Community

Festival of Open Minds – starting conversations, building community

Lisa Herbert 12 August 2019
350 people packed the Bega Civic Centre in 2018 for the Festival of Open Minds. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

350 people packed the Bega Civic Centre in 2018 for the Festival of Open Minds. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Passionate people drive our communities, our businesses, our creativity. Skippered by Ian Campbell, About Regional, like many small businesses in Southern New South Wales, is powered by a small, passionate team.

We love our community, we look for ways to support and promote our people and organisations through articles and interviews, telling their stories, and now with an event designed to inspire, expand and energise our hearts and minds – The Festival of Open Minds.

In order to present this festival to you, we looked to partner with similarly community-minded organisations and business leaders.

But first a little bit of background. In 2016, radio broadcaster Ian Campbell left his position with ABC South East NSW and set out to establish a new media service focussing on local news and stories, thus About Regional was born; which this month is on track to reach 55,000 unique visitors – real people.

In 2012 Erica & Nick Dibden bought the empty ABC Dairy and now make TIlba Cheese in Tilba. Photo: Supplied

In 2012 Erica & Nick Dibden bought the empty ABC Dairy and now make Tilba Cheese in Tilba. Photo: Supplied

After partnering with the Bega Civic Centre to present the Sydney TEDx live stream talk-fest, Ian wanted to try something more interactive, more local and more real. The first Festival of Open Minds followed in September 2018 and created a huge buzz.

Reflecting on the 2018 Festival Ian says, “about 350 people turned up, all the early bird tickets sold out, there was really a terrific response.” This gave Ian the confidence that About Regional, the regional stories journal, did have a role to play and a future in the region.

The intention of the Festival of Open Minds is to bring people together to share an experience and build understanding and knowledge. This year under the theme, “People with Oomph” on Saturday, September 14, and Bega Civic Centre.

“We live in a time of overwhelming amounts of digital information, About Regional is part of that,” Ian laughs.

“But I really hope we go beyond the clutter and help people talk about some of the stories of our time, the stuff we are all confused and bamboozled about, stuff that needs to be talked through, and community events and conversation helps us to process what’s going on in the world.

“As far as the Festival of Open Minds goes, it was the connections made in the foyer or sprawled over the gardens at lunchtime, eating and chatting, that added depth to the experience.

We are proud of our award winning producers, as good as it gets. North of Eden Gin. Photo: David Rogers

We are proud of our award winning producers, as good as it gets. North of Eden Gin. Photo: David Rogers

“More and more people are feeling isolated, for all sorts of reasons, people coming together to share an experience creates a bond. There’s sometimes a magic that happens within an event and the people there are all privy to this shared moment – isolation is broken.”

Leading the conversations in 2019:

  • Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision;
  • Nas Campanella, blind Triple J newsreader;
  • Pastor Christie Buckingham, spiritual counselor to executed Bali 9 drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran;
  • Aly Khalifa, founder of Oceanworks, focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans;
  • Emma Booth, para-equestrian competitor, represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics;
  • Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, comedian, joke writer, grew up in Tathra;
  • Sassi Nuyum, aka Meaghan Holt, rising Aboriginal writer, performer.

With more announcements to come.

To support the Festival of Open Minds 2019, we approached twelve organisations, big and small, operating in our region, people and businesses we felt were trading in what is great about where we live. Each business is building skills, creating sustainable entities, and viable businesses that contribute to community life and health.

“Without sponsorship the Festival wouldn’t happen. We’re grateful to the organisations and people who see value in bringing communities together,” Ian says.

REX is helping Festival of Open Minds by literally bringing the speakers to us! Photo: supplied

REX is helping the Festival of Open Minds by literally bringing the speakers to us! Photo: supplied

Normally we would have to travel to the city, or pay a high ticket price for an event like this. Our speakers are also keen to come here to interact with regional audiences, and our sponsors have made it possible.

We are very proud and excited to be working with Southern Phone Company. This amazing company is one of the largest and most successful providers of fixed line, mobile and internet communications services in regional Australia.

Formed in 2002, only Australian Local Government Councils can hold shares in Southern Phone Company. Dividends are paid to Local Government shareholders and used for the benefit of their local communities. As well as providing more than 130 jobs at their Moruya head office Southern Phone has returned millions of dollars to regional communities since they declared their first dividend in 2009.

Erica and Nic Dibden of Tilba Real Dairy believes in looking after the land and the soil that grows their food. This dynamic duo has created a much-loved dairy business using creamy milk from their equally loved herd of charming Jersey cows.

REX Airlines are literally bringing our inspiring speakers to us, and returning them safely home. In true valley hospitality Rob and Lesley White at Tathra Beach House are again providing accommodation for our speakers and their families, giving them beautiful beds in a delightful environment, and the local property experts at Julie Rutherford Real Estate who were About Regional’s very first advertisers three years ago deepen their commitment to regional stories through Open Minds 2019.

Julie Rutherford is passionate about her business, and where she lives - Bermagui. Photo: Supplied

Julie Rutherford is passionate about her business, and where she lives – Bermagui. Photo: Supplied

Bega Valley Shire Library and Bega Valley Regional Gallery are co-presenting our first spectacular launch evening in Littleton Gardens and the Gallery space. ‘Parklight’ will see Littleton Gardens transformed into a magical wonderland to launch the Festival on Friday, September 13 from 6 pm. Get ready for a night of projections, soundscapes, live performance, music and dance created and installed by local youth from the Bermagui Create and Make Crew, this special event will also feature a projection from Sydney’s Vivid festival and the launch of South East Interference Vol 3, Shivanjani Lal’s, described as incense your spirit must burn. We’ll be releasing more info about this event soon.

Business growth experts the Bega Valley Innovation Hub are supporting us, also the pro-active Waste Department of Bega Valley Shire Council and the Port Authority of NSW.

Sapphire Coast Regional Science Hub has offered a prize to an attending student on the day. The winner will be able to take a group of mates on a science based experience. Don’t forget – students from 12 – 19 years can attend the Festival for FREE, go HERE to reserve your spot.

We see these businesses and people as partners in growing a strong community. Each is involved in a specific way, including a fabulous band of producers, our ‘Regional Food Sponsors’ which includes Tilba Real Dairy, and also Bermagui’s beautiful Honorbread Sourdough, Bega’s own award-winning gin distillery North of Eden, Mystery Bay’s chemical-free food producers Figtree Food Company and burgeoning olive oil outlet Verona Road Olive Grove.

As our fearless leader Ian Campbell says “it’s people stepping up and making things happen, people with oomph that drive regional communities.”

To explore our speaker’s program and get your tickets head to the Festival of Open Minds websiteEarly bird tickets sales close August 14!

To inquire about partnering with About Regional in the future email – [email protected] or [email protected]

What's Your Opinion?

Top