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Antidote 2017 in the Concert Hall. Image: Prudence Upton

The festival giving us a fix

Festival Director Edwina Throsby on the seven ways ANTIDOTE will help you deal with the world

Is your news feed getting you down? Feel like you need to do something about it? Across the first weekend of September, we're bringing back ANTIDOTE for its second year — a festival of ideas, action and change. Edwina Throsby, Head of Talks & Ideas and Festival Director picks some of the festival's big names and how they'll help us begin to tackle the problems in our world today.

This piece was first published in Broadsheet Sydney.

The second ANTIDOTE festival takes place in September.
Check out the program.

It will help you deal with feeling overwhelmed

When you think about everything that’s going on in the world, sometimes you just want to flush your phone down the toilet, crawl under a doona with a corner shop’s worth of chocolate, a fistful of Xanax and a large whisky and never come out again. But having seriously considered this, I’ve been forced to acknowledge that, for a variety of reasons, it is not a sensible long-term solution. I’m the sort of person for whom the best way to deal with a situation that makes me feel bad, sad, helpless or angry, is to think about ways I can fix it, and Antidote is a festival with that sort of attitude.

Sure, things are pretty shit, but what can I do about it? What are other people doing about it? What can we do about it all together?

Reclaim the idea of truth with Ronan Farrow

Who would’ve thought this idea would become so contested? In an increasingly politically polarised world there is a battle raging over the very concept of truth. With “alternative facts” having found their way into the mainstream, sometimes the best way to uncover the truth is to revert to old-school methods.

Ronan Farrow, one of the speakers at Antidote, earned his Pulitzer Prize for his meticulous, far-reaching investigation into the creepy and violent practices of Harvey Weinstein. Not only was Weinstein sexually harassing and assaulting actors, he was going to extraordinary lengths to cover up his crimes. Farrow’s journalism in the New Yorker was one of the kick-starters of #MeToo and relied on long interviews, detailed fact-checking and well-placed contacts to smash through the Hollywood power structures and reach the truth.

Understand the implications of new technologies with Chelsea Manning

Technology has never felt so big and dangerous. It’s easy to get dystopian: our data is everywhere and it’s controlled by machines who are learning more about us than we know about ourselves. What are the issues? What are the hacks? And what do we need to know to protect ourselves and design and build a better future?

One of the better mentors on how to navigate the confusing world of data privacy and surveillance is Antidote speaker Chelsea Manning, who became one of the most famous whistleblowers in the world when she handed over three-quarters of a million classified US military documents to Wikileaks. She is now running for political office in the US and continues to be a strong advocate for transgender rights.

Chelsea wants to change the world.

Chelsea Manning for The Guardian. Image: Tracey Salazar

Make new connections

With #MeToo, calls to check your privilege, and social-media campaigns highlighting minority experiences, we’re at a point where it’s no longer okay to ignore other people’s perspectives. And the best way to understand other people is to connect with them; to talk to them, to share time with them.

Antidote is all about making these connections: everyone who buys a ticket is doing so because they want to be engaged with the world around them. We are all part of a big, diverse community and we all live together on a big, diverse planet. Whether it’s Jonathan Drori helping us to better understand our interdependency with trees; confronting political extremism with investigative journalist David Neiwert (author of, among other things, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump); or learning from Tasmanian-based biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin what jellyfish are telling us about our oceans, it’s about helping us face an uncertain future.

Learn some mad new skills, like fillet a fish with Josh Niland of Saint Peter

In order to change the world, you need to have the skills, and for the first time Antidote 2018 will include workshops designed to teach you some very specific smarts for the 21st century.

Drowning in clutter? Our ethical decluttering session will help you sort your stuff in a way that is ethical.

Love eating fish but worried about your environmental impact? Sydney’s “king of all the fish”, Niland will teach you how to shop sustainably for seafood, and, bonus, how to prepare and fillet a whole fish.

Sick of paying a fortune for beauty and cleaning products that damage the environment? Bypass the whole system by learning how to make (and take home) your own products – including face cream, an all-purpose household cleaner and a reusable beeswax wrap — from all-natural ingredients.

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