Small Is .. festival 2009

The Small Is... Festival 2009, celebrating the ideas of EF Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful, was a great success! Thank you to all those who attended and contributed to make this event the inspiring, informative and fun event that it was! You can see a brief selection of what happened below, but for more photos, please see our Facebook page.

Even more have been loaded on to Picasaweb - here are Natalia's and Raffa's.

5-6 September 2009

This little gem of a festival ran for the first time in 2009 due to the joint efforts of Engineers Without Borders UK and Practical Action. Over 250 people came along, many of them camping in Practical Action's beautiful grounds. It was a jam packed weekend full of learning, sharing, practical workshops, inspiring debates and not to mention lots of fun!

The festival explored the development of the ideas put forward in EF Schumacher's book Small Is Beautiful (1973). The main debates centred around his views on economics, appropriate technology, politics and personal philosophy. A good range of speakers held the audience's attention on such diverse topics as - Economics as if people mattered?; Small is appropriate technology?; The future of food in a changing climate; and What does it mean for me to be involved in development?

There were also opportunities for more focused discussion and information sharing sessions on community mapping, global/local food, transition towns, markets and livelihoods, climate change adaptation and how to go Zero Carbon. Whilst the hands on workshops attracted enthusiastic involvement from all, with activities ranging from the construction of rocket stoves, solar systems and batteries, testing cookstoves, building a hexayurt (see Vinay's blog on the experience), and appropriate toilet construction. Children were kept well occupied in the Arts & Crafts centre or in making the Wendy Geodome. And there was ample entertainment in the Solar Cinema tent where The Edge of the Forest was one of the most popular films shown over the weekend - inspiring stuff.

Entertainment was also in abundance with music from Zambian group Kamoto Community Arts followed by a lively ceildh in the evening plus an amazing open-mic session that brought out some previously unseen talent - this weekend had it all.

We had a lot of positive feedback:

The best festival for years - a celebration of practical approaches, solutions, people - please do it again - we need more festivals like this! I just wanted to write and say a huge THANK YOU!! It was agreat event and I hope you felt how much it was appreciated by everyone. I think it was actually a very, very special occasion and I am so glad I was there!
Blanche Cameron

It's been quite a massive weekend and everything was fantastic. So please, we as an organisation called Xamoto Community Arts, are very impressed and the way this festival call Small is festival has been running things, we will go and tell our colleagues in Zambia about it.
Remmy Murshya, John Sakalo, Cathern Lungu

Amazing, inspiring weekend of practical skills, learning, networking and debate. Organisers have done an incredible job and felt like lots of ownership amongst all who attended. Will send more comments.
Emily Polack

Small is … has been fantastic. It's informality is a strength - don't grow too big, but I look forward to next year's event. Food was fantastic, open-mic inspiring - lots of great conversations and ideas. Many thanks to all the team.

I just wanted to thank you for such a great weekend and for all of the effort that you put into making it all happen. The activities and talks were all enjoyable as well as informative and the whole festival really struck a fantastically relaxed balance between being both educational and a lot of good fun!
Sachi Findlater

Participation, talks, workshops and stalls were from Practical Action, Engineers without Borders UK, architecture sans frontieres, Developing Technologies, Garden Organic, Hedon, RedR UK, Simpol UK, Canalside Community Food, Transition Town Leamington, One World Link, The Yoga Project, Traidcraft stalls, CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology), Tikambilanie, DEW Point, Zero Carbon Caravan, RESET, EcoU, Red Button Design, WEDC, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Centre for African Studies: University of Edinburgh and others.

Events included:

Speakers: Diana Schumacher former president of the Schumacher Society and daughter-in-law of EF Schumacher; Peter Guthrie, Professor of Engineering for Sustainable Development, University of Cambridge; James Smith, Director, Centre for African Studies; Paul Ekins, currently lectures at UCL Energy Institute; Simon Trace, Chief Executive, Practical Action; Andrew Scott, Policy and Programs Director, Practical Action; Julia Wright, Head of International Development, Garden Organic; Patrick Mulvany, Senior Policy Adviser, Practical Action; Tom Ingall, part-time grower and manager of Canalside Community Food; and Mike Clifford, Associate Professor at the School of Mechanical Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Nottingham.

Workshops and Displays: A model micro-hydro scheme, composting toilet workshop and exhibition, art activities for kids, charcoal burning and briquetting, participatory market mapping and playing the market chain game, wind turbine display, the biodiesel campervan, water purification demonstration, organic gardening and seed saving, improved cookstove tests, climate change adaptation training, going Zero Carbon, solar PV system demos, building batteries, reviewing biogas for humanitarian and development work, and making rocket stoves.

To see the full programme of activities please download the Small Is ... festival programme 2009.

This event was organised by Practical Action and Engineers Without Borders.

If you would like to comment on the event, or for further information on future events, email or leave them on our Facebook page

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