The Power of Drumming

Yesterday in my Indigenous Poetry class two Native American men taught us about how traditional native music has inspired rock and roll. After the very interesting discussion involving lots of chatter about Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Dylan, the men knelt on blankets on the floor and sang traditional native songs while playing a water drum and gourd. Both of them had their eyes closed as the music transported them elsewhere. It was absolutely beautiful and soul-refreshing.

Interesting things we learned in class:

-The oldest form of American song is Native drumming.

-While playing the drum one of the speakers, Henry Quintero said, “This is what it sounds like when you’re in your mother’s womb.”

-Back in the day when tribes battled, instead of fighting physically they would solve problems through dance.

-The water drum is alive; it’s combined with all the elements of Earth; it’s the heartbeat.

Lyrics sung during a ceremony of a young girl that I hurriedly copied in my notebook:

“Baby girl, baby girl, baby girl, you can learn, you can learn, you can learn. Bless your mind, bless your mind, bless your heart, bless your heart. Let your heart grow, let your heart grow. Let your mind grow, let your mind grow.”

All class period I was transfixed on the drumming, on the singing, on the chanting, on the power in sound.

Listening and watching reminded me that there are so many beautiful things in this world, in this life. So often our lives become clouded with to-do lists, assignments, appointments, toothaches, heart aches, all kinds of aches and all kinds of pressures. So often we forget that life is beautiful and we need to be reminded. Sometimes only music can do that for me. It goes beyond the pitch in voice, beyond the rhythm of the drum; it’s the something else speaking through the musician. I don’t understand how people can hear drumming and not be moved.

How can you hear that beat and not open your mouth to call to the wild?

How can you hear that and not tap your toes to the Earth?

How can you not be compelled to rise out of your skin and spin, arms out to the Universe?

How can you listen to that drumming, that internal rhythm and not become what we’re meant to become?

Quote of the Week

This is the 3rd installment (out of 4) of quotes from James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues.”

“He hit something in all of them, he hit something in me, myself, and the music tightened and deepened, apprehension began to beat the air. Creole began to tell us what the blues were all about. They were not about anything very new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness, and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.

Everyone suffers; everyone is happy at some point or another; everyone goes through periods of light and darkness. These are all inevitable conditions to humans. Regardless of how many times you go through ups and downs, or know someone who does, it’s a tale that must always be heard. Sometimes a person, a song, a moment or a band can give you new ways to open your mind, open your heart, and truly listen, truly understand.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is also from “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin:

“All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.

The 16th Annual Nocturnal Festival

So yesterday I was just about to book my flight to San Francisco for Lovevolution (which would be on my 22nd birthday), when I found out that the parade was cancelled. Cancelled as in not happening?! This can’t be possible, I thought as I re-read the story over and over and then preceded to check other sources.

Before hearing the cancellation news all I could think of was people twirling in tutus, spinning in sequins, and grooving with all sorts of crazy costumes throughout the city’s streets. And most importantly, with smiles on their faces. (Definitely not a bad thought to keep floating in my brain cells.)

So needless to say I was heartbroken. Until, I heard about The Nocturnal Festival. The festival statement reads:

“Gather one and all from all walks and points upon the globe, feast your eyes upon the sounds, hear the colors come alive. Explore the mysteries within the music, experience the wonder that is this life, this time, this moment. Gather together your deepest of energies. Let this night scream into the universe and shake the foundations of all creation. The time is now!”

And that’s just the first paragraph. The life came back to my eyes, the excitement to my blood, and I kept reading.

The Nocturnal Festival is a one-day festival- Saturday, September 25 in Southern California. The festival takes place inside and outside with five stages. No matter how I try to explain it in words, they’ll do no justice. Check out the festival’s homepage here.

But first, watch the trailer.

Quote of the Week

Even though summertime is over and festivals are fewer, I still want to add a slice of music into blog posts as much as I can. So welcome to the first real supplement of “Quote of the Week.” Usually the quote will have something to do with music. Please feel free to comment on the quotes, add your own quotes, or just start up a conversation.

In one of my English classes we just read, “Sonny’s Blues” the beautiful short story written by James Baldwin in 1957. It was a very powerful read, which I highly recommend. Although I want to splurge and include all of my favorite quotes from the story, I’ll spread them throughout to keep the weeks interesting. Here’s the first one:

“As the singing filled the air the watching, listening faces underwent a change, the eyes focusing on something within; the music seemed to soothe a poison out of them; and time seemed, nearly, to fall away from the sullen, belligerent, battered faces, as though they were fleeing back to their first condition, while dreaming of their last.”

Regardless of how broken we are, music can soothe us and bring us to another place. Even if it is for a moment, that moment helps us breathe and live through the suffering. I love that line about music soothing a poison out of us.

Inspiring Quote

At festivals, I have moments like these all the time:

“At that elusive moment when we transcend our ordinary performance and feel in harmony with something else—whether it’s a glorious sunset, inspiring music or another human being—our studies have shown that what we are really coming in sync with is ourselves. Not only do we feel more relaxed and at peace, but this entrained state increases our ability to perform well and offers numerous health benefits.”

–Doc Childre and Howard Martin

GrassRoots: 2009

During my second semester of my junior year (around February 2010) I submitted a non-fiction essay about GrassRoots to The Blue Guitar Magazine. The issue’s just been published online. Check out my essay and the other wonderful writing here. My essay’s on pages 50-51.

My essay’s about my GrassRoots experience in 2009. I just got out of a serious relationship, and I was in a really broken place. Going to GrassRoots and being surrounded by so much love helped heal me in so many ways.

In case you don’t venture over to the website, here’s the essay:

Healed by the Beat of the Drum

“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.

This is power, it is glory on Earth and it is yours for the taking.”

— Agnes De Mille

Waking up in the same pajamas I’ve been wearing the past five days, I have no desire to leave my bed even as the afternoon sun beats down outside my window. My whole world had come to a crashing halt when my boyfriend confessed he’d fallen out of love with me. Even my bedroom in the house I grew up in — surrounded by pictures of friends, bands and art — couldn’t offer any comfort.

I needed to escape the prison of loneliness, so I fled to my favorite music festival: GrassRoots. Held in upstate New York, GrassRoots is a four-day spectacle of partying, camping and listening to bands from all over the world. The eclectic mix of music ranges from Native American folk and Peruvian electronica to rock, bluegrass, soul, reggae and rockabilly. Because the camping is in tight quarters, festival-goers share food, alcohol, blankets and all other belongings. By the end of the festival, neighbors become family, and strangers become lifetime friends.

Noises in the night

Lying in my tent, I can’t fall asleep, even after an exhausting day of dancing and drinking at the festival. Shrieks, screams, howls, drumbeats and laughter erupt from the woods. The noises call to the wind, to the world, to the wild. A rush of electricity buzzes in my brain. One more “I yi yiiiii!” stabs into my ears, and I leap up. I need to join the people creating the noise.

It’s the first night of the festival, and everyone’s welcoming the darkness with music. As I walk barefoot into the woods, a couple greet me: “Hi friend! Happy GrassRoots!” They share the shine of their flashlight as we drift from campsite to campsite.

People I’ve never met smile and hug me when I walk by. They’re eager to share their belongings. “Hey friend, great to see you! Have a glow stick.” “Hi beautiful, would you like any food?” Their kindness is overwhelming.

As we approach the drum circle, I understand why everyone is still awake. A painted naked woman holds a tambourine with one hand and claps her fingers to her mouth with the other. Her knotty hair sways as she sits cross-legged on the dirt. Next to her, a man attacks the bongo drum with his fingers.

Glancing at the crowd, I realize these people are no different than me. They too have work on Monday. The guy dancing naked hollering in the drum circle will be in a suit waiting for the Metro on Monday morning.  They too have jobs in cubicles, work the monotonous 9-5, cook meals and wash laundry. They too could be suffering broken hearts.

But at this instant, none of that matters. For these stolen moments they have a chance to really just be.

The power of music

In the morning the sun pierces my tent. Crawling out, I stretch and change into my rainbow-hued bathing suit top and wrap a blue sarong with bright sunflowers around my waist. I place my favorite hat from when I was 7 on my head: a pink-and-red beaded veil with long white lace that falls down my back. I head to the festival to prepare for the Happiness Day Parade.

At the festival grounds I look for Ryan, the artist who’d painted my body the year before. He’s in the same spot, next to a maple tree outside the Happiness Day Parade headquarters, a barn filled with medieval costumes and capes for anyone to borrow.

Smiling as he sees me, Ryan says, “Come here, you goddess! Let me paint you.”

With a brush, Ryan splashes lines of blue and green across my shoulders and down my arms. He presses a small dish drainer around my forehead and airbrushes pink against the holes. In the middle of my forehead he sticks a silver-colored gem. With an assortment of other kitchen instruments and metal scraps he airbrushes the rest of my upper body and draws a lime green heart under my collar bones.

“Now that you look beautiful, you better get out there and dance like crazy,” Ryan says.

“Oh, I will,” I reply. Thinking, you have no idea.

After the parade I meet up with friends from home, and we’re instantly pulled to the sound of loud bongo drumming. We run right up to the main stage and see four African-American men shining in long, bright blue dresses. It’s the band Samite of Uganda. The frontman Samite wails tribal African songs as the percussion section bloomswith conga drums, bongos and native African madinas and kalimbas.

My body starts to move in ways I can’t even comprehend. My arms propel up and down, left and right. I bend close to the ground, spin on my toes and plunge into the air, all the while swinging and stomping to the beat of the drum. Sweat slides across my face, in between my knees. Paint drips down my forehead. My heart thumps louder and wilder with every beat. The music rattles my senses.

People around us join our circle. We just look at each other—laughing, smiling, twirling into a perpetual state of bliss. The 6-foot-tall man in front of me dances in his huge black top hat and long, sparkly wizard cape. The girl next to him, feathers and flowers in her hair, spins in her bright purple, orange, yellow and blue dress.

On the stage I see Ryan dancing and laughing with his friends. Our eyes meet. He jumps off the stage, shimmies over to me, eyes fiery with excitement, and shouts, “You’re doing it! You’re doing it! You’re getting crazy!” He grabs my hand and pulls me on stage.

As we dance next to the band, euphoria rushes through me. My body no longer belongs to me—some other force takes over.

Nothing matters except that moment. I am infinite.

My wizard friend dances on the other side of the stage. He pulls off his hat, shakes his head and dreadlocks tumble out down to his knees. The crowd roars.

As the music stops, I can’t even breathe. Floating in a trance, I walk off stage and bump into the wizard.

“I saw you dancing up there, getting down!” he says.

“Yeah, I saw you shaking out all your dreads.”

He looks at me, snaps his fingers side to side and starts singing, “Life just keeps getting better. Life just keeps getting better.”

A smile sprouts in my heart and conquers my whole face. All the loneliness from the break-up with my boyfriend disintegrates. Laughing wildly, I join in: “Life just keeps getter better. Life just keeps getting better.”

And even if for a moment, I knew it would.

GrassRoots: The Music

The music at GrassRoots ranges from reggae to zydeco to rock to folk to sitting-on-your-front-porch-drinking-a-beer-bluegrass. For the most part it’s all feel-good, get off your butt and dance kind of music for all ages. There are two main stages, a dance tent and a cabaret stage in a building that’s similar to a barn.

Here’s a playlist with some of my favorite performances from this year. The options on the search engine were pretty limited, but press play to gain an idea of the sounds of GrassRoots.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Read about my favorite performances while you listen:

-Donna the Buffalo:

A five-piece band infused with old-time music, mountain music, blues, rock, reggae, Cajun, folk and bluegrass. After every song, the female vocalist changes instruments: scrubboard, accordion, fiddle, guitar. I’ve never seen someone get as lost in the music as Jeb, the frontman, does. His eyes close, his mouth opens, and he’s in another world.

To quote from the GrassRoots program, “Like the herd’s trail across the prairie, Donna the Buffalo will make her mark in your heart.”

Favorite songs they played:

“Positive Friction” lyrics:

“Positive friction, under the upper crust/What does all this Hollywood really have to do with us/True grit, timeless love/There’s no reason to pretend/Lets get together and become natural once again/Natural once again…./There is a certain vibe, circulating in the air/Cast from all the energy that emanates from everywhere”

“Locket and Key” lyrics:

“There must be something in the moon and stars keeping it together when we’re falling apart.” <there must be 🙂

Check out their website here.

-Arrested Development

We were hip-hoping all over the place to their positive tunes. Most of our camp was together to watch them so it was even better.

Favorite songs:

“Ease my mind” –I need some time to ease my mind, I need some time.

“Tennessee” lyrics: “Take me to another place, take me to another land, Make me forget all that hurts me, let me understand your plan.”

Dear Arrested Development, watching your set, I forgot all that hurts me, and I was most definitely in another land. After their set, we shook hands with the whole band as they reached into the audience.

-Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

“GPGDS combine the hypnotic sounds of Jamaican music with their own conscious vibrations and eternal truths. Live in the moment, let it happen…you’ll be healed and uplifted, and that’s a guarantee.”

Check out their music here.

-The Makepeace Brothers

Very sing-along, feel-good, grooving tunes. They interact with the crowd and make sure everyone’s having fun. At one point they called contestants on stage to have a twist contest. Most of our camp was together while watching them so it made their performance much more fun.

This performance isn’t from GrassRoots, but this was their last song. Just imagine me and all my friends pointing to each other and thanking each other with every line.

-Kevin Kinsella

Another favorite reggae performance. The reggae really won me over this weekend.

Kevin’s son was at his side for the whole set. He kept singing, dancing and breaking it down. It was the most precious thing. Kevin kept singing to him and playing with him, too.

-Sim Redmond Band

One of my favorite bands. They sing pretty little simple songs that can pull anyone’s heart strings. Their songs can bring you back to a certain moment, can make you yearn for that true love, can dig their way into your heart. We watched from the second row and then moved to the back half-way through.

Favorite songs:

“Arms Around the Sun” lyrics:

“I feel strange and I feel cold/and I’m afraid of growing old/and I’m afraid if I look back/I might find a crack/or a hole in my soul…./I’ll wrap my arms around the sun.”

Their songs provide me with some deep satisfying feeling of understanding. The connection hits my heart everytime.

-Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits

As this band was starting on the Grand Stand Stage, everyone in our camp found each other in the dance tent. Once we saw the light pouring from the Grand Stand Stage, we ran to them. It was so incredibly beautiful. Oliver is a best-selling artist in his home country of Zimbabwe and it’s clear to see why. Listen to them here.

-Samite

Last year while watching this band I had an out of body experience. His hypnotizing music brings me to paradise. When looking around at the audience, it’s amazing to see all the joy Samite brings to everyone. To his spiritual, compassionate music, everyone twirls, spins and smiles. During his last song it started to rain and everyone went wild. When dancing to Samite’s music I turn into a wild animal. He brings out something inside of me I’ve never felt before. Check out a video of his last song in my previous post.

-Chiwoniso

Another beautiful band from Africa. More and more I’m beginning to realize that I need to go to Africa. The drums and chants call to me like nothing else.

After their performance I saw my friend Ryan and he asked if I’d see them. When I told him I caught some of their set, he said, “I woke up crying to their song. It was so triumphant.”

Couldn’t have said it better.

XPoNential Music Festival: Day 3

Hosted by wxpn 88.5, a radio station which broadcasts in the greater Philadelphia/South Jersey area, the XPoNential Music fest kicked off Friday and ran until Sunday. I only attended Sunday, Day 3.

My friend Lilly and I had everything planned out and were set to leave by 11 a.m. Plans tend to get a little fickle at times, and sure enough, the day began in limbo. Lilly’s link to print her ticket was broken. After waiting for awhile, she decided not to come and I trekked down to Camden.

When I pulled up around 2:15 p.m., I could hear Dawes playing, “Love is All I Am.” Dawes kept unexpectedly making their way to my ears at Bonnaroo, and I’ve been listening to them since. They’re a punch of rock and a splash of folk sprinkled with pleasant harmonies. Check out their myspace here.

I hurried inside the venue and ran down the hill to the main stage. (There were three stages-one was the kid’s stage. The main stage was set against the Delaware River with downtown Philly’s buildings sprouting out.)

Main Stage

I got there in time for, “When my time comes,” Dawes’ current hit. After partaking in some loud and cheerful singing with the people next to me, I took a look around. All down the hill people laid out blankets and chairs. Bleachers also lined the top of the hill.

With the city, water, and handful of trees peeking out in the background, the scenery made for one nice venue. There was definitely a big crowd, but it wasn’t too crowded and judging from the people I just met during Dawes set, people were friendly and willing to talk music. (The way music festival fans should be 🙂 We discussed Edward Sharpe and the magical experience we were all in for.)

After that song I met up with my friends, Bob and PJ. We finished watching Dawes then relaxed under a tree while The Holmes Brothers played.

Once they were finished, we moved closer to the stage for These United States.

Marina Stage

 I caught one of their Daytrotter sessions and was psyched to see them. Check out one of their sessions here.

While the crowd lounged on the grass/blankets, the five-piece band began their story-telling through music. When the lead singer, Jesse Elliott talks, he has a hush, low, sexy voice that reminds me of Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday and reminded PJ of Fabrizio Moretti from The Strokes. Sidenote: I adore anyone who reminds me of Adam.  

As we got up to get a good spot for Edward Sharpe, they started playing my favorite song, First Sight. Check out the video. P.S. the lyrics are amazing.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Anyone who’s been to an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show will look at you with a twinkle in their eye as a smile quickly approaches. Even though Edward Sharpe have songs featured on commercials and in trailers now, they’re still the same in-the-moment, child-like spirit, feel-good folk-rock-hippie-jam band they’ve always been. Don’t believe me? Check out their opening song:

Throughout the show the 10-piece took us on a journey of reconciliation, happiness, love, positive energy, whistling and confetti, lots of confetti. At one point, Alex, the frontman, (his name is not Edward Sharpe) said, “I just so happen to have this confetti in my back pocket” and threw it into the audience. Jade and Alex would randomly yell, “Namaste” and other small ditties about enjoying life, “Be here now.” 

Alex's infamous red scarf

Alex’s voice has a haunting, eerie quality to it that matches the intensity in his face. Sometimes he looks completely lost, or like he’s gazing off into some infinite abyss that only he can see. Shimmering light speckled through the trees and stage banners projecting a happiness only a band like Edward Sharpe could awaken.

Alex lost his voice, but it wasn’t a problem. Jade filled in. Jade and her big, bad, soothing, shy voice. The previous times I’ve seen them, Jade has been shy on stage. This time, she seemed completely confident. I was so proud of her!

Another thing I noticed about this performance: Alex and Jade seemed much happier and comfortable with each other. (quick interjection: they used to date.) During ‘Up From Below’ Alex grabbed Jade’s hand while singing, “All the friends I treated like dirt” and looked at her so sincerely as if he was apologizing. I felt like they finally reconciled.

I honestly don’t even know if they were fighting but at their other performances (Coachella and Bonnaroo) they seemed to be on rough terms. Even though I don’t know them personally, they bring me so much joy and it made me happy to see them happy.

After their set we moved up in the crowd and waited for Dr. Dog.

Dr. Dog

While I enjoy listening to Dr. Dog in my car and on my iPod, the music just doesn’t compare to their live performances. After seeing them, I am a fully converted fan; I want to see them again and again.

Their guitar thrashing and raw vocals blend together into a tasty rock smoothie that goes down tumbling but still leaves you screaming for more. And their energy on stage, awesome! At times their guitars took control of the guitarists, pulling them towards each other. The crowd went wild with every chord.

Check out a quick blurb from their encore:

Set list:

1. Shadow People

2. Stranger

3. I Only Wear Blue

4. The Beach

5. The Breeze

6. Someday

7.  Hang On

8.  Mirror Mirror

9.  Station

10.  The Old Days

11. The Way The Lazy Do

12. Shame, Shame

13. The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer

Encore:

Jackie Wants a Black Eye

We left after their set.

Small slurp of happiness from the day: On the walk to the car we saw Christian, the guitarist from Edward Sharpe. We walked right by him but didn’t say anything because he was engaged in conversation. A couple minutes later he started walking in our direction. I jumped up and walked over to him.

“You were awesome, man! Great show!” His face lit up with appreciation. We went to shake hands but it quickly turned into a hug.

Even though I got lost on the way home (by simply following signs for the NJ Turnpike) the energy and happiness from the festival ran through me, and I felt like nothing could shake me. While driving I turned on wxpn to hear the rest of the festival: the performance by Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I was definitely moving and grooving in my car. I heard bits of, “I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland, pretty mamma come and take me by the hand” and “Maggie’s Farm” by Bob Dylan. I could feel all their big ol’ soulful sound busting through my speakers.

After that I popped in one of my Sim Redmond Band albums and let the sweet, summer breeze and sounds of Sim’s voice guide me home. It turned out to be a great day.

 

Bonnaroo: Volunteering with Clean Vibes

Where did everybody go?

On Monday when everyone was packing up and leaving the Bonnaroo community, we moved our campsite to the camping area for Clean Vibes volunteers. After re-setting up our campsite, we walked around for about 20 minutes to look for a shower. Every time we came to a shower and our hopes rose, they died instantly as we tried to turn the showers on. All of the showers were shut off.

While looking for showers we also looked around the fields. Ground scores. Think of all the things people bring to a festival. Now think of all those things left behind. You name it, it was left behind. We saw full campsites equipped with tents, chairs, couches, coolers, clothes. I honestly felt like it was the end of the world and we were the last human beings on Earth, just taking whatever we could to survive. We found at least three 30 packs of beer and four coolers so we were set for the night/rest of the week. I found a spray bottle/mister/portable fan and was happy.

After walking another 15 minutes back to camp, unshowered and sweating, we laid at our campsite and just baked in the sun. Without shade. All weekend I was fine, but my body was starting to feel every burn, ache and sun ray. After lying around for a while, I ventured back out to find a shower. I ended up sneaking into the medical tents showers and showering for at least 20 minutes. The water wasn’t too cold, but I didn’t even care.

That night I met a lot of really cool people, hung out, listened to music and played soccer.

The next day we were woken up at 7 a.m. to free breakfast courtesy of Clean Vibes. And boy did it feel good to eat a real meal. I was extremely grateful for every bite of my eggs, sausage, homefries and yogurt. And coffee. After an experience like Bonnaroo, a few days of eating whatever you can whenever you can, a homecooked meal is the best thing that can fall into your hands. You really lean how to appreciate things, even after a couple days. That’s another thing I love about music festivals- they open my eyes to things I don’t even think about missing.

We were all set scheduled to work on the purple team. We were excited to clean the fields and find more ground scores while working. Instead, we were sent to a giant pile of recycled bottles and trash. For eight hours we had to dig through the trash, sort through recyclables, cardboard and compost.

As bags would come in to the yard we would tear them open and sort through, leaving the recyclables behind and taking the compost away, but mainly just tearing open bags.

Shade under the truck, feeling like the Box Car Kids

The sun was shining all day and our only hope for shade was hiding under a dumptruck/leaning on a dumpster. We got an hour break for lunch with free delicious sandwiches, cookies, fruit, chips and water.

Once we got back to work, the clouds overhead started enclosing the sky above us. A girl asked our boss, “Can we still work in this?” He responded with, “Yea we’re fine.” Not even five minutes later, the thunder roared and the rain came down, “Seek shelter” our boss screamed. Everyone ran in every direction. We started running back into Centeroo and ended up seeking shelter in the back of a tractor-trailer. It was such a relief for rain to fall after five sweltering days in a row. The rain also cut two hours out of our day work day.

Blurb from my journal after Day 1:

“As we were digging through the trash this morning and sorting through recycle, compost and trash, I started seriously thinking about trash. What is trash? What makes the cut for the definition of trash? Who’s to say what’s trash and what’s not? Who’s to say what’s anything really? Life is all about perspective. How you see, view, feel, taste, smell, touch, experience things.

The only thing I was certain about was compost. So I pretty much stuck to that. A playground of trash. A sea of recyclables. A sea of trash, of plastic. Where does all the trash in the world go? The recyclables? How exactly does compost work? Recycling? I want to learn a step by step process.

I haven’t stopped sweating since I got here. Haven’t sweated for so much, so long, so consistently ever in my life.

It was a really humbling experience to go through the trash today- knee-deep and sometimes waist deep in huge piles of it. For the most part I did a good job of sucking in my breath and holding my nose so the sour-smell wouldn’t infiltrate my nostrils.

I’ve never been outside for so long in my life. I’ve been living outside for almost a week. That in itself has been a mind-altering experience.

“When outside every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of mind, from breathless noon to the grimmest midnight…To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” -Emerson

 In certain ways I feel like I’ve lived here all along. It’s been so cool, so amazing to see the Earth at every hour of the day. At times it’s as if I’ve lost touch with reality, but then again, what is reality?”

A closer view of the 'trash'

After completing the second days 8-hour shift, I felt extremely good about everything. I was so happy to be able to help make the Earth beautiful again and to realize the impact we all made by volunteering. It was a very rewarding experience.

So would I volunteer with Clean Vibes again? Most likely.

The advantages:

-Meeting really cool people

-Making the Earth beautiful again

-Having a huge impact on the environment

-Finding sweet ground scores (Team Purple found the best ones out of everyone 😉 )

-Free meals

-Pretty much a free admission to the festival

Disadvantages:

-Working in the unforgiving southern sun

-Performing physical labor including bending and stooping

-Performing physical labor in the unforgiving southern sun

If you’re interested in volunteering with Clean Vibes, head to their website and fill out an application.

We did it!