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New community water festival to rekindle our connection with rivers

About the blog

Katy Ellis
Katy is a 22 year old student (BSc Conservation Biology & Ecology, University of Exeter) passionate about rivers, people, conservation and the outdoors. She is currently working to document our human connection with rivers across the world.
  • New community water festival to rekindle our connection with rivers
  • Saturday, 9th September 2023 will see the premiere of a community water festival in Dartington, Devon, UK.

The brainchild of local PhD student Jasmin Dorinda, The Dart Fest shall be an open-to-all mini festival providing an inclusive and accessible space for locals residents, students, NGOs, researchers, and artists, of all backgrounds to celebrate the River Dart. Jasmin hopes to share visions for the future of the Dart and other vulnerable waters, sparking a reconnection with our rivers and waterways.

The festival comes at a pertinent time; despite their importance for water supply, energy and biodiversity, the UK’s rivers remain among the most polluted in the world. Across Europe, it is estimated we have lost 80% of natural habitats in the land surrounding rivers in the last two hundred years.

The festival shall conclude the 2023 Students for Rivers Camp (SRC), organised by the international NGO the River Collective, a network of students, researchers, artists, and activists dedicated to protecting the world’s rivers.

Over the last 4 years, The River Collective has invited 30 bachelors, masters and PhD students from across the globe, representing diverse disciplines, to the annual SRC. So far, camps have occurred across Europe, combining science, art and community empowerment for an interdisciplinary, intercultural education.

This September, the SRC will come to the UK for the very first time, inspiring the next generation of river defenders. In collaboration with Schumacher College, Dartmoor National Park, the Environment Agency, and other local charities and businesses, the camp shall deliver a week-long programme of scientific and artistic workshops and practical ecology training. Jasmin is planning a holistic source-to-sea focus for the camp, incorporating the great diversity of ecosystems supported by the Dart.

"I come away from every visit to the Dart feeling in awe. I swim in its refreshing pools in the spring and summer and kayak through its powerful rapids in the autumn and winter. The Dart has been a place for me to relax my mind and challenge my body in the most fun adventurous ways, always with a joyful encounter with the wildlife I share it with. I can't wait for others to experience the Dart's magic in September," she says proudly.

The Dart Fest warmly welcomes all members of the public who want to explore the protection of free-flowing rivers and thriving coastal ecosystems, and how we can foster creativity in science communication for future generations.

Despite being six months away, the energy is already building for what is set to be the first of many celebrations of the Dart and other rivers worldwide. With inspiration, education and dedication, we can engage and empower future generations with the knowledge to safeguard our world’s waterways.

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