Sussex, September 2008

This is a small festival held in mid-September which describes itself as follows:

“When you step into the Out of the Ordinary Festival you are stepping into another dimension – a place of ancient knowledge, healing, inspiration and love….a combination of healing events and ceremonies, amazing workshops & talks, live music, healthy food and drink and an incredible vibe, all set in the beautiful fields and woodland of the Sussex Downs. Be part of history and join us in celebrating the autumn equinox full moon as it rises over the peace circle. OOTO is about healing, education and entertainment. OOTO is a family and community event.”

The site is a fairly level mown wild flower meadow at the top of a hill surrounded by trees. There are some brambles and clumps of rushes. All camping, events and attractions are very close together.

The heart of the festival is a ceremonial circle around a fire. There are other circles near and beyond the healing area. All the circles, stalls and cafes are imaginatively decorated using a lot of natural and recycled materials. There are two stages in marquees, a marquee for talks and a children’s area.

The GAMA (Green Access &Mobility Area) is at one end of the field. We have a small marquee, three wide access toilets, a shower, a sink and piped water. There was a compost toilet nearby for people able to manage steps.

We had parking for campervans as a well as room for tents. The twelve GAMA crew camped with our visitors.

GAMA services at OOTO:

  • Marking the area with signs posts and fencing.
  • Checking that fire lanes were kept clear.
  • Creating and marking a clear route from GAMA to the rest of the festival.
  • Making sure the wide access toilets were not used by people who did not need them
  • Helping a visitor to set up a large tent for friends who were camping nearby
  • Making a walking stick from the branch of a tree.
  • Filling the water tank of a campervan.
  • Putting up an awning.
  • Marking guy ropes which could have been a trip hazard.
  • Removing brambles from the grass near a campervan
  • Changing a gas bottle.
  • Reporting a lost bag to security (this was found by the visitor).
  • Helping to run the crew café.
  • Helping a stall holder who has recurrent back pain to pack up.
  • Building tables for visitors to prepare meals in the marquee at a comfortable safe height rather than on the ground

The OOTO organisers managed to provide nearly all the infrastructure we asked for. We look forward to working with them again.

Suggestions for OOTO and similar festivals

  • If mains electricity is not available, GAMA needs a relatively quiet generator for charging wheelchairs, providing hot drinks and warm water and pumping for showers. Small wind and solar systems are not adequate for this because we need to ensure 100% reliability, but can be used with a generator for backup.
  • Drainage for sinks is essential to keep the area around taps dry.
  • We suggest all visitors are encouraged to bring solar lights and wind-up torches to light paths and hazards.
  • Toilets, rubbish and recycling facilities need to be set up in time for crew arriving to set up.
  • Chairs are needed in performance venues, cafes, workshops and open spaces for people who cannot stand for long.
  • On the website, and in a leaflet sent out with tickets, should give full information for visitors with disabilities.

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