OurPledge chats to Ajay Pabial from Art Clubbers about 2022’s Forest Fest

Forest Fest is one of a kind! Plans are underfoot to create an exciting inaugural Forest Fest, coming in April 2022. Forget stale job fairs and career expos, we want to celebrate the vibrancy and array of opportunities the green sector has to offer. Did you know that ‘green jobs’ might mean working in fashion, retail, design, mental health, entrepreneurship, transport or even beer brewing?!

This day festival in Waltham Forest, sets the stage for aspiring young people who wish to enter the world of sustainability and green jobs, as well as delivering a safe and welcoming event for our diverse audience and attendees. Our aim is to make sustainability simple.

OurPledge spoke to co-curator of Forest Fest Ajay Pabial, to understand a little bit more about why he’s passionate about sustainability as part of the future of work..

OP: Tell us a little bit about yourself?

AP: Hi! My name is Ajay (he/him) and I’m the Founder and Managing Director of Art Clubbers CIC. As a community interest arts organisation led by young working adults of diverse ethnic minority, LGBTQ+ and creative backgrounds, Art Clubbers are focused on inclusivity and bringing different communities together through bespoke, extensive arts and cultural programmes across public, private and third sectors. 

I have spoken at international and national summits for cultural institutions such as the TATE, the Chartered Institute of Fundraising and General Assembly, to discuss topics around community building within the creative sector, the intersections of creativity and advocating for visibility and representation within the creative workforce. I am proud to have been showcased on platforms such as Westfield podcast ‘How I Got Here’ and BBC Radio Oxford with my work around Art Clubbers.

OP: How did you become involved in Forest Fest?

AP: I was introduced to Racheal (co-founder of OurPledge) by a mutual friend of ours and we got to talking about our work and our ambition to make change within our respective fields. Our values completely aligned and quite naturally through our very first conversation the concept of Forest Fest was created, we knew we had to make this happen!

OP: What got you excited about it?

AP: The green sector is a powerful and emerging sector which sadly not many people know about or understand. The concept for Forest Fest was to create an accessible and informative safe space for those looking to explore the sector in greater detail. This is a true learning experience for me especially when it comes to connecting green initiatives with the creative sector to create something truly innovative and Forest Fest will be a great example of that in this collaboration between OurPledge and Art Clubbers CIC.

OP: What has been your greatest challenge so far while co-curating Forest Fest?

AP: I don’t think there has been any real challenges yet, but what has been the most rewarding part of developing Forest Fest was having a youth steering group who shaped what Forest Fest will be. We ran two consultation sessions in which we engaged our youth steering group to find out what they would like to see, what takeaways the event should have, and even down to the name! It’s a powerful and enlightening experience to have these conversations and create something that’s truly youth led.

OP: What are your aspirations for Forest Fest?

AP: For me, I hope to see Forest Fest as a new exciting model for how we should share career information and guidance and steer away from the job fair model. I want this to be a prime example of a safe space for networking, collaboration, learning and sharing especially around the green agenda. We need more events like this which are consolidated with young people and catered for and by them.

OP: What’s the thing you’re most looking forward to about Forest Fest?

AP: To see young people being inspired! Forest Fest is a space for innovation, ingenuity and knowledge seeking to explore ways in which we can create positive climate impact through our careers. What I really love about these events is watching conversations happen, sometimes you witness the beginning of something new and it’s all very exciting to explore different possibilities. I look forward to connecting young people with some of the amazing people we have on the panels and on our stalls, this really is the festival that keeps on giving and I know young people will be walking away with new opportunities and knowledge in their back pocket.

OP: Do you think Gen Z and millennials are more likely to seek out green jobs than previous generations? Why do you think this is?

AP: We have become hyper aware of social, economic and environmental issues in the world today and social media has allowed us to access the far corners of the earth and receive information within 15 second reels. This has allowed issues such as climate change and sustainability to be at the forefront of our minds. With information constantly being created and consumed, Gen Z and millennials have a better understanding of the world around them. Legacy is such an important concept and these generations definitely understand the truer sense of creating a good quality of life for themselves in the present and future.

OP: Why is sustainability so important to the next generation?

AP: It’s our future and we need to start planning for now! It’s no secret that our world is going through some drastic changes which are going to impact future generations negatively if we don’t act now. By planting the seed of change now we can start creating positive ripple effects, it’s all about leading by example and being a role model for forthcoming generations.

OP: What’s one piece of advice for Future Leaders looking to work in sustainability?

AP: Dream big and start small! Connect with the people around you to find sustainable solutions. Attend events like Forest Fest to keep in the know, to network with like minded people and engage in the conversation.

OP: And lastly what will you be up to once Forest Fest is over?

AP: Planning the next one I hope! This is the first of many Forest Fest’s coming to Waltham Forest and I hope to scale this with OurPledge in other boroughs too. At Art Clubbers we believe in creating impactful hyper localised activity so we would again create a local youth steering group to cater a Forest Fest for their community and audience. I also hope to follow the journeys of some of the young residents who come to Forest Fest. It would be great to follow their stories and hope that this event was the initial spark for their green career.

To learn more about Forest Fest and book your tickets visit here – we hope to see you there. If you’re interested in Art Clubbers check out them out here. And if you have any questions at all please contact us at OurPledge, we’d love to hear from you.

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