A Harbourfest Reflection
By Anthony Halliwell
Having seen the opportunity to join Happy City and to help with the 'madness' of organising and running the Amphitheatre area of the Harbour Festival at 'last minute' notice with almost no budget, I could not resist volunteering..I threw myself in head first and was so glad I did.
With two weeks to go when I made it to the office at 77 Stokes Croft I was excited and inspired by what I found; the ideas, positivity and philosophy for creating a happier, more sustainable city that I'd been reading about on the Happy City website a few days ago were coming to life right before my eyes and now I was a part of it – brilliant!
I joined a bustling team of volunteers in an environment where everybody's ideas were listened to and considered, people's various experience and expertise was welcomed (and very quickly put to use!) and things got done. Groups were invited, people were excited, space was organised, concepts were developed for informing, entertaining and involving the public...The preparation and build-up was just as dramatic at times as the weekend itself; yet it was no miracle that it all came together – rather, it was many people coming together, passionately, with a common goal, around a shared purpose and it was incredible to see and be involved with.
This sense of camaraderie and making a difference was encapsulated perfectly over the two days of the Festival, which were fun, chaotic, demanding, varied..and successful..what a buzz! As Happy City volunteers we were responsible for supporting the organisations present, proactively engaging with the public who were visiting, supporting one another (very important) and generally keeping the show on the road which meant there was always a new challenge to take on.
By the end of the weekend on which the sun had shone unstintingly, gloriously, we could sit back and reflect on the smiling faces, encouraging noises from many groups and organisations and, perhaps most importantly, words of support and understanding for the 'ethos' of the event – how to make a happier, more sustainable city - from many people, new to the project. That was a triumphant feeling; real proof of the power of people to achieve great things without great resources. And fun..lots of fun!