BY SIMONE KEALY
As social isolation continues, many online festivals and events around the world are appearing to help provide some relief to those stuck at home.
A group of Clayton residents joined the trend by organising a free online festival to promote community connection during COVID-19.
Co-founder of We Are Together and former Monash student, Marijke Koster, said she wanted to make people feel welcome within the Clayton community amidst the pandemic.
“[We wanted to create] a place where people would come together which would really, really be socially inclusive,” Ms Koster said.
We Are Together aims to connect residents to the local businesses and facilities available via the events.
“It’s an issue of how do you connect people to what is already there, and how do you create a really innovative environment,” Ms Koster said.
“We are still working on [welcome packs for the residents] and piloting that, however during Covid, we couldn’t really work on anything.”
The response to the festival has been overwhelming and extremely positive, Ms Koster said.
Teaching Assistant at Monash University, Peizheng Ni, who attended the acupuncture and K-pop dance classes, said it was important to have fun during such times.
“I really enjoyed it,” Mr Ni said, who has always had an interest in K-pop.
“Now we’re all locked down at home so it’s a good way to get some exercise,” he added.
Facilitator of the Architectural Drawing class who also graduated from Monash, Jesse Oehm, said he enjoyed all the events he was a part of.
“I liked the fact that people were pretty open with their skill level,” Mr Oehm said.
“It seemed like any sort of difficulties that came up we were able to deal with it, as a group.”
During the event, Mr Oehm taught the attendees how to draw using two-point perspective and also taught them to draw trees and people.
“That’s all come from my architecture experience,” he said.
Despite enjoying the classes, Mr Oehm said having the event online was a “big challenge”.
“Putting the picture up to the camera and making it focus was an ordeal,” he said.
“I had to pay close attention to [the attendees'] body movements and their actions and what they seemed like they were doing.”
However, one of the benefits of having a festival online was that it allowed people to attend events they usually wouldn’t go to, due to time constraints, he added.
The event held between May 1 and May 3 had 98 people in attendance and the most popular event was the Cello concert, with 41 attendees.
“It went beyond our expectations,” Ms Koster said.
“Even if there’s one person who feels a little bit better at this time - that’s success.”