Anyone who has ever been to a music festival knows about the excessive amount of waste produced during the course of a generally amazing experience. The day after people pack up their tents, chairs, and grills, shoving them into their trunks in a way less organized way than they were removed, and then drive off back into the real world, the field that previously housed thousands of people is not much but a large trash can and dead grass. Project Nuevo Mundo, a group of like minded activists, have set out to change this stigma for the better.
David Casey, on of the creators of PNM, was interviewed by Lost in Sound about his plans and visions for the future. Although based in Oakland, Casey has spent a lot of his time living in sustainable communities in Latin America, and co-founded a music festival in Guatemala called Cosmic Convergence. He, and twenty other people are taking buses from southern California to Central America, making stops at gatherings and setting up ecovillages in the process. They are calling it their “Earth Odyssey” and calling themselves “Econauts”, which although may make me cringe slightly, obviously fills them with a sense of pride and purpose.
Wording or labeling aside, what they achieve may be a very healthy step forward for festival sustainability, and help create ecologically conscious communities along the way. So how can a festival impact people’s ideas about sustainable living? When asked about this Mr. Casey stated, “[The festival] trains its attendees with interactive hands-on techniques on how to build up sustainable infrastructure geared towards sustaining human settlements, while simultaneously building the infrastructure during the event.” This would require the land for the festival to be owned, rather than rented, by the festival runners. So the infrastructure that is built by people when they visit stays permanently, and creates a sustainable, ecovillage-like community.
So not only will the festivals be a community gathering to experience music and art, it will also be what Casey refers to as a “transitional” experience, educating people to be able to create sustainable living communities. However I can’t see anything like this happening on a large scale, say your Coachellas and Lollapaloozas, and the tribal nature of it may turn a few people off. What Project Nuevo Mundo reminds me of is sort of a Burning Man type of deal. At Burning Man, you rely on yourself and others, creating a communal like feel, and at the end of it there is no trace left of the festival. The only difference between this and PNM is that PNM wants to leave a trace, and that trace would manifest itself in a working ecovillage.
Time will tell if the econauts vision will catch on, as far as I can tell they are still on their quest, but it does seem like an interesting idea. Being able to cut down on waste and educate folks, while at the same time giving them a unique and entertaining experience, could inspire other larger festivals to do the same. These methods, at their grandest, could create a paradigm shift in the world of music and art festivals. Yet all I’m really hoping for is an added interest into sustainable living, especially in big commercial businesses like festivals.
Photo – solpurpose.com
Link to Interview – http://lostinsound.org/2013/10/14/project-nuevo-mundo-bridging-gap-festivals-sustainable-living/