Getting inspired for the new year.

Welcome 2016. I am looking forward to the adventures, learnings and new experiences ahead for us. I am excited to continue creating an environment in which our children can flourish and grow - physically, intellectually, creatively, socially and emotionally. I have so many plans for new programs, projects, writings, films, plantings, and collaborations - at home, with the family and community, with the Ethos Foundation and our partnership SEED International.

I cannot think of a better place to spend the first day of the year, than in the streets and tents of the Woodford Festival surrounded by a culture of caring, arts, music, making, eco-ethics and community. It feels like we were setting the tone for the year in just the right way.

The Tiny House installation at the Greenhouse venue had daily information sessions.
Outside the Greenhouse tent where environmental talks are held, someone had set up their solar device-charging system and left it there unattended. I love the trust and respect shown here.
Other funky solar-powered, icy pole bike cart.
On this last day of the festival we began the day enjoying a fabulous Melbourne jazz outfit. Hugh is learning the trumpet and was intently watching the trumpeters improvise (a great music lesson). We listened to a talk about the impact of climate change on the pacific islands and the role tourism has to play (a great geography and science lesson). We explored the tiny house installation at the Greenhouse tent. We danced to a Canadian folk band, and laughed at the hilarious performance of 'Roofrack' by Totally Gourdgeous. This band played amazing gourd instruments made by Penelope Swales "one of Australia's most articulate and fearless songwriters ... who urges us to get active and involved."

Maia felt so happy listening to the Canadian band at the garland stage.
A ritual of ours on the last day of each Woodford Festival is to go to the Festival shop and buy a couple of new CDs featuring the artists we have most enjoyed during the 6 day festival. We love listening to this music throughout the year to remind us of the spirit of the festival, it's also a way to support these local artists directly.  

This year I also let the kids choose something else they might like to take home with them.  Hugh chose a pair of circus poi - weighted balls on strings you swing in rhythmic and geometric patterns. Maia, after walking the entire site, decided that she didn't actually need to buy anything else, the experience was enough. Besides she has a few rocks in her pocket from where her favourite busker, Uptown Brown, played.

Maia was delighted to chance across Uptown Brown again as we were leaving the festival - an amazing one-man band.
As Maia and I walked around looking for something she might buy, we came across some very interesting handmade ethical items - wild-harvested oils and balms, up-cycled toothbrushes, hats from truck canvases, delightful handmade shoes and bags, ethical and fair-trade clothing stores as well as organic treats and interesting sculptures.

Locally hand-crafted boots.
Handmade leather sandals.
"Dangling Man" made from old lighters and toothbrushes.
Toothbrush light-shade
Toothbrush bangles
This was the only day we saw the organic doughnut stall without a huge line-up, so we relented and Hugh skipped off to collect one to share.

One of the many amazing sculptures around the site.
On the streets of Woodford, we became quite the fans of these 100% fruit ice creams on hot days - frozen fruit pressed through a champion juicer while you watched. Today's flavour was banana strawberry and boysenberry. Maia loved the fact there was no added sugar, and Hugh was particularly impressed because they came with no wrappings - another reason he chose the cone over the cup.

The village green is always a great spot to take a break and find some shade. Throughout the site so many butterfly-attracting plants have been planted over the years. It's great to see the interpretive signs and learn about the different species coming back to this area.

At the end of today I asked Maia what some of her big plans were for the coming year. She answered "to start up her 5 piece band". She wants to play saxophone, keyboard and sing in the band. She already knows who the band members are and has the name worked out! She also suggested it might be good to go visit Canada. I think the Canadian musicians we hear each year totally inspire her.  

Yesterday she also mentioned that she wanted learn how to sew better so she make her own clothes. I'll be happy to work with her on that, because I have a large collection of ethical and retro fabrics waiting to be transformed. For my 16th birthday, my parents gave me a sewing machine and sewing lessons with a local dressmaker. I love making clothes, but have not made the time recently. Now seems a good time to resume my passion for this.

I asked Hugh the same question about his plans. He said without hesitation that he wants to be homeschooled too this year. I know he revels in this type of applied learning. He has also wants to create ecological inventions - do practical science that can make a difference. I appreciate that! I love that he wants to be a contributor - I can't wait to experiment and be an activist with him.  We'll see how his thinking evolves over the next couple of weeks, but my feeling is this time he's serious about it. I am getting excited by the chance to homeschool both Maia and Hugh.

One of Monty's highlights was the 'Owl and Pussycat" pea green boat - complete with groovy music to dance to. His penchant for boats will be satisfied soon when we spend a couple of weeks with my parents in the Gippsland Lakes.

All in all, this year's Woodford Festival was a great way to see out 2015 and welcome in 2016. Thank you to all the organisers, performers, artists, makers and hundreds of volunteers who made this incredible event possible. 

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