Can a Musical Festival Inspire an Ideal Community?

If you could create your own community, what would it look like? Would it be sustainable and tread lightly on the earth? Each year, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival transforms wide open spaces on “The Farm” in Manchester, Tennessee, into a place for tens of thousands of people to eat, drink, and experience life and music together.

“We have the luxury of creating an ideal community because we build the site from scratch each year,” explains Laura Sohn, Director of Sustainability for Bonnaroo. The tangible signs of the Bonnaroovian code (“respect the farm and respect your surroundings”) include the reusable steel cups offered at the festival that eliminate the need for single-use plastic.

For the past three years, Plastic Pollution Coalition has partnered with Bonnaroo to promote the steel cups and a greater Refill Revolution movement to reduce our plastic footprint on this planet. This year, Bonnaroo will take the revolution further by promoting education on sustainable communities within the smaller Planet Roo area.

“Planet Roo is a haven for sustainability and global consciousness, and a diverse group of non-profit organizations will be represented this year,” explains Sohn, who adds that the education Academy will have classes and workshops on everything from social justice ballads to cooking classes and how to take the sustainability message back to your community. “The reuse message ties in so well with the idea of what a healthy community looks like.”

In addition to promoting the reuse message, PPC will provide education on how to get involved in the Refill Revolution at home and how to start a plastic bag ban in your town. In the words of Bonnaroo co-founder Rick Farman: “The dream is that people take what they learn here and bring it home with them and live their lives differently.”

See also: Voices of the Refill Revolution

From its roots at ‘Roo, PPC is building a scalable Refill Revolution project for other festivals and events, supporting a true revolution in sustainability and plastic pollution reduction worldwide. The program provides festivals and event planners with models for developing a reusable infrastructure, top to bottom, while partnering on messaging and branding to get the word out to fans, followers, and other festivals.

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