Avalon is a gorgeous property in the rolling hills of western South Carolina, surrounded by farmland and the stunning Lake Hartwell. The sacred attunement of the forests and river resonate in the spirit of the land. Tribal Council Collective, a conscious event production crew based in Asheville, NC, chose this magical location to host their third annual Campout on the weekend of May 14th. The Campouts of 2012 and 2013 were small, private events of 200 friends and family from around the southeast. The idea from the beginning was to create a low budget, family-friendly weekend event without hiring any outside talent. All musical and workshop offerings were gifts from members of the tribe. The focus was on connecting and growing rather than on the frills of bright lights and headlining musicians. While the third installment saw a handful of international artists added to the bill, the event kept the same homey feeling. This year’s gathering, being the first publicly promoted event, capped ticket sales at seven hundred based on the idea that smaller gatherings have the potential to offer the most potent experiences, catalyze meaningful conversations, and create deep, lasting relationships; the setting was ripe for intimate “Kinnections” before the event began.
Photo Credit: Clayton Gaar
Inspired by gatherings like Awaken, Beloved, and Tribal Alliance Retreat, Kinnection Campout was every bit as transformational as it set out to be and more. On the first day of the event, there was no amplified music. Instead, the “Day of Kinnections” took place as an opportunity to facilitate in-depth community engagement. The networking and growth exercises left serious ripples with the co-participants as they took a journey through Joanna Macy’s “The Work That Reconnects,” a “Perma-Transformational-Culture” discussion panel, a Tribal Convergence Network-inspired Guild Breakout session, and an Open Space Technology social experiment. All of these exercises were tied together by Whole System Design, in which the growth edges of the conversations became seeds for new topic directions that grew into collaborative new paradigm resolutions.
For example, the Perma-Transformational-Culture panel (which you can listen to here) explored ways in which we can design our festivals and gatherings on private land with permaculture principles to seed ecovillage communities and regenerative demonstration and education centers. In the panel, Clayton Gaar, founder of Tribal Council Collective, explained his vision for the future of Kinnection Campout, which integrates forest gardening, compostable toilets, and other permaculture projects onsite as an active part of the event. The intention is for participants to leave a permanent positive trace through these projects during the four day Campout (and possibly during a 5 day permaculture intensive course on-site prior to the Campout, which is being trialed this July on a homestead in North Georgia, see Kinnection Permaculture Intensive) while learning valuable life hacks and homesteading skills. This concept is as cutting edge as it gets for transformational events.
Friday morning brought a variety of yoga practices, workshops, and interactive exercises. The Ceremony Village was comprised of geodesic domes that housed a healing center, a temple, a wellness center, a tea lounge, and one large focal tent hosted by Columinate, a local co-op style organization that serves as an urban hub for transformational culture in downtown Asheville, NC. The village felt like a university campus for New Earth visionaries and holistic awakenings. The workshops continued until late Friday afternoon, until the energy coalesced at the Earth Stage for the opening ceremony, led by Ehren Cruz of Solpurpose, who led the participants through a neo-tribal blessing for the land and a calling-in of the directions in a Peruvian tradition.
The next three evenings were full with pioneers in conscious bass music, video projection mapping, theatre performance, live painters, and on the other end of the land, a sacred fire and sweat lodge to hold prayer space until sunrise each day. The sacred fire, which was tended by firekeepers until the closing ceremony on Sunday, was appropriately lit at the staff sweat lodge on Wednesday night where the core production staff shared strong prayers for the gathering to come. On Friday and Saturday, the evening incubated the energy of the full moon above until Desert Dwellers and Random Rab greeted new days with their classic refreshing sunrise sets.
On Sunday morning, as Rab serenaded a blissful crowd freshly blessed with a morning shower from Gaia, Kinnection 2015 was foreshadowed when the dancefloor initiated a massive celebratory “work” party by voluntarily grabbing and distributing straw bales across the rain-soaked red clay earth to absorb the small rivers forming before the stage. The abundance of water and life mirrored the flow of heartfelt consciousness blossoming into a new dawn.
Tribal Council is a pioneer in community activation and positive trace gatherings in the Southeast, a place where most festival producers are still learning what composting is and won’t dare schedule yoga classes at their events. With Kinnection Campout, this organization showed the transformational community what the future of music festivals and conscious gatherings are going to look like. It served as a wonderful reminder that the days when going to a music festival meant taking synthetic substances, “raging” all night, and wandering hungover and disoriented through a mass of strangers are behind us. Before us are the days where we gather consciously to express our collective creativity and planetary regeneration with kombucha and yoga fueled permaculture art parties. Kinnection made this prospective dream a working presence. When the iconic “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” vocal sample resonated from the Earth Stage speakers, it became clear that the Southeast transformational community truly is on the cusp of a New Era, from the root to the crown, from the farm to the dancefloor.