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Davis, California

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Davis celebrates life at Whole Earth Festival

Thousands of tie-dyed, barefoot and nature-loving visitors descended upon Davis for the 41st annual Whole Earth Festival last weekend.

The three-day event began last Friday and lasted till Sunday, celebrating sustainable living and appreciating our Earth with the theme “From the Ground Up.”

“What it means for us is just not involving ourselves with what no longer serves us. [We are] focusing on what doesn’t work, focusing on what does work and rebuilding it from the ground up,” said Ayse Gursoz, co-director of the festival. “We are actually working together with people, with the staff and all these volunteers and collaborators and we really do literally build this festival from the ground up.”

Festival-goers had their pick of several stages and “spaces” to watch performances by local bands and dance groups, and participate in a number of workshops.

One popular destination was the Soular Dance Stage, located in front of Wellman. Highlights included performances by the UC Davis dance group Mobility and the cast of Studio 301’s production of the musical Hair.

At Cedar Stage in front of Walker Hall, KDVS hosted an afternoon of live music and dancing. Children could make their own flower wreaths and kaleidoscopes at the Kids’ Space.

However, the Quad was the main hub of activity. Over 100 art, jewelry and food vendors lined the outside of the grass, while classes such as “OMG! Orgasm Your Dreams to Screaming Success” were conducted in the center.

“It’s amazing because you see this Quad transform into something completely different,” Gursoz said. “On the rim you see a lot of craft vendors but then you go to the center and there’s Sacred Space and Experiential Space workshops like learning how to live in more sustainable ways.”

Joe Levy said this was his first time attending WEF as a craft vendor. His company, Yeoman Organics, sells organic clothing designed by UC Davis students.

“I’ve been on the other side of the booth, walking around and seeing everything, when I went to Davis,” said Levy, who graduated in 2009 with a degree in economics. “I like Whole Earth a lot and it’s a lot of fun. I’d love to come back.”

Though thousands of people come to Whole Earth every year, some experienced the festival for the very first time this weekend.

“It’s great! They turned the Memorial Union into a market,” said Maria Reunggeary, UC Davis Extension student and WEF first-timer. “I think I’m going to walk around and buy something. I really support the sustainable living message.”

Keeping the festival completely sustainable and as close to zero-waste as possible is always an important element of the weekend. The Whole Earth Reusables Cooperative (WERC) oversaw the reusing, recycling and composting of all of the event’s waste.

Instead of paper dishware, the WERC instituted a loaning system for reusable dishes. Use of a plate, cup or utensil cost one dollar per item. After returning the dishware, patrons received their money back.

“After the festival we only have a minuscule amount of pounds of waste, when really for something in this scale you’d expect there to be so much waste,” Gursoz said. “Being also that there are 300-plus volunteers, everybody helps each other along or reminds people. But a lot of people do already see that, oh, [recycling is] what we’re supposed to do.”

From the families picnicking on the grass to the friendly young man carrying a sign offering “Organic Hugs,” it’s clear that peace, love and harmony were the orders of the day.

The most popular thing to do at Whole Earth is to soak in the sun, get the vitamin D and feel the love, Gursoz said.

“It’s so crazy at Picnic Day, but there’s a lot of heart here at Whole Earth,” Gursoz said. “We’ve maintained a mellow vibe. It has gone swimmingly.”

ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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