Envirofest Singapore

Well, we had a first cheery meeting with representatives of various groups who came down for the briefing at the venue Karen (of NParks) had secured for us at Singapore Botanic Gardens. We started off with a few short updates:

  • Wen Hua brought us up to speed with operations (she was excited and spoke very fast),
  • Karen shared how NParks had grown in its exhibition presentation by learning from others and evaluating each effort in order to maximise the impact of outreach,
  • I explained the value of Envirofest we had recognised and how a little preparation and planning might help and
  • Ria explained the significance of the month of July to NYC and SHINE and how Wen Hua was tapped into that.

The community was easily supportive of the practical plan presented about for Envirofest – with everyone struggling with a full schedule in the year, it will be nice to share one major collaborative effort with everyone that maximises our combined attractions.

So the public will get a buffet table of grassroots and governmental efforts in nature and the environment, green products, animal welfare, and hopefully a peek into sustainable living as well. This time there will be an array of trips and events they can sign up for immediately after. Who says nothing in life is free?!

The array of groups and issues on display will also serve as as educational opportunity for green groups in schools and JCs too. A group could pick 2-3 issues that they might to highlight in their own school – at Envirofest they can tap on some very experienced people and material, as well as study the various communication methods in play over the two days. Many of us have already learnt from each other and have been at this for decades, so what better place for mentorship?

Of course, Envirofest will also be an opportunity for the groups to get to know each other well instead of meeting only during the exhibition itself when we are focusing on attending to the public. These early meetings will allow some coordinated effort and I could see wheels already turning that evening about collaboration during the post-Envirofest offerings!

During the discussion that spontaneously interrupted the introductions through out the 90 minutes, a variety of issues were highlighted and evaluated – it was certainly a great delight discussing such issues with a bunch of very experienced practitioners in the local scene! Most have struggled with the issues and so everyone could recognise the value of practical ideas as well as the difficulties of some realities.

But boy, oh boy, does this bunch have the fire burning in them or what? I am really looking forward to meeting them again!

Yesterday many representatives from various eco groups turned up at Botanic Garden at 7.30 pm to discuss about Envirofest.

When I first reached the foodcourt to meet Jamie at 7.10 pm, I already spotted many greenies among the tables. I must admit I was already getting nervous in meeting these veteran green volunteers. I sincerely hope I can garner their support for Envirofest 2009 (and of course various Envirofest in the coming years). Envirofest is really for them!!

Alright, though I was a bundle of nervous energy, I was very amazed at the attendance of this meeting. There were …

  1. Me!
  2. Siva – Toddycats!
  3. Ria – WildSingapore
  4. Karen – NParks
  5. Shawn Lum – Nature Society
  6. Brandon – NEA
  7. Grant – Green Volunteers
  8. Jaki – Sea Shepherd
  9. Gaytri Meriange – Team Seagrass
  10. Yeow – Vegetarian Society
  11. Andy – Team Seagrass
  12. Ann – Waterways Watch Society
  13. James – ACRES
  14. Ley Kun – Naked Hermit Crabs
  15. Debby – The Hantu Bloggers
  16. Eugene – AsiaIsGreen
  17. Grace – SEC
  18. Sherlene – NJC Greenlink
  19. Jamie
  20. Yunus – Kolam Ayer CC
Meeting with friends of Envirofest

Meeting with friends of Envirofest

That was surely an enthusiastic crowd, everyone had some experience to share, an idea to propose and suggestion for improvement!

I forgot when was the last time I had such a dynamic meeting! Hmmm, this was 100% participation from everyone. WOW~

 

This is the summary of what we had discussed and would follow up on:

  • Participating organisations can showcase their works in various creative form. For eg, SEC suggested the very cool Segway (which I’ve always dreamt of inviting to Envirofest); Sea Shepherd hopes to have a huge inflatable shark on display, marine groups can bring diving gears for kids or youths to try on, Toddycats! will bring down their specimens, Team Seagrass has their seagrass on display too!
  • Besides exhibition on the ground, groups which have any public programmes or stage items can use a timeslot on our stage to ra-ra the crowd. 🙂 I am waiting for Dr Vilma to link me up with Woodlands Ring Primary School, heard that they have a skit to share about eco-living. Any organisations which are keen in putting up something, please feel free to inform me.
  • One of the issues we touched on was the giving out of freebies. Some of us were concerned if we could attract crowds without freebies, some agreed that we could use many other forms to entice our audience. We could work more on this in the coming meetings.
  • My own personal objective is to just to introduce the various nature related projects and trips to the public. So I sincerely hope organisations which have exisiting trips or outings could open at least one session to allow public to sign up during Envirofest. This could be one of the freebies we can give out. For those who don’t do trips, I hope we can come out with some post-event activities with our creativity and capacity.
  • I am still in the midst of applying for grant and venue. Will continue to update everyone~
  • Together with NJC Greenlink, we will continue getting more organisations and clubs to join Envirofest.

No photos but Wen Hua, Karen, Ria, friends and myself had a good discussion – the first time all four of us were together since last August. The important first face to face meeting with nature groups was decided for Thursday, 5th February 2009: 7.30pm at Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG).

There was wireless at SBG so that allowed the registration form to be prepared on the spot. When the rest approve it by tomorrow, it can be sent out along with a blurb to the various groups.

Wen Hua has volunteered to revisit her old job of contacting participants. We needn’t really feel guilty about burdening her—it will be fun to contact the many friends she made over the 2006 and 2008 festivals. And she did convince us that her almost completed final year project and lecture schedule are not in jeopardy so we relented gratefully.

Sherlene and Kaisheng, who are the President and Vice President of Greenlink NJC respectively, met up with me to update each other on the progress of Envirofest.

Greenlink, being the co-organiser of Envirofest 2009, had been actively involved in the past two Envirofests. 🙂 And I was truly excited when this group of young green minds agreed to embark this journey with me.

I mentioned to them that the event has to be postponed to July due to bad funding and venue support and they shared that theirexams will be around that period too. Hmmm … I really hope they have enough manpower to run the show with me on the first weekend of July, but they are still contributing ALOT to this event.

They proposed an art competition for the juniors, which is fantastic, because having children around would make the event more youthful (haha) and we are sure that this can attract many other parents and young families too.

On top of this, Greenlink hopes to gather enough can tabs to hold a “Guess the Number of Can Tabs” competition to engage passers-by.

They have also liaised with NJC Art club to help out in Envirofest as well. 🙂 I am really poor in the designing the publicity material, so the participation of the Art club is really a bonus for us. 🙂

After Envirofest 2008, I dashed off some observations on the Toddycats blog. Amongst the notes was this:

  • Exhibitions of this nature have always been the best time to network and plan, and Envirofest itself was the main topic of discussions that I had with various other groups.
  • Unable to cope with numerous festivals and exhibition requests, I would like at least one major predictable festival that the community can plan, prepare for and collaborate on.
  • Also, to collectively offer activities to the public in the weeks after Envirofest.
  • Everyone I talked to was game, so Wenhua, call for a post-Envirofest debrief!

Wenhua, Ria, Karen and myself, along with Debby met after the first day of IYOR (08/08/08) to catch up with this discussion during Envirofest earlier in July. We sketched out a rough plan in which the nature groups would look to getting a bit more organised so Wenhua can focus on the venue, sposorship and the like. Over email later, Eugene from Asia is Green agreed to do the likewise for green businesses.

Since then, I’ve had a couple more meetings with Wenhua and at the last on 7th January 2009, she updated me about the NJC students who will run this blog, the venue and sponsorship options which have of course dried up with the financial climate. Still, she is about to confirm a date and it will be time for us to get things started very soon…

We agreed that it is extremely important to have a theme for Envirofest, to have a message that we want to bring across. “Celebrating Singapore’s Environment” seems appropriate enough. I like to use this word “celebrating” for Envirofest, because Envirofest is indeed a festival, an event for people to enjoy our own environment.

I have been to so many nature places in Singapore, and none of these places ever disappoint me. 🙂 They range from peaceful forest, lovely walks with bird-eye view to colourful corals. There is surely a place for any moods.

And I just want to share these places with many other people.

Then, there are so many groups promoting Singapore’s environment. These passionate conservationists have been around way before this green movement last year. I was blown away by the kind of solid work that they are working on and whenever I joined them for any activities, they were full of fun and colours. I love it!! It was such a pity that many many Singaporeans do not even know that these places exist.

I want to share this with them. I want to enjoy our own environment together.

And Envirofest is the best way I could do this. To bring first-timers to enjoy our environment, to let them know more about what our own local environmental groups have been doing for our little exotic island.

After two Envirofests (2006 and 2008), I am even more sure of my mission for this. So, I am working hard towards the next one – Envirofest 2009!

I met up with Siva, Ria and Karen on 8/8/2008 to discuss about Envirofest. The aim was to come up with plans, ideas and strategies to make Envirofest an annual event, i.e. a sustainable event. 🙂

I was secretly delighted because I knew with their many experiences, powerful contacts and contagious passion, the next Envirofest would definitely be a better one.

They are very kind to offer to help me out with the planning of Envirofest. 🙂 They would be able to gather the environmental groups together for a tighter collaboration, in the hope of coming up with more meaningful and interesting programmes throughout the two days of event.

We brainstormed the following:

1) a quiz which the public can go around each booth to get answers

2) story-telling by children for children

3) interactive booths and exhibits

4) presentation of awards to volunteers (e.g. Most Creative, Best Blogger, Most Garang)

etc etc and etc… …

On my side, my committee is working on getting the venue. We decided to try shopping centres like Suntec, Bugis Junction or Plaza Singapura. If none of them is willing to be the venue supporter by end of Jan, I would go get HDB Hub Mall, which was also the venue for Envirofest 2006. 🙂

Although I have this special thing for HDB Hub (haha, it being the place where Envirofest was born), I prefer the shopping centres where we can find more youths and young families. They are my target audience! So I shall pray very hard and hope we can land a more hip venue for Envirofest. 🙂

Good news!! Eugene from AsiaIsGreen is willing to help us liaising with the eco companies. That is great! We all feel that the eco companies are an important component of Envirofest. After knowing more about the kinds of eco products available, the public can make a more conscious decision when buying daily consumption products.