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Friday, July 15, 2011
Interview: Harry Moran from Gathering of the Vibes
Harry Moran is the Sustainability & Outreach Director for the Gathering of the Vibes. He's responsible for designing, implementing and monitoring all onsite greening programs as well as ongoing Vibe Tribe eco-awareness efforts. Additionally, Harry oversees the Sustainability Village, which showcases 15 non-profit organizations involved with critical environmental, community and social action initiatives.The newly expanded series of Green Vibes workshops are the cornerstone of onsite efforts to share useful and actionable information on a range of sustainability-themed topics.Harry is also responsible for overseeing the event's community outreach efforts, including various fundraising efforts for community organizations. The annual Terrapin Foundation Food Drive continues to be a key part of the event's outreach work and hopes to collect over 10,000 pounds of food from attendees to re-stock Bridgeport-area food pantries.
HH- I love that Gathering of the Vibes has been and is continuing to go green. Let's go step by step and discuss the challenges and triumphs that go along with all aspects of a festival that is going green! Last time we spoke we talked a lot about solar power and the pros and cons of that when powering a stage. Now that it's two years later what has the best way been and what are you doing now?
Harry- In terms of solar power we are still being challenged by the limitations and the financial realities of it. There are very few solar stage options out there that can provide the level of power that we need to power a world class stage so we don't have very many options. We are still working on finding something that makes sense for that. What we typically do is we are run power off of generators which are large scale commercial ones. The power has to be clean and stable because of the expensive sound equiptment we use otherwise it's dangerous.
HH- If you did it in a way that was all solar and the sound came in and out the fans would be upset.
Harry- Yes. Also we have big bands under contract that expect that their sound will work flawlessly so we have to make sure that happens.
HH- It sounds like something that not only Vibes is working on for the future but the solar power providers too. They need to make solar power more accessible so makes sense financially and environmentally.
Harry- Exactly. It's on-going and we are constantly exploring options.
HH- What are the ways you offset Gathering of the Vibes' carbon footprint?
Harry- Last year we had an offset program in place where we actually received a donation of renuable energy credits that offset all of our onsite electric usage from our generators and grid power. There are others aspects to our footprint like people's transportation.
HH- Yes speaking about that, this year my husband and I decided to cut down our carbon footprint a little by traveling to Vibes with Gary on the Solar Bus. Are you making it easy for other people to find rides to the festival?
Harry- We have a lot of ride sharing posts on our message boards which make it very easy for people to find rides. Another big thing we do is to encourage people to use public transportation. We are near bus, train and ferry stops so we have quiet a few people come from NYC and Long Island.
HH- I saw that there was a late night bus that goes to NYC each night after the show.
Harry- Yes. We want it to be the easiest way possible for people to come to the festival without bringing individual vehicles. It is not only good for the environment, but parking 25,000 cars is not really doable. People need to get creative and figure out ways to travel together and I feel that every year there is more and more ride sharing.
HH- Everyone wins!!! Next...let's talk composting. Last year I saw that it was required of the vendors to have compostable cups, plates and utensils. I heard that is not the case this year. Could you explain to me why.
Harry- Yes. This is a great way to examine the pros and cons of what we deal with. With the compostable cups, plates and utensils from last year, we gathered a tremendous amount of compost which we shipped to a farm. One of the problems we ran into was we had to find a farm big enough to accept this amount of compostable material. We had to go with a farm that was really far away from the event and truck it there. We know that composting is so important, but we took away the benefit by trucking it so far away. We couldn't find a local farm big enough for our volume so at this point we put the composting side of the program on hold. We added more stipulations to our recycling program like switching over to recyclable cups that are made from recycled materials. We are continueing to do the same things we have done in the past with Clean Vibes like gathering all the plastic and aluminum recycling.
HH- I love how Vibes isn't worried about looking green, but actually being green and doing what is best.
Harry- When you look under the surface it gets more complicated. It's like buying organic food from California or local food that may not be certified organic. The local option is usually better. We are really trying. We look at the actual impact on what we do.
HH- This year my husband and I are speaking on "Living the Good Life" between bands on the Green Vibes stage. Can you tell me why you decided to do this, what speakers you are looking forward to and what topics they will be speaking on.
Harry- One of the things we are most proud of are the Green Vibes workshops which are running on the speaker platform next to the Green Vibes stage Friday-Sunday. We have an amazing range of speakers and we're covering everything from local and sustainable food to health and nutrition to campus sustainability. One thing we added to the mix is our first speaker on Friday morning is going to be speaking about lyme disease and hepatitis c. We also have a kids and teens program where a group of the kids will come over from the kid's tent and teen scene and share what they have been working on. Another talk we are very excited about is by the Rex Foundation on Saturday called "The World as it May Be" which is a celebration of the universal decloration of human rights hosted by David Gans. We also have a talk about the future of green cars and alternative transportation by Jim Motavalie who is a contributor to the NY Times, author and radio host. He is a world class authority on this topic and we are so fortunate to have him with us. There is also a talk about the Saving the Sound which is a topic near and dear to our hearts since the Vibes takes place on the Long Island Sound. We will be having a green building workshop too so people can learn how to green their home. It's going to be a lot of fun and everyone is so excited to speak and it's all such important work.
HH- Thank you so much! This was so informative and it is getting me even more excited to go to Vibes this year!!