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Shambala 2023: birdsong, tree-loving and bonobos

At Shambala this year, in tipis filled with birdsong, and in front of a spectacular pair of loved-up deep sea fish, we hosted a beautiful mixture of natural history talks, inspiration and apocalyptic musing. It was our sixth year of programming and the year that we wanted to begin to talk about climate adaptation, rather than only solutions.

Friday began lightly, with a joyful exploration of bonobos and what we can learn from this distant cousin of humanity, with author/food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart and my friend Anna Rose Findlay, a Nat Geo primate expert who has been filming apes in the Congo.This glorious, joyful talk ended in the audience feeding each other fruit without using their hands, just like bonobos do.

Then we travelled across human synapses and into the brain with Dr Hannah Critchlow, through outer space with Dr Kierann Shah and along to the end-of-days with Ed Gillespie, Saci Lloyd, and Gaia Vince.

On Sunday, the tipis were filled with birdsong for the most expansive dose of inspiration from Ella Saltmarshe (The Longtime Academy) in conversation with Ersin (Marshmallow Laserfeast) - talking about the improbability of our existence, how we can be better ancestors, and tree appreciation. The audience shared with a stranger, memories of time spent with special favourite trees.



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