OzGREEN’s Thrive Festival a heartwarming success

Exploring herbs to relax and calm our nervous systems with Laura from Chamomile Natural Health in Thrive Festival’s Nourish Tent. All photos courtesy of And The Trees Photography.

EXCEEDING expectations, OzGREEN’s inaugural Thrive Festival on Saturday 4 March at Bellingen Showground drew hundreds of people in and around Bellingen Shire who came, enjoyed and went happy and inspired.

OzGREEN’s festival headline, Creating Thriving Communities Together, invited and encouraged people to embrace the opportunity to be part of a caring, inclusive and vibrant community.

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Organised by Bellingen-based not-for-profit charity OzGREEN, Thrive Festival aimed to bring the whole community together to create a sense of belongingness after the series of disasters that residents have experienced in recent years.

Festival goers were encouraged to choose from a plethora of free activities spread out over the day and the love and kindness extended by participating groups and people in the community was truly remarkable.

“We’re over the moon with how the day unfolded,” Festival Coordinator Alex Moller told News of the Area.

“It was beautiful to see such a broad cross section of our community mingling together in such a happy and joyful way, after the difficult few years we’ve all had.”

In addition to creating a sense of togetherness, another goal of Thrive was to showcase the wealth of local knowledge and skills available within the Bellingen Shire community.

OzGREEN’s Resilient Communities Coordinator Bruce Naylor told NOTA, “We’re very lucky in Bellingen Shire to have so many passionate groups that can help people prepare for future climate related challenges.

“One of our biggest aims for Thrive was to bring lots of groups together to provide them with an opportunity to network and collaborate.”

Another objective of Thrive was to educate people and to role model various actions that we can all take to live more sustainably.

“The waste generated through over consumption is not good for the environment and is also really unnecessary,” Festival Manager Kathleen Hannah told NOTA.

“Because of this, we decided to do everything we possibly could to eliminate festival waste.

“This involved asking all our food vendors to commit to using tableware instead of disposable packaging and asking festival goers to return their tableware to collection stations located throughout the grounds.

“We also asked festival participants to deposit their food waste into strategically positioned compost bins.”

All of this required an enthusiastic team of tableware runners and washing up volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the day.

“I was so inspired by their energy and am very proud to say that we only generated two 240L bins of waste over the entire day and only a fraction of one yellow bin,” Kathleen said.

“The compostable material has also been sent to North Bank Community Gardens to be broken down and eventually used to grow more food.”

With the favourable response to Thrive, OzGREEN is already thinking about ways in which it might be able to secure future funding to run this much-loved event again.

“Thrive was inspiring and uplifting because it demonstrated what we can do when we work together as a collective,” Partnerships Manager Anna Juodvalkis told NOTA.

“So many different people across the community contributed to the day and this is what made it such a success.

“We really need to come together like this more often because it’s such a wonderful way to appreciate and activate some of our finest universal values including love, respect and goodwill towards one and all.”

Thrive 2023 was funded by the NSW State Government via Bellingen Shire Council through the Reconnecting Regional NSW – Communities Events Program.

As a charitable organisation that is committed to working with a wide variety of groups and government agencies, OzGREEN is very grateful and appreciative for this support.


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