Saturday, December 31, 2016

When You Know You're Right...

  It's was 38 degrees in my Office the day I started this post writing, with a fan on and the hint of a breeze wafting through the open door. It's an example of me avoiding the air con option while I can as I actually like this weather. I don't mind a cold drink, a swim or the end of such a day with a cool change and an iced coffee as well!! But in the meantime it's definitely summer, it burns colds away and gives value for effort in your exercise... I digress...

   Yurora 2017 [the current inventive 'iteration' of the UCA's national youth event formerly identified as NCYC now in a  three year cycle] kicks off at Stanwell Tops 8th January. I'm not involved [apart from spreading the word and encouraging young people to get onboard] and not planning to participate at this stage. That's a bit of a transition as I haven't missed one since my first in 1987...

My friends went to Adelaide 1985 but I had no money or time off...

1987 Ballarat
1989 Perth
1991 Toowoomba
1993 Canberra
1995 Adelaide
1997 Launceston
1999 Geelong
2001 Brisbane
2003 Newcastle
2005 Gawler
2007 Perth
2009 Melbourne
2011 Gold Coast

   Like many others I've offered Community Leadership, Chaplaincy, alt.worship, Bible Study Interactives with Teams, Elective Workshops, Organising and Mentoring...

   This is an event that's brought us into contact with Desmond Tutu, Jim Wallis, Grace Imathui, Pete Rollins and Jules Hamilton and many more outstanding contributors!! Tutu and Wallis are still two of the best communicators I've heard.

   At least [3] times in the latter half of this time I participated in 'consultations' and conversations about the future models for the event sparked by the universal missional challenges facing the church. These presented as declining numbers, theological wrestles, affordability and sustainability of the planning and leadership models for a rotating event "reinventing the wheel" in every hosting cycle.

   Inspired by listening and discernment, the effective reinvention of "Blackstump" and other similar events we advocated for: change; choice; flexible accomodation and catering options; and that the "givens" in the manual had to change for the event to survive and prosper.

Among things we were convinced of:
- convention style had run it's course and the price ceiling had been reached
- 75% of attenders needed a subsidy/fundraising component [lots of Fredo Frogs]
- Most attenders are first timers
- 'Choice' was working in Festivals as the adjectives of intimacy changed for a generation
- Praxis would allow deeper learning through middle day immersions
- Commercial food choices and a variety of accomodation could allow different budgets
- We were very anglo despite best efforts [up front and in authentic engagement]
- Festivals can pack more in for less days
- Whole Convention Gatherings didn't need to be everyday

Imposed major changes have only happened in my time when the host is onboard e.g lower age, community style, middle day programs, self catering and tents again, digital music, festival style.

On the back of 2003 in Newcastle which offered the inspired 'Carthedral' but also using the middle day to explore agencies and people serving others in the local community [with all the January shutdown challenges and groups not quite 'getting' what we were asking... you know, we wanted to genuinely listen and hear their story. A small crew worked crazily to make that happen. It was breaking out of a christendom envisaged presence in the host town.

I'm most proud that it sparked others to "do even better" e.g to not just see a soup kitchen operating but to serve soup [in WA] and then to stage social justice actions from common good partnerships with community organisations through existing networks in Vic/Tas... that was the hope when we started... that others would take our idea and do it even bigger!!

There are loads more things about NCYC that have been landmarks, brilliant and everything it means to be UCA...

I'm still inspired by the creativity and cultural/artistic/generational brilliance of Canberra's "On the Edge of the Night" evening experiences. Tim Winton readings, music clips and live bands, varied speakers, drama, story and art in themed material that invited you to think, imagine, connect and make meaning. These were shaping experiences for what I've advocated for decades since in accessing the arts, story and pop culture to tell our story...

I also understood the privilege of wrangling teams to do two experimental Bible Studies in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast... you can keep your talking head hour long lectures!!

Anyhow, I step back and take a break knowing I saw Yurora happen last time and a vision for change actually work... Festival style... by people and in ways better than we ever imagined, as expected!!

I contributed an interactive story space going old school with TV monitors for video, art, props, shoes, a message box, photo booth etc and I got to see 'The Commons' nail it for village community and hospitality!!

This whole year I've known I had nothing creative bubbling up to offer. I would happily offer to do transport, toilets, ushering etc etc no problem. BUT I just feel I need to step away, to be on holidays and maybe be able to have a circuit breaker for next time with renewed energy and maybe even an attender or two in tow!! I look forward to hearing and seeing the story unfold [I won't miss some of the style of the event, after all I wasn't suggesting a Festival I'd enjoy, one that 18-25s would]... I think I knew at the end of the last Yurora I wouldn't be at this one for all the above reasons. It's important to reflect, take time and decide... when you know you're right!!

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