While down in London I also took up the opportunity to meet with a lady named Ruth who is the project manager at Loudsound Events who deal with RockNess music festival. RockNess is staged annually in the picturesque location of the banks of Loch Ness near Inverness, and can accommodate in the region of 30,000 festival-goers. (Can you believe that this is classed as a ‘small’ festival?!)
Prior to my visit to London, I had been attempting to get in contact with festival for months in an endeavour to engage them in my co-design process. By working with a specific festival to tackle the issue of abandoned tents, I hoped that I would also be given the opportunity to undertake some abandoned tent reduction trials at the festival itself. For me, the planning and implementing of these trials would be key to my project, as involving the organisers and the campers, and gaining feedback from them could only help to strengthen the project outcome and make it as effective as possible. I also needed to seize this valuable opportunity well in advance, as obviously festivals only come round once a year.
Luckily, my efforts paid off, and with the assistance of A Greener Festival, I was put in touch with Ruth at Loudsound Events who was keen to hear my alternative and engaging approach to the problem. Ruth would also be attending the Green Events and Innovations Conference so we arranged to have a lunchtime meeting to run through some of my proposals.
As I knew that we only had a short period of time for meeting, and our discussions would probably take place over a sandwich, I decided it would be the most appropriate to present in a compact, easy to handle format. I had already presented some of my ‘knowledge swatches’ as festival lanyards and it seemed quite fitting to continue this festival related format.
I put together three separate lanyard prototypes; one which covered giving festival-goers more responsibility, another which provides incentives for campers to take their tents home, and finally a fun publicity stunt which would engage festival-goers in the environmental issue once they returned home from the festival.
Each of the lanyards was in the format of a series of laminated cards, which were then clipped together in a pack with a neck strap. Each pack of cards told a story of how each prototype would work, with each individual card communicating a single stage through image and text. The idea was that while discussing each prototype with Ruth, we could unclip the cards, lay them out on the table if we wished and create the desired prototype through mixing and matching the cards from each lanyard. They proved to be appropriate and effective as they stimulated discussion and Ruth and I were able to quickly eliminate or incorporate certain ideas.
Firstly, I ran through the prototype with Ruth which discussed the idea of providing incentives for the festival-goer, so for example, having the festival equivalent of a clubcard to reward when appropriate. One of the things we both got really excited about planning on doing this by branding the tent with a stamp of festival attendance, possibly upon the checkout of the event so that a well-travelled tent would eventually become a representation of all festivals attended – rather like a passport. The tent owner will then have bragging rights and a personal connection with the tent which should be an incentive for the owner to wish to hold on to it.
We then focused on the lanyard which promoted the concept of giving festival-goers a feeling of being more accountable for their actions by awarding them the ownership of their own camping ‘plots’. We agreed that campers should take more responsibility, so we discussed the possibility of the promotion of ‘plot pride’ through establishment of a Facebook page or similar for each camping zone at Rockness. Users could be encouraged to check-in and post photos of their new camping friends and communities within their tidy plot areas. Rewards (such as early-bird ticket booking) could be offered for those with the best-kept plots and users could reconnect with their ‘neighbours’. It would also act as an accessible platform for Rockness to educate people on tent reuse, and in the future it would be great to see people uploading and showing off their tents covered in festival attendance brandings, signalling that they have reused their tents many times.
And finally, in order to kick off the ‘plot pride’ and tent branding campaigns once they are refined and established, Ruth and I discussed the idea of a Yes Men inspired publicity stunt to capture the imagination of the festival-goers. Tents would seemingly be scanned in and out of the festival and staged scenarios after the festival would make it seem like abandoned tents had been re-dumped in tent offenders’ gardens or workplaces, rather like the tent had come back to haunt them. The scenarios would then be made viral through the online communites and media. Eventually they be revealed as a hoax but ultimately they would raise awareness and kick off the tent reuse campaigns in a humorous way.
By refining these three prototypes over the next few weeks so that they are all interconnecting smoothly and efficiently, a three-pronged approach to the abandonment of festival tents will be established in time for trial at RockNess festival. The system for trial should make the message of tent re-use clear to the festival-goers and they should also given rewards and incentives when appropriate. Festivals are also essentially all about having a good time, and festival-goers will become disengaged if the environmental message is overly heavy, and their attentions should be brought to a this serious environmental issue in a fun, memorable and engaging way.
Through this long-term tent branding and ‘plot pride’ campaign, and short-term publicity stunt, my end goal is to change the mentality of the fesitval-goers so they establish a connection and have a meaningful relationship with their tent, and ultimately re-use it at future festivals time and time again.