I recently read the Rolling Stone article about Obama, and the interviewer asked the next President of the United States why musicians, such as the Boss and Bob Dylan, throw their weight behind his campaign. Obama answered that he thought musicians were very open to change and were unlikely to “settle for what it is,” working towards “what might be” instead.
These were choice words to read on the night before I drive from Chicago to Michigan to attend Rothbury, which goes by the tagline of a “Sustainable Camping Festival Revolution Celebrating Music, Art and Action.” Music festivals are my idea of a good time, and they inevitably always involve some discussion of community, but it is always somewhat disconcerting at the end of a long weekend to see trash strewn concert grounds. (This months Rolling Stone also mentioned that the Bonnaroo festival generated 79 tons of garbage). So while festivals thrive on the idea of a community, literally creating small, or not so small, towns overnight, one also wonders what type of community is created.
Rothbury knows just what type of community it aims to create. Vendors must use compostable items and ticket prices included a fee to offset carbon emissions, and in an incredibly ambitious move, the festival also aims to curb cigarette butt litter (one of my personal pet peeves) through personal portable ashtrays. So while I am excited to see some of my favorite artists such as Widespread Panic, Railroad Earth, and Sound Tribe Sector Nine (and Snoopp Dogg! For shizzle!), I am equally excited to see if Rothbury, and especially the attendees, walk the walk, rather than just talk the talk about sustainability. The festival promoters are certainly dedicated. They are raising money for solar panels for a local school, hosting think tanks all weekend, and taking action to fight hunger through a food drive and a Guinness book world record attempt for largest can sculpture.
I look forward to my 4th of July weekend listening to music, spending time with friends, and doing one the most patriotic things I can think of, working towards a sustainable future.