The time for action is now! Greenpop, a Cape Town-based tree-planting and eco-education organisation, has opened applications for their annual Zambia Festival of Action. This conference of active citizens has grown into a fully-fledged service learning experience that engages participants from all over the world through an immersive and holistic experience of environmental action.
Building on the learnings from the project's five-year journey, the 2016 edition promises to dig even deeper into cultural discovery, green living, and the impact of planting trees and growing food forests.
Inspired individuals ready to get active for the planet can apply to join for one, two or three weeks from 25 June to 17 July 2016. High school students with a passion for forging a green future can apply to join the Schools Programme (25 June -2 July), and people of all ages can apply to be a part of one (or both) of the general weeks (3-10 July and 10-17 July). Why Zambia?
Greenpop co-founders Lauren O'Donnell and Misha Teasdale received a phone call in 2010 about 15,000 baby trees sitting in Zambia with no one to plant them. Those saplings, and the man who propagated them, are what took Greenpop to Zambia to explore the possibilities of running a community project there.
They discovered a country heavily affected by both deforestation and climate change, making it a relevant space for environmental action, and with such a friendly and welcoming culture, an abundance of inspiring individuals, and a wealth of expertise, Zambia is the perfect location to create a platform for exchange.
"The Zambia Festival of Action has become such a big part of our lives at Greenpop," says Lauren, "It feels very powerful to bring so many like-minded, inspired people together with a common goal of planting trees and sharing knowledge on the state of our environment and solutions on how we can contribute to conserving our planet. The magic comes from these interactions."Moving into Action
At the heart of Greenpop's ethos is a belief that environmental solutions lie, not in anxiety, which can immobilise, but in positive environmental action. David Nikisi, a forestry student from Zimbabwe who joined the programme in 2015 noted that, while many talk about change, "(Greenpop has) the know-how and (the) action."
That belief in action shapes and guides the eco-education adventure that Greenpop takes its participants on. Individuals who are accepted into the programme explore local and global environmental issues, challenge themselves to find solutions for a greener future, get hands-on permaculture experience, and, together with local participants, plant trees, build using eco-bricks, brighten up schools with environmental murals, grow food forests, set up recycling systems and more.
These actions have a value in and of themselves, but what they unlock within those that attend is a sense of empowerment to change their world - a mental shift that has an impact far beyond participants' time in Livingstone. What's more, the Zambia Festival of Action multiplies the strength of that empowerment by activating people en masse. "When there's a collective source of input and energy, what you create is something amazing," shares Lara Roux, a yoga teacher from Cape Town who attended in 2015." Learn it. Live it.
Learning by doing and developing practical skills are key to the Zambia Festival of Action experience. "When I came here I thought I'd be giving; helping with murals and planting trees, but I think that I've taken more than I've given, because I've learnt so much," said Sonja Meyer, a Fine Art Student from UCT.
Once participants arrive at the Greenpop camp, just outside of Livingstone, they are immersed in a culture of mindfulness. Everything from the vegetarian, locally sourced meals, to the on-site zero-waste upcyling system make for the perfect space to turn green-living into a habit.
Greenpop also believes in the transformative power of fun, which is why they infuse their days of action with playfulness and encourage attendees to treat themselves as sustainably as the environment. Yoga sessions, early morning dance-offs, documentary screenings under the stars, and inspiring talks are all designed to nourish the self.
Gathigia Kinyua, a Kenyan student at St John's College in Johannesburg, joined Greenpop's first School's Programme in 2015 and said, "If you were looking for a new and different experience to connect with nature and with people, this is it."How to Apply
Those that wish to join the Zambia Festival of Action 2016 must fill out an application form. After a review and a brief telephone interview, applicants receive confirmation of whether or not they have been accepted onto the programme and can then proceed to pay their deposit.
Greenpop has also provided a fun alternative way for people to 'pay' for their placement: Trees for Fees, a fundraising initiative whereby attendees get their friends and family to sponsor funds for trees in exchange for a place at the Zambia Festival of Action (eg: funds for 80 trees = a free 1-week placement, funds for 150 trees = a free 2 week placement).More InformationAbout Greenpop:
Greenpop is an award-winning social enterprise on a mission to (re)connect people with our planet - and have fun doing it! They plant trees through urban greening and reforestation projects, spread environmental awareness, and activate people through green festivals and workshops. Greenpop was founded in 2010 and has since planted over 57,000 trees at schools and other urban sites as well as forests and farms across South Africa, Zambia, and Tanzania.
Website - www.greenpop.org
Facebook - www.facebook.com/GreenpopTreevolution
Twitter - @GreenpopSA
Instagram - @GreenpopSA
Youtube - www.youtube.com/user/GreenpopTreevolution