08.07.21

Meet the Members: Chris Johnson

Environmental strategist, Shambala Festival co-founder, workshop leader, student lecturer, climate advocate and dad. Chris Johnson is the owner of many hats and he wears them all at once.

We caught up with Flexi member Chris to discuss earth advocacy, distilling that Shambala magic and his very varied playlist. Chris toots the horn of the four-day week; aka our hero.

Can you tell us what you do and what an average workday looks like?

Over the last year or so I’ve been learning the art of avoiding a ‘typical’ workday. I’m trying to be more supple, allowing space to find the creative me, rather than the work-machine I’ve been for 20 years. Saying that, a day at Gather Round often consists of working on an environmental report or strategy for clients, a conference talk or student lecture, client meeting or team member catch-up across various projects.

I split my week between Shambala Festival, (working from our HQ in St. Pauls) and various climate advocacy projects. I also cracked the four-day week in 2019, spending Fridays in the woods with my 10 year old.

What top tips can you offer to festival-goers looking to reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable?

It’s thankfully, quite straightforward. The three most impactful choices you can make are:

• Travel on shared transport. Get at least 3 bums on seats in your car
• Choose not to buy, or reduce, meat and dairy
• Avoid disposables. Take reusables with you like a water bottle and a hot drinks cup. Check out the Plastic Free Festival Goers Guide  here

I’d also suggest choosing a festival that takes sustainability seriously (no bias!).

What are you listening to/watching at the moment?

I’m reading (well, listening to the audiobook) Braiding Sweetgrass, which is truly inspiring. I’m a sucker for factual documentaries, the most recent being Artifishal, exploring the impacts of salmon stocking in US rivers and beyond. I LOVED Flea Bag (old news now, I admit).

My playlist at home is a curious mixture of nostalgia with the likes of David Bowie and Bob Dylan or what my kids are into; Stormzy and Dolly Parton. I’m loving the Nu UK Jazz scene. Comet is Coming, Kokoroko, The Steamdown, Ezra Collective’s, Sons of Kemmet, and Nubian Twist feel really fresh, exciting, and going places.

What kit/tools can you not live without?

I have to confess to being a bit of an outdoor kit geek. I need the sense of connection with nature, being a part of everything. I’m currently loving my new (factory outlet second) Patagonia waterproof jacket. Patagonia is about as inspiring and radical a company gets in my eyes, for taking positive action to protect nature. I also have a mini-Opinel saw which is a beautiful thing. Aside from outdoor gear, I have a gong, smudge and compass.  These, I think, are the essential items for creating ceremony, something largely lost in our culture.

Anything you’re working on at the moment that’s exciting you?

I’m excited about so much! We just launched Shambino, a dinky distillation of all that makes Shambala magic, in the absence of the main event. We’re also in the process of creating a really progressive vision and strategy for the next five years. A charity I co-founded, ecolibrium, is really going places in the music industry, I’m really proud to have just launched a new sustainable knowledge hub for the live events industry, and to have been part of a working group co-creating a bold sustainable vision for the UK music industry, currently at consultation stage. Earth advocacy is an exciting place to be.

Do you have a favourite artist/designer/photographer who really inspires you?

I’m an Andy Goldsworthy fan.  You can find some of his work permanently at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

What do you love about his/her/their work?

He produces work that is visually striking and subtle, working with the landscape and natural materials and often highlighting what we don’t usually ‘see’. I find it beautiful, and to me, it carries an underlying message and reminder to be in awe of, respect, and work with the land and nature.

Why did you choose Gather Round?

The Enviral team were working with me on a project to document ADE Green, a global music industry environmental conference in Amsterdam, and around that time I was developing a new consultancy business. Joss [Enviral] introduced me to Gather Round, and after one visit I absolutely knew it was the perfect space and community for me to feel creative and work flexibly. Gather Round provides me with valuable headspace which is a luxury for which I am grateful.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Chris! If you want to find out more about Environmental Sustainability and perhaps work with Chris, pop him over an email chris@chrisjohnson.earth. Join us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to get to know all things Gather Round and meet more of our creative members.