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Spark 2018

Sustainability Festival; Community Upliftment

“Unfortunately it is a dog eats dog world. Some of us want the food, others want the money, we all want energy and others want the water,” says Dr Jennifer Balatedi Molwantwa, from the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency.  “We need to do this in a balanced manner,” she adds earnestly. “That is where sustainability comes in.”

From 2 to 4 March the first Eco Sustainability Festival will take place in the Lowveld. Some of South Africa’s finest artist and bands will provide the soundtrack to an exquisite backdrop at Penryn College: Majozi, Veranda Panda, Albert Frost, Gerald Clark, Jackal and the Wind and The Kiffness to name a few.

Those who prefer something more soothing can join a yoga class, meditation session or a drumming circle to ease into the rhythm of Spark. Be on the look-out for slam poetry, conservation tours around the grounds and the kiddies’ corner to keep the young ones entertained with exciting educational activities, set-up by creative and capable Penryn staff.

It isn’t only about having fun; Spark also wants their attendees to walk away feeling inspired. Initiative director Sandra Simpson describes the idea as being focussed on sustainability, as well as community. “It is a networking opportunity which brings together like-minded individuals, forerunners in sustainable development and education, to inspire a new culture in the Lowveld,” Sandra adds enthusiastically.

The festival acts as a launching pad and awareness campaign; Spark’s main objective is to establish and drive educational and community driven ventures for 2018. “By showcasing sustainable businesses and current projects, we are hoping to inspire in a fun and easily digestible manner,” Sandra continues.

The core focus of these projects are Mpumalanaga’s precious water resources, waste management and the creation of community gardens. “It’s time we start working together as an integrated society, driven to initiate positive change,” Sandra adds. “Respect is not race, class or gender specific. When stripped down to the core, sustainability is really just making choices out of respect for our natural resources and fellow human beings.”

Spark’s main sponsor is the IUCMA (Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency) located in Nelspruit. The IUCMA’s purpose is to conserve, develop and manage the nation’s water resources in an equitable, sustainable and efficient way.

“Where do we start and what is the way forward?” Dr Molwantwa asks. “I think it is important that we should start with ourselves. What do you do at home?”

Dr Molwantwa makes it clear that we are buying too much. “We waste so much, we throw away so much. Let us be considerate and buy as we need – and stop using plastics”. She encourages people to use their own shopping bags every time they go to the shops; recycle and reuse them. “If you also separate your glass from everything else, you are contributing to sustainability.”

There will be exhibitions, talks and demonstrations on sustainable solutions at the Spark Festival. Some of these talks include topics such as INVASIVE SPECIES by SANBI, ANIMALS, PEOPLE & COMMUNITIES by the Jane Goodhall Institute, THE MARVEL OF THE LOWVELD WATER NETWORK by Gerhard Diedericks, BE THE CHANGE by Di Atherton, CONQUERING THE HIGHEST PEAKS by Sibusiso Vilane, THE SECRET TO BEES by Henri van Vuren, BEER BREWING by Shaun McCartney from Sabie Brewery as well as VERMICAST & REHABILITATING SOIL by Nicolas Ings.

The exhibits include science projects, a 3D representation of the crocodile catchment basin, display beehives, worm farms, grey water systems, solar options and sustainable car solutions. You can attend a live demonstration on anti-poaching by SANParks or join in on an activity like Secret Sunrise (by No Danger Dairies), a dance class or games like giant Jenga.

Children under the age 12 years can enter the festival free of charge. The festival grounds are wheelchair friendly and all attendees can participate in as many activities as they please, as much as their hearts desire free of charge; you only have to pay the entrance fee.

For ticket prices, visit the Spark website at Keep an eye out for regular updates and announcements about Spark’s artists, exhibitors, stall holders, activities, demonstrations and talks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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