JM// Brainchild 2016

One week after a glorious, yet muddy Glastonbury, we were off to Brainchild festival. “Now Molkie,” I hear you say, ” what the flaming bananas is a Brainchild?”

Well old friend, I’m glad you asked.

Great artists sometime call their works their child, and where are great ideas conceived? The brain! It’s an independent festival that brings in creatives to create engaging works and installations.

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Now in its 4th year, the festival is situated in the heart of Kent and has decided to take itself more seriously, inviting our Eco-Collective, PPL PWR to provide it’s very own Brainchild and engage the public with green and sustainable issues!

Getting on Site

Arriving Wednesday night, after a thoroughly enjoyable ride down in the van, we quickly dumped down our stuff ready to hit Thursday hard.

By Thursday lunch time it was feeling less PPL PWR and more PRSN PWR as I shifted all our crap from one side of the field to the other…

 

A photo posted by PPL PWR (@ppl_pwr) on

With UCell’s hydrogen fuel cell all set up, the marquee decorated, and Ysa’s beautiful hand made signs on display, we began the process of erecting the MEGA COMP-A-TENT!!!

The 3 metre tall structure was a bit of an uncertainty for us. We’d spent the previous two days calculating and designing the bracing structure, built from Comp-A-Tent First Principles, but were conflicted on how many entrances to have, 3 or 5? To cover all the sides? How enclosed vs open to be? How to balance the forces of we were to have multiple entrances?

By late evening, a touch after sunset, the PPL PWR Green Stage was pitched! Ready for the start of the festival…

 

@brainchildfest Our mega Comp-A-Tent installation as part of @ppl_pwr #festivalvibes #goalachieved

A photo posted by Comp-A-Tent (@comp_a_tent) on

Or so I thought…

Waking up on the Friday morning, I see the a mass of strings undone, failing in the wind! A worried Amanda rushing to rethread the structure before punters arrived, having decided it could be more symmetrical and thus impress all the architects at the festival – there were a surprising number!

 

Roll up, roll up and come down to the #pplpwrgreenstage

A photo posted by PPL PWR (@ppl_pwr) on

The Site

Brainchild is situated on one large field, on site with Bentley wildfowl and motor museum, well into the Kent countryside, way south of London. In addition to the field, there were installations along a wooded path that lead into a clearing in the woods with the Shak stage – a great place to spend the early hours, with its trippy lights projected onto the canopy above. Here too was the awesome Torus installation, a vocal driven light and sound spectacular.

 

One half of the field was devoted to camping, along the backside of which ran a small passenger train, whilst the other side offered installations, stages and food; delicious, sweet food.

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Installations included a cinema, Timmy’s hula-hooping space, a maze, some sofas, giant box of cereals and a rain cloud – of what I remember, and the wood-oven pizzas were to kill for – or at least fight over.

The campsite was open, meaning you could carry your booze around the site, and the bar offered cashback services for those needing to splash out on some delicious foods.

Lessons Learned

Having your own area at a festival, especially one with bean bags, pretty much guarantees you see nothing of the festival! However, it makes a great attraction for pulling people in and meeting new people. Three people manning the area was stretching us a bit, especially if one or two of you had to be off site for an extended period, even more so trying to talk to people, whilst manning the phone charging operation!

Like for a Like Charge

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PPL LOVE their phones! Offering free charging from the hydrogen fuel cell (it can supply 3kW!) was a great way to bring people into the PPL PWR space and get them engaged with green issues and technique. But some people I saw everyday! The sadness when we were at capacity and couldn’t take their phone was palatable!

I think in future we should make more of the opportunity to gain Facebook likes for the PPL PWR page, planning in advance how we were gonna connect to the Internet.

People Love a Bit of Glitter

 

A friend in need, is a friend indeed. Taken in our mega Comp-A-Tent installation @brainchildfest #glitter

A photo posted by Comp-A-Tent (@comp_a_tent) on

A constant flow of fresh faces and new opinions, combined with the offering of Bio-Glitter applied artistically to the face meant their was very little need to move to meet and engage with people.

Signing People On

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With such a captive audience I can’t even begin to imagine how many times I explained who PPL PWR are, what is Comp-A-Tent and, most impressively, how hydrogen fuel cells work.

(Magic, if you were wondering)

What I think we needed to push more was collecting email addresses of those excited about Comp-A-Tent – how else will they know when we launch!

The PPL PWR Green Stage

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A Chaucer reading from Jerone, a talk on self-experimentation, Norwegian Language class with Ana and my own cider sonnets were all featured during the weekend. It was a great space come the evening, bringing in dozens of people during an evening, giving us great coverage in getting the ideas and company names out there.

Moving forward, we need to enhance the stage aspect of the installation, really drumming interest in our talks by promoting them as we’re meeting and discussing people.

Closing Thoughts

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All in all, Brainchild was an awesome success of a weekend. The Comp-A-Tent installation was still standing, we had showcased and tested the latest generation of Comp-A-Tent, increased subscribers on the mailing list and met some really cool people.

For our first PPL PWR event, we had successfully come together, brought people into our space and engaged with lots of individuals of emerging green techs.

Brainchild was great at attracting really open minded individuals, who are really engaged and passionate about issues and causes, who ar emovers and shakers. Hopefully one or two took something away from exhibition, and so begins our quiet ripple of change into a more sustainable future.

Thank you to Marina and Joey for allowing us to put on PPL PWR area, and for providing not ony a great space, but a great environment to meet so many fascinatingly wonderful people!