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Commonground Festival Workshops

It’s about working together to make the world a better place and having one heck of a good time along the way! On 95 acres of rejuvenated bushland 1 hour north of Melbourne. Complimenting the music makers on the stage will be top quality workshops.

The workshops are designed to inspire, challenge and provide practical tools covering a range of topics related to Collaboration, Activism, Community Living & Connecting to Nature.

Line-up includes: Dallas Frasca / The Deans / Sugar Fed Leopards / The Seven Ups 8 Foot Felix / Deep Street Soul / Quantum Milkshake

Run by volunteers, the festival is a fundraiser for Commonground, a not-for- profit social enterprise that supports social justice, environmental, disadvantaged and community groups. It does this through providing its Venue at subsidised rates for social change groups, it’s Intentional Community, and its education and training organisation, the Groupwork Institute of Australia.

Signing up for Festival Workshops

We have changed the timing of the sign up process a little this year in an effort to keep it fair for everyone. There will be three opportunities to sign up for Workshops over the duration of the Festival.

  • On Friday you can sign up for the Friday Workshops between 12noon - 1:30pm. Workshops start at 2pm (including Weed Dating!).
  • On Saturday you can sign up for the Saturday Workshops and Unconference offerings from 9am - 10am.
  • On Sunday you can sign up for the Sunday Workshops and Unconference offerings from 9am - 10am.

The Workshop Wall will be located next to the Cashier and Info Desk in the Wedge.

Host an Unconference Workshop

Alongside our arranged program of social change workshops, we have an Unconference stream. If you have a workshop idea that supports social change we are offering 90 minute sessions to Festival goers during the Saturday and Sunday Program. 

Unconference offerings will be gathered at the Workshop Wall in the Wedge between 12 noon and 10pm on Friday. For more details on how the Unconference program works [click here].


Emotional Resilience

Facilitated by Liz Franzmann from The Groupwork Institute (the collaborative education arm of Commonground).

Emotionally Resilient people have the capacity to be ‘bold’ – to speak up, to share their ideas, take risks and use their full potential.  It gives us greater strength to appropriately respond to workplace pressures and challenges and helps build robust, collaborative relationships both inside and outside the working environment.

This workshop provides participants with the background to the 7 aspects of emotional resilience and provides insights on how to access them.  But knowing them is not enough.  Becoming emotionally resilient takes great self awareness and requires us to consciously ‘go beneath the neck’. How do we act with compassion, listen to understand, communicate across our differences, work through rank and power, while all the time holding the bigger picture and responding with wisdom?  Bring an open heart and mind along and discover how it's possible. 


Challenging Encounters

Facilitated by Andrea Jones from The Groupwork Institute (the collaborative education arm of Commonground).

You know the ones - those difficult things you need to talk to someone about but keep putting off because it's scary! Some of us would rather go bungee jumping! There are many times where we need to talk to people about difficult 'stuff'; at work, at home, in the groups to which we belong.  We often don't say these difficult things and our relationship suffer, or negative feeling build up until we get really annoyed and then we say things badly - and our relationships suffer! In our personal life, our work life and for the planet, we need to learn how to relate compassionately and effectively. 


Essentials of Collaboration

Facilitated by Jim Buckell from The Groupwork Institute (the collaborative education arm of Commonground).

Collaboration is fine in theory but it can unravel quickly if not done well. Passions tend to rise when we come together to make big decisions as a group. If we don’t manage these tensions they can derail us fast. External forces often work against us too. Vested interests resent losing their power and find ways of undermining us. And a lot of people deride the collaborative process. It’s too time consuming. It’s for hippies, not the hard-nosed business world.

As advocates for social change we collaborate because we believe it leads to better outcomes. So it can do, but first we must build a strong framework for our wisdom and creativity to take hold. Then we need to hone our skills to steer a path through the danger spots. In this workshop we help you build on your existing knowledge and skills in the collaborative process. You’ll also get to try some new approaches. Together we can be better!


Self Care – Looking After Ourselves

Facilitated by Belinda Davies from The Groupwork Institute (the collaborative education arm of Commonground).

Those committed to social change often forget or deprioritise looking after themselves. How can we be so driven in our work and yet forget the most important person – you?

Glen Ochre (founder of Group Work Institute) often remarked that “we are the tools of our trade”, we cannot expect to be able to keep contributing if we are run down, ridiculously busy, with no time for reflection or restoration. “We must make time to sharpen our tools. If we were tree surgeons, we would not go up the tree with a blunt chainsaw.” 

 This workshop will aim to help you identify your values and beliefs about what you consider important in achieving good care of yourself.  Then we will creatively craft a self-care plan and work out how to make it happen. 


Growing our own food at Commonground

As food security becomes a growing concern in the face of a planetary crisis, more and more of us are thinking about growing food. Come and ‘chew over’ the politics and practicalities of growing your own food while wandering in the Commonground garden with Brian Bowring from Commonground.


Aboriginal Cultural Dance Workshop with Marruk

The Marruk Project is a multi award winning collective of Aboriginal young people and Elders from Swan Hill, Victoria who use the arts as a way to celebrate, share, and maintain Aboriginal culture.  We create powerful theatre and film that reduces racism, celebrates diversity, and provides opportunities for cultural leadership for our young people.  This workshop has been specially designed for Commonground Festival and we invite you to join us to learn our stories, get to know our culture and embody one of our dances yourself.  Facilitated by Marruk's young leaders and local Taungurung woman Hannah Morphy-Walsh. 


Weed Dating

Weeding the garden is a fantastic time to connect with others in a slow relaxed manner. For this workshop we welcome all the brave single people to bravely step in to the Commonground gardens and see who else is in the field. Hopefully romance will blossom between the some socially minded folk. It is welcome to all ages and interests. 


Commonground biodiversity tour

Come for a wonderful guided wander around the property and meet the flora and fauna and hear the story of Commonground’s property development and conservation work. Guided by naturalist Damien Cook from Australian Ecosystems & Kate Lewer from Commonground. Damien has supported Commonground’s property develop since the beginning.


Happy Yoga

For young and old! Guru Dudu takes you on a comedic journey of simple postures to help you open your “laughter meridians.” Happy Yoga turns all the usual Yoga poses upside-down, giving your laughter meridians a workout from the inside-out. Guru Dudu will lead you through a series of simple poses to help you get in touch with your “ass-ana”, learn carbon-capture breathing and enjoy alternate nostril singing!


Normal Yoga

Early session 'Heart Yoga' (8am - 9:10am): Opening space for heart energy to be cultivated and embraced with warm loving poses and focus on breathing and connectedness.

Late session 'Smooth Flow' (9:20 - 10:30): A steady journey flowing through fun sequences warming the body and creating awareness with focus and freedom.  


Child of the Earth Walking Tour in honour of Glen Ochre

This special event honours Commonground co-founder Glen Ochre. This tour takes in many of the places that were special to Glen. Along the way we will hear some readings from her recently launched autobiography Child of the Earth. These readings will be given by the three who helped Glen bring her story together, Ed Mckinley, Monique Bouma and Jim Buckell.

This autobiography celebrates the many aspects of Glen’s life. May it inspire us to be bold in the service of Mother Earth. 

We will gather under Glen’s tree, which is beneath the main car park. This is her most favourite place of all! This tour will seek to evoke a little of the magic that Glen sough to bring to life at Commonground.


ARTS - Spoken Word Showcase

Get ready to hear some powerful voices, because some of Melbourne’s top Spoken Word performers will be gracing the Commonground Festival stage on Saturday at 2pm. Featuring: Arielle Cottingham (2016 Australian Poetry Slam champion), Chalise Van Wyngaardt (A beautiful writer and passionate performer). ‘Lady Longdrop’ aka Kendra Keller (Sensuous, Surreal) and Ee'da Brahim (Founder and Creative Director of Sisters for Sisters.

MC ‘d by poet and long-time friend of Commonground, Rowan White.


ARTS - New mural by Mick Harding - Created over the weekend. 

Local Aboriginal artist Mick Harding will be creating a massive new mural at the 2016 Commonground Festival.

Mick is a well renowned artist and actively involved in coordinating workshops to promote Aboriginal culture through his art and storytelling. “When I create something I express my cultural integrity in place, be respectful of interpretation of my culture, and try to share my story as a Taungwurrung Kulin (Aboriginal man from my traditional country).”

Check out Mick's website for more of his artworks: http://ngargawarendj.com/

The mural is the story of Bunjil the eagle. In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Bunjil is a creator deity, culture hero and ancestral being. It is going to be fantastic to have this story told at the entrance to our main building 'The Wedge'.