that anyone can set their sights on making a new world for a positive social change?
I think that everyone is capable of generating positive social change, and clearly more and more are willing to commit themselves to it. But wanting to change the world and knowing what to actually do about it, are two very different things. With Newkind base camp we are endeavouring to build a bridge between the two.
The stakes are high and the global context is such that even those who would wish to can no longer ignore the need for change. People want to be able to live their lives in a way that does not harm others, and it’s the systems that we exist within that we need to adjust in order to allow that.