Following a summer series of SAY YES campouts where he invited his Facebook friends to become real friends and come wild camping somewhere near London with him, he started work on the first ever Yestival, an October gathering around a campfire in a field near Guildford where the air of positivity was palpable.
Shortly after Yestival, I met with Dave and asked him a few questions about the event and his forthcoming 1000 mile walk across the Middle East with his friend, adventurer and film maker, Leon McCarron. Walk The Masar
Since leaving behind a regular life as a graphic designer over 10 years ago, Dave has been on a mission to complete 25 Journeys of 1000 miles or more in non-motorised transport. This will be his 12th journey of Expedition 1000.
|Dave at the Adventure Travel Show 2013|
1: Where did the idea of Yestival come from?
Shortly after I came up with SayYesMore in 2012, the cleverness of a gathering called Yestival was attractive. That said, I'm on a constant mission to simplify my life and organising a big event is not conducive to this!
Then, earlier this Summer, I started two months of campouts inviting anyone to join me, and by early August it felt like it was the right time - in terms of spirit, community and audience - to make Yestival a reality.
The core organising team was comprised of people I'd met over the summer, and although the decision to go for it was taken just 8 weeks before, the bulk of the organisation was done in just three, slightly stressful weeks.
2: What are your favourite memories from the weekend?
There are so many. On Sunday I took a moment to walk up the hill and sit by the SayYesMore 'Hollywood' sign, and just looked down on on the site, the tents, the campground and almost 200 people. That was so satisfying, knowing that it just took a decision (plus some hard work and a really good team) to create something brand new.
Other moments were Amy and Ella Meek wowing everyone with their young wisdom and stature, the Land Rover Bar, endless conversations and smiles, being able to celebrate my birthday in the field, and my parents being there - it's rare they directly experience anything I've done or created so it was nice to give them a chance to verify that they're awesome parents.
3: Yestival felt like a great success, feedback on Facebook is very positive and everyone seemed really happy – What, if anything, would you do differently next time?
It exceeded any of our expectations, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The second time will always be easier. We have some infrastructure now, costs will hopefully be a little lower and we'll also be better placed to sell more tickets (although we don't want this to turn into a huge festival). Little things like being more clear with the schedule, having a bit more light on central parts of the site, and getting some sleep before the festival starts!
4: What plans do you have for future Yestivals?
Nothing precise yet, except for - there WILL be future Yestivals. Globally, hopefully.
YesHQ builds on the atmosphere we had at Yestival. The need for us busy modern humans to spend time with other like-minded souls, to get into nature and be allowed the time and space to think big. Our initial plans are to create a really creative office and living environment both in London and just outside of London - in the country.
6: You’re heading off on a little walk across the desert soon; what sort of planning do you do for a trip like that?
Well, a little more planning than I usually would, just because we're travelling through a fairly dynamic region and a decent sensitivity is needed for some of the stories we share. At heart, we're walking 1000 miles so need a bag, a stove, some camping gear and a way to share our stories. We'll also have guides for certain areas, donkeys and camels depending on the stretch we're on, and basically a willingness to be present throughout the trip.
7: What are you looking forward to in the trip and travelling with Leon McCarron?
I'm looking forward to walking out into the hills and camping. It's going to be glorious experiencing a new part of the world, a region with so much old and new history, learning so much at the same time as travelling slowly and meeting people.
Leon and I have known each other for about five years but this is our first journey together. He's good fun, passive and the build-up to this has been incredibly easy, which bodes well. I think we're both aware that this is a really important trip for both of us, but at the same time we like to have a giggle and don't take ourselves too seriously, which makes disarming the natural stresses of these journeys easy. Plus, Leon's far more handsome than me, so he gets all the attention and I get to sleep :)
8: What has been your favourite mode of non-motorised transport?
SO HARD! Stand Up Paddleboarding is a gorgeous way to travel, but I feel a little guilt picking out any particular form. Skating down a long, smooth hill is a beautiful feeling. The ICE Trike is so much fun. The Bikecar was unique. Swimming was hard but life-changing. Sailing in the middle of the ocean opens your mind like nothing else. So I have a lot of favourites!
9: What has been the most surprising thing that has happened since you gave up your old life?
I like this question, I don't think it has been asked before. In a way, I don't live with any expectations, so it's hard to be surprised. So many wonderful things have happened, and the opposite too, but for a few years I've been surrounded by incredible people with magical attitudes, and they've all rubbed off on me. I'm dodging your question, but seeing 100 dolphins coated in phosphorescence jumping by the boat in the Pacific, having that birthday 'surprise' at midnight at Yestival, falling off my skateboard for the first time after 3600 miles, just a couple of miles before the finish line. Man, endless unexpected moments.
10: Would you do any of the journeys again?
I'd paddle the Mississippi again, but I'm not a fan of repetition, so there's plenty new things to do before I need to go round again.
Thank you Dave Cornthwaite for taking time out from your incredibly busy schedule to answer these questions for us. Good luck to you and Leon with Walk the Masar