TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF GREEN GATHERINGS

Distributed from the Information Stall on site at the 2007 Big Green Gathering, August 2007.

The first Green Gathering took place on the Glastonbury Festival site in 1982. This was 
the first time the slogan ‘The Greens Are Gathering’ was used, and indeed the first time that a ‘Green Movement’ in the UK 
had any real substance. The ‘Ecology Party’ changed its name to the ‘Green Party’ a year or two later.  The Green Gatherings grew from the ‘Ecology Party Summer Gatherings’ of 1980 and 1981. According to the newsletter of ‘The Green Collective’:

“At the Ecology Party Spring Policy Conference of 1980, it was proposed that a Summer Gathering should be organised to discuss policy. This idea was defeated in a card vote, but the proposers of the motion decided to proceed with it anyway. The Gathering was advertised mainly through the Ecology Party and was projected as an Ecology Party event, although without the official backing of the party.


“The first Gathering [July 1980] attracted around 500 people; and right from the start they were a fairly mixed collection. On the one hand many were Ecology Party people who had come expecting to debate policy; on the other, many ordinary festival-goers came – (the venue was Worthy Farm, already the site for several Glastonbury midsummer festivals) – without perhaps fully appreciating the nature of the event.


“At this first Gathering we arranged a series of electric bands who played in a barn nearby. Roy Harper was there, and Inner City Unit with Nik Turner.


“At the second Gathering we decided to go acoustic, but it was mainly advertised again through the Ecology Party. Around 1500 attended this time. Again it was six days at the end of July. It was at the end of this Gathering that we decided, unanimously, to become a Green Gathering and to invite people from all parts of the movement.


“1982 was, therefore, the first actual Green Gathering, and it felt very much like a birth. We adopted the sunflower design and invited groups from all over the country. For the first time we began to feel like a movement. Around 5000 people attended this Gathering, which was a first in many respects.


“Green CND had been born at the 1981 Gathering, but 1982 was the first year in which we saw a large involvement of feminists, with Women For Life On Earth organising a women-only marquee and workshops”.


This coming together of different elements of the Movement led in 1983 to a ‘Green Declaration’, linking the seven principles of Ecology, Co-operation, Non-violence, Feminism, Direct Democracy, Social Justice and Personal Development. These principles still form the basic ethos of the Green Gatherings today.


The early Gatherings ended after 1984. Under pressure from Mendip District Council’s Licensing Committee, Michael Eavis was obliged to ask both his neighbours and the Green Collective not to hold a Green Gathering in the area; but he did offer the use of a field at the Glastonbury Festival itself – the Green Field. What soon became a major and distinctive part of the Festival began in 1984 in one field.


The Big Green Gathering Company was founded in 1994 in order to resurrect this tradition from the 1980s, and the Big Green Gatherings have since grown to their present size with 20,000 people on site. If you would like to get involved by becoming a shareholder of the company (cost £40), please contact us at PO Box 3423, Glastonbury BA6 9ZN – or ask at the Information Tent.