Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Camp Companions: Sensational Melodies, Famoe.ly, and Sustainable Initiatives

Has anyone noticed this “spinning in infinity” trend that festivals seem to be taking on? I don’t know about you, but I’ve sensed a shift from original to mainstream with most. More time and energy are spent booking the poppy diva’s of rock n’ roll over adding personal touches that make the fans feel like they are physically kept in mind (not just bank rolls). Grrrrr. Not very thoughtful of the fans and mother earth are we? Well, I certainly don’t speak for all, because moe. definitely knows how to throw a festie - I couldn’t have asked for a better virgin experience at Summer Camp.

Being that it was the festival’s 10th anniversary and moe.’s 20th year playing together, it seemed like the boys were going all out! But, as the weekend came closer, I did hold some suspicions that the festival would take on a “business as usual” approach rather than a “green” one. They had an all-star lineup (no diva’s really, maybe just Dweezil) which, by the way, fulfilled all the womps and ween-toon-teen-toon’s you could handle. And, there were 11,000 moe.rons by Thursday night’s pre-party, which was already surpassing the 2009 totals. Even though there was a lot of growth and momentum behind 2010’s planning, I was pumped that by the end of the weekend I was still able to uncover integrity within Summer Camp’s community.

While the music and its fans were comforting my mind on Thursday night, there was still a minus sign in my dancing shoes equation, which equaled unexceptable. My soul could not allow my body to dance peacefully (without picturing piles of waste entering a landfill) until I knew that my womping grounds were being treated right and that my body would be able to receive the sustenance it needed throughout the weekend. So, on Friday morning I took out to turn my minus into an equal sign, and was generously given an informative tour of the festival grounds with Samantha Phelps of Jay Goldberg Events. She knew just where I belonged, which was the Soulshine Tent.

Here I found like-minded folks who shared the same passions in life: music, art, and awareness. Unlike the negativity of the dude who was off-setting peoples’ ambitions to change by screaming, “Everybody spilled the oil!” all weekend, these do-gooders were all about sending the message through positive interactions. Change of Atmosphere, a main sponsor of the event, had James Gooch heading activities and events at the Soulshine Tent.

When I got there, they had just finished Primitive Dyes: Spicing Up Your Wardrobe, where partakers learned how to make natural dyes with wines, fruits, and other everyday wonders. Anyone for a tie-dye party this summer? I also found out that the tent would be leading AM/PM yoga classes by Heading OM Yoga, Build Your Own Compost Workshop with the University of IL Extension Program, 10 Reasons to Eat Local Discussion, The Hidden Dangers of Kid’s Meals, as well as Share Your Souls Shoe Drive, Rock the Earth Mobile Phone Drive, Conscious Alliance Food Drive, and various other incredible activities, discussions, and performances. I was sincerely impressed with the non-stop education that was being offered to the audience at the Soulshine Tent. Oh, and did I mention one of my favorite performances was held under this tent. Uh-huh, acoustic set with Chuck Garvey of moe. and guest Danny Barnes who was pickin’ away at his banjo!

After my tour of the grounds, I set off to see the first afternoon moe. set and I left early, for church. No, this church was not offering afternoon services or Mumphries. Vaccinations for Saturday nights killer back-to-back x2 Umphrey’s and Moe. sets. Summer Camp’s Greening Coordinator would be filling me in on all their sustainable initiatives and giving a tour of the Waste and Sorting Center. Vanessa seemed like a busy little bee. This respectable lady had a lot of responsibility under her belt and I think she pulled through with great success. The obvious "big idea" behind her job was to off-set the festivals carbon footprints.

First, she informed us of the 200 plus Green Teamers, who had volunteered to help collect and sort the insane amount of trash that would be created over the four festival days. Camper's were provided with garbage and recycling bags at the gate, as well as color-coded bins that were spread through the campgrounds for recycling, compost, and garbage to help alleviate some of the Green Team’s work. Next, we went outside and met the most beautiful old ladies ever! These ladies were the founders of Old Hippie Recycling and they set up the on-site sorting facility and waste transportation; fortunately one of two composting facility’s in Illinois was just 15 miles away. These pretty hippies and the Green Team worked effortlessly all weekend sorting the trash into the three groups, all while smiling!

Vanessa also informed us about the biodiesel generator’s that were used for all the electrical needs. Together with Caterpillar engineers, the generators were approved to use B20, which is a fuel mixture made of 20% biodiesel. Another side-note, was that all vendors were required to use biodegradable plastic-ware. Although this was a great step forward on Summer Camp’s part, I felt like the vendors could have done some more promo with it. The various times that I had purchased food from vendors, I was never informed that they were compostable or how to dispose of them. Maybe informative signs for vendors to display or more pressure on vendors to inform their patrons, just an idea. I’ve also gotta say that I was not enthused by the food being offered. Although a good portion of vendors were traveling from within 50 miles of the campground, I was happy that I had brought most of my food to the festival. Not because the food being sold didn’t taste good, but there were not very many health-conscious choices. On a more positive note though, Summer Camp would like to offer some sort of a farmers’ market next year. Whoot!

So, here's what I think. Summer Camp is headed in the right direction. As their third year of officially going GREEN, they have undertaken a lot of projects which have helped to take giant leaps in reduction and to become as earth friendly as possible. Now, I think the biggest next-step is, YOU. If you’re anything like me, since you were a child you have never been able to deny the feeling of void when good times are coming to an end. As festivals come to a close, I’ve always thought that if we could eliminate that picture of imploded tents, broken sunglasses, and miscellaneous useless items thrown across the campgrounds, that we might be able to dodge that feeling.

Well, until moe.down limbo is over, I hope everyone is conscious about the food they are packing and the products they vote for as the festival season continues. Lets try to be as mindful as possible of the environment. Pay your fine, do your time.

See ya'll at moe.down!!

Bee well,
Courtney Lang

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