Interview by Sabrina Selkis
Photos courtesy of Flavio Matani
It is May 2016 in England and Spring hasn’t really showed up just yet.Weeks away from being officially in Summer (one can only hope!), I thought about presenting you with an event that has been going on for 10 years now :The Hampstead Alternative Picnic, created by Jon Hannan.
He was kind enough to take some time between WGT in Germany and the event coming up to answer a few questions:
The picnic is celebrating its 10th birthday, congratulations! Can you tell me what is the concept behind The Alternative Picnic?
It is a time and place to meet like minded people in a surrounding that is not a nightclub.
How did it start and what motivated you create the event?
It started very small. In 2006 I moved into an old house overlooking the Heath and some friends were visiting London, the weather was good so we had a picnic, about 8 people. Then planned another one for a few weeks later and invited a few more people, then it just grew and grew each time.
We base it by Kenwood House as it is usually less busy than, say, Parliament Hill, and easier to get to than other crowd free areas. Also, there are loos there! The House and ponds make a lovely backdrop to the picnic as well.
Who can and can’t be part of it?
Anyone but I keep it private “invite only” to make sure that it is mainly friends and friends of theirs etc. People with no interest in keeping the picnics alternative-friendly might show up if it was public. Being “private invite” keeps people somewhat responsible for those they invite along. So far, there has never been any trouble and I want to keep it that way!
Picnics usually involves litter sadly…how do you deal with this?
My friends and their friends are tidy people (another reason to keep it “private invite”) and each one usually bins their rubbish in the bags that their food and drink were brought in. Also, the park wardens there usually drop by any gatherings of people and hand out bags. Every time a picnic is coming to an end, most people start to tidy up any litter still lying about.
Since edition 1,what has changed in your opinion?
Apart from the picnic growing in size, the biggest change is that at first it was just some alternative people drinking and having food with their friends but more and more people have started to bring other family members, children and dogs along. A great way to make kids more open minded about alternative people.
This is England so I have to ask :What happens when it rains?
Rain: The Gatehouse in Highgate is the usual B Plan. A few showers won’t stop the picnic from happening, just lessen the numbers attending.
The next event will be early July but the date is not set yet. Usually, there are about four each year.
Photographer credit Flavio Matani (www.facebook.com/flaviomatani)