UPLIFT Festival: Co-creating Oneness in Action in the World

By Chip Richards

“When we join together in small groups, festivals and larger gatherings… we hold the code to more intelligent and loving life right here among us now.”  - Barbara Marx Hubbard

December 12, 2012 marked an auspicious convergence of two unique birthdays.

Firstly, ORGANIC INDIA founder Bharat Mitra was planning a special birthday party at his home in the hills of Byron Bay. His intention was to gather friends and family from around the world (many of whom are prominent figures in the consciousness movement) to join for several days in ceremony, giving each person a chance to share their gifts and positive vision for humanity and our earth. This gathering happened to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar and what was being viewed by many around the world as the birth of a new age for humanity.

When Bharat Mitra met with festival producer and the founder of Earth Dance, Chris Deckker to discuss the production of his birthday, they emerged with the vision of adding to the private gathering with a public event. Byron Bay has long been revered as a sacred gathering place by the indigenous people of Australia. As the continent’s most easterly point, it is the first place to receive the sun each day and is known as the “Land of first light dreaming”.  Because of this it was also recognized as one of the first spots on the planet to enter the “new dawn” in 2012.

As people around the world braced themselves with fears of what crisis or tragedy may befall us as we moved through winter solstice of 2012, the clear intention of UPLIFT became to infuse the collective field with a massive wave of peace, love, positive energy and new possibility for humanity and the earth. Once it was decided to make the festival public in Byron Bay, it became almost instantly clear that it also needed to reach people all around the world who shared the vision of seizing this moment in history as a chance to welcome and anchor a new vision for our future. With this impulse came the need for a live webcast… and just like that a birthday party became a global festival (now entering it’s third year of production) with the capacity to reach millions of people around the world.

“Over the years we have been blessed to meet many inspired leaders, pioneers and innovators,” says Bharat Mitra. “And we have come to recognize that while we have all these amazing people, organizations and innovations, most are still working in isolation and separation from each other. Even some of the most successful individuals who are truly committed to being of service to consciousness evolution, the impact of their work is limited because they are trying to do it on their own.”

“UPLIFT is about creating a collaborative platform that allows inspired leaders from many different walks of life (world leading scientists, healthcare visionaries, artists, entrepreneurs, Indigenous elders and evolutionary leaders), with complementary skills and wisdom, to come together and allow fresh creative impulses to reveal themselves in ways that are bigger than all of us.” 

While UPLIFT is certainly not the only festival committed to creating positive change, to many UPLIFT presenters and participants, there are a few key elements that make UPLIFT a unique experience. In particular, what comes before it… and what comes after.

What Comes Before: “The Gathering” - Being as the Source of Action

For an entire week prior to the festival, UPLIFT presenters, artists and co-creators come together from all around the world in what is affectionately referred to as “The Gathering” – a time of deep sharing, experience and discovery with a fundamental aim of exploring what great synergies and co-creative possibilities may naturally emerge from the collective gifts of the group.

The four-day UPLIFT festival and global webcast becomes a dynamic expression of this convergence - blending being and doing, structure and flow, while weaving a schedule of keynote presentations, workshops and music performances with panel discussions, open forums and “spontaneous evolution sessions.” For presenters, most of whom are global pioneers in their own field, the Gathering offers a rare opportunity simply to BE… and from that space, to join with like-minded visionaries from other walks and weave their unique thread into a larger tapestry. For festival participants (both live and those tuned in online from all around the world via www.upliftconnect.com), UPLIFT is an invitation to immerse ourselves in true Self discovery and the creation of a new collective story – to learn, grow and be called into inspired action in the world.

What Comes After: Co-creation in Action

At the heart of the UPLIFT vision is a commitment to create an ongoing platform for conscious collaboration inspired by grounded, real world action. In the words of Bharat Mitra, the ultimate mission and purpose of UPLIFT is “Co-creating Oneness in action in the world,” such that the festival is not only a great convergence of consciousness, but an annual celebration of all the great actions and initiatives that have come to fruition since the last festival.

Ignited by this intention in it’s first three years of existence, UPLIFT presenters and participants have not only given birth to an extremely interactive live and virtual event, but from this space a wide variety of unique collaborations, partnerships and ongoing initiatives have begun springing up all over the world.  UPLIFT projects to devoted to unifying peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, pioneering agro-ecology and cleaning the waters of India, empowering a generation of rising youth leaders, supporting the unity of Indigenous tribes and cultivating the collective wisdom of integrative doctors around the world (to name a few!).

UPLIFT is actually an acronym for Universal Peace and Love in a Festival of Transformation and since its inception, the founders and organisers have developed a very inclusive interpretation of “festival” - such that any authentic expression of the underlying intention of Sarvodaya (Sanskrit for “UPLIFTment for all”) is recognized as a form of the festival taking shape in the world. In this way, UPLIFT has the possibility of happening everyday all around us and all those who feel called to the mission of generating more peace, love and new possibility for the planet are already playing a vital part of the global community of UPLIFT.

2014 celebrates the return of several festival favorites - including cellular biologist Bruce Lipton, spiritual evolutionary Barbara Marx Hubbard, medical clown Patch Adams, peace activist Satish Kumar – and welcomes a wave of newcomers such as sacred economist Charles Eisenstein,  film maker visionary Jamie Catto, leadership consultant Tim Mac Macarthy, peace activist Scarlett Lewis and many more.

In the words of Bharat Mitra, “Each one of us has our own unique gifts, purpose and role to play in this magnificent existence… and it is only when we all come together that this new era can manifest. We truly can create oneness in action in the world.”

In the words of festival favorite, Bruce Lipton, “UPLIFT is like a seed, that when germinated will spread all over the world.”

Chip Richards is the Creative Director of UPLIFT Portal, an initiative co-founded by Bharat Mitra. To learn more, please visit: www.upliftconnect.com

Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2014 Catalyst, Issue 24: Citizen Lobbying for Peace and Justice