Mama Gathering: Sisterhood in the forest
Going to Mama Gathering, we did not quite know what we were signing up for. We did know that we were going to speak about conscious fashion and the unethical dark side of the textile industry. We assumed that we could expect something in style with Garden Gathering that we attended and for which we curated the sustainable market in a December 2018. But we had no idea that we were going to learn about sisterhood, community, motherhood and sustainability that would resonate and let its echo sound through WOMB’s work and profile. Read on to find out what happened in the forest...
We are all connected... like the mycelium
The first lecture we attended during the festival was a session with Mycohood. It is a collective of three women whose passion for... fungus brought them together. To be completely honest, we did not know what to expect from this entry (especially because we happened to have missed Holy Shrooms’ talk at The Garden Gathering last year), we were maybe hoping to hear a bit about psilocybin and listen to a few stories from some perception-widening journeys that may or may not have happened under the influence of magic mushrooms.
The lecture started with a manifesto. A manifesto on... sustainability. And the manifesto explained how WE are sustainable, circular. How we are the problem and the solution at the same time. The manifesto read by Natalia was a call to action, but also an urge for a more empathetic approach to ourselves, each other, our planet. The moment we realise we are all interconnected, not only as human beings but as particles, meaning that we are connected with everything that surrounds us (yes, also with space, because space is particles).
The second part of the lecture focused more on the bio aspect of the mycelium network, the girls spoke about “wood wide web”, pointing out how the mycelium connections resemble our internet. Or wait, it’s the other way around, really. It was a beautiful and very well curated presentation of the biodiversity of our planet, and it gave the (mostly urban) audience loads of food for thought. The last part of the presentation focused on the links in our nature, explaining how “birds and bees” work together and why we need all those links. If there wasn’t a need for something in nature, it wouldn’t have been created. And homo sapiens tend to forget that.
The lecture was frank and very uplifting, and we could feel the genuinely and the passion of the Mycohood collective. Watch out for an interview with Natalia, the author of the manifesto, coming up on Womb’s editorial soon!
All the eco jazz in between
In between the lectures and workshops (some of them were strictly focused on eco-living, eg. a zero waste and DYI workshop for children!), we simply meandered around the festival, admiring not only the execution, but also all the green steps and precautions that have been taken for/during the gathering. Here are a few:
The “Mama Food” kitchen (main food “court” during the festival) as well as two smaller cafés were serving only vegan food. In service if the planet and the attendees!
Segregation trash bins were all over the campsite.
Participants were encouraged to bring their own dishes with them, if they didn’t have their own food containers, they would receive biodegradable single-use plates. Alternatively, the participants could choose to buy a “service festival kit” containing plates and cutlery made of sturdy, yet biodegradable material.
The local restaurant was convinced not to serve meat during the festival. An Italian restaurant that operated completely independently from the Gathering agreed to change their menu for the duration of the Mama Gathering, so no meat was served when the festival took place.
Sustainable market: the little marketplace with over 40 small brands was showcasing only local producers and small manufacturers. The makers were often present themselves, introducing their missions and visions and chatting to their customers and the curious stall-visitors. The marketplace wasn’t cruelty-free, there were leather products (eg. leather elements in tribal jewellery) as well as wool garments, but there was an overall spirit of “slow”, and of course a couple brands that specially caught our attention.
Brands that impressed us
As usually, after a festival with a sustainable market (which we checked out quite thoroughly), we have a few highlights for you!
The first to catch our attention was “Śpij Dobrze” by Konstancja Górska. Our eyes landed on beautiful pillows with natural linen covers, and then we found out that the pillows were stuffed with buckwheat or spelt seeds, as an alternative to natural or fake feathers made of synthetic fibres (most commonly polyester, a blend of cotton and polyester, if you’re “lucky”). The seeds contribute to the right/healthy head placement during sleep assuring natural and comfortable head position for your night’s rest.
We spent way too much time browsing through the stuff displayed by Aura Nomada. Beautiful clothes (not entirely vegan, but made solely of natural fibres like Nepalese hemp, bamboo, yak wool or Indian cotton), accessories, incense… We got completely lost. A part of Aura Nomada’s manifesto is not to use any chemical dyes, so the garments are coloured with turmeric, indigo or tamarind! Aura Nomada is committed to producing goodwill products in a goodwill manner. Their clothes are natural, fit different sizes, different body-types; the design as well as the message behind the brand are simple and transparent.
Another highlight was Bubu Candles. Presented in beautiful, recycling friendly packaging, the scent candles are hand-made of vegan soy wax mixed with pure, natural essential oils. The brand has not only thought about the sustainability of the products itself, but also about eco-friendly packaging. The candles come in beautiful reusable bags made of jute fibre!
The Holistic Gathering
Coming from mycelium through eco-work and sustainable businesses, it might be difficult for you readers to visualise what Mama Gathering was. An event that sums it up quite well is a cacao ceremony we attended. Led by Dorota from HeART, it was a ceremony and celebration of union, peace and interconnectedness. Dorota’s cacao is carefully sourced from a manufacturer in South America that she knows personally and has worked with since a long time. Believing in the sacred and healing powers of cacao, Dorota also makes sure that the product comes from an ethical source, following the belief that if we possess something in an unethical way, the negative energy will transfer.
Part two of the ceremony was a genuine, straightforward eye-gazing session where we met with strangers and simply looked them in the eyes. Magical things were happening. People started to cry, laugh, strangers exchanged hugs, everyone was smiling. It was a beautiful lesson of human resonance with each other, but also with nature. A trigger to the selfish, materialist mind that operates constantly wanting more, regardless the cost.
It might be abstract to think that a session of eye-gazing and a drink of cacao triggered thoughts on sustainability and eco-living, but it did! Before we start acting, we must be determined in our minds, we must know why we act, why we are to change our behaviour, reverse the mainstream, step out of the comfort zone. If we indeed believed that we are all one, we would not want to harm the planet or other people. If we really believed that the sea turtles who get hurt by the pieces of plastic rubbish in our oceans are a part of “us” because we are all one and same eco-system, one and same body, we would think twice before “switching on the autopilot” and reaching for yet another plastic bag or plastic-packaged shampoo.