Day 52: Vehicle for shadeAugust 5, 2012 9:28 pm Leave your thoughts
It was 11:30 AM on a Sunday morning, and we were being bombarded with live heavy metal music from one side of the bus and screamo, shake-your-head-til-it-falls-off music from the other side. Both bands were angsty, eye-lined, and prone to guttural shrieks. As we surveyed the throngs of teenagers clad in ripped fishnet stockings with dyed neon pink hair and tattoos, we realized that this was a very atypical bus event and would require some serious dynamism on our part. Welcome to Vans Warped Tour.
For the first couple hours, punk rockers streamed by our bus without seeming particularly interested. We pondered how we could make the bus and/or sustainability appeal more to their values: fitting in? having a good time? looking cool? As the day warmed up significantly, however, Baby Bus served as a fantastic shade structure, and people flocked to her by the dozens. Once a few people came onto the bus, we seemed to reach a critical tipping point of interest and people crowded in to fill up all the seats and counter space. Some seemed surprised when they heard that they could climb aboard the Bus and that a tour was free! Our captive audience of pop punk lovers were genuinely surprised and impressed that we could run our bus on waste vegetable oil and enjoyed hearing tales from our travels. ‘Sustainability’ wasn’t necessarily on their radar, and at one point, a sun-drained kid resting on the Bus asked, “What is this thing for anyways?” That was the spark the group needed–the dialogue took off from there.
We met a group of volunteers who were collecting recycling around the concert venue, since Vans Warped Tour hadn’t explicitly set up recycling for the festival. They gave us our own green bag to collect recycling in throughout the day. I met other eclectic souls: a boy who was recently kicked out of his home and had dreams of becoming a tattoo artist, a Swedish-Argentine vendor who was planning to take a hippy van from Costa Rica to Brazil, and a vegan anarchic hip hop artist. There were 11,000 unique stories walked around the dusty concert venue today, hoping and fearing and dancing. Withholding judgement became the most powerful and important way to truly engage people, to give them the space and openness to tell their story and come upon what connects us. This, at its most basic level, is how I think we create and sustain meaningful, “radically inclusive” community. And for me, community is the heart and foundation of sustainability, so there was good work to be done even in the warping heat and commotion of the festival.
Tonight we’ll return to the polar opposite of where we’ve been today: Gales Creek Farm, a scenic organic farm outside of Portland where we’re staying with Maya’s high school friend, Lucy. We have a full work day tomorrow on the Farm planting winter crops, so stay tuned!