With the spring season blooming around the corner, so will the highly anticipated Whole Earth Festival (WEF) on May 6 to 8.
What once started as an art class in 1969, WEF is centered around sustainability through art, music and education. This year’s festival will revert back to what WEF originally was: a student experiment, said Mona Shahab, a senior nature and culture major and co-director of WEF. Dr. José Argüelles, WEF’s founder and an art studio professor at UC Davis, passed away earlier in the year.
“It’s all about letting go any limitations you place on yourself and being able to connect fully with everyone around you,” Shahab said. “This year we are going to do a tribute to [Argüelles]. The theme really reflects the core values that the festival was founded on. I hope that through our efforts we can really get people to a place where we’re all at the same understanding of why we’re here and why we’re doing this.”
This year’s theme, Consciousness Cultivating Compassion, is about being conscious of who you are in order to have compassion for others, Shahab said.
WEF strives to embody the goals of sustainability, including zero waste, said Dylan Tarnoff, co-director of WEF. The goal is to have zero percent of the waste go to landfills, and to sort through all of the recyclables and compost what can be composted.
Tarnoff also said that all of the vendors go through a strict screening process to ensure that they are environmentally conscious. For example, the food provided should come from local sources and the crafts should be hand-made.
“Overall, we are a model not only for this campus but for all other festivals and events around the country,” he said.
Volunteering is the best way to participate in the festival, Tarnoff said. The festival is run entirely on the efforts of volunteers.
“If we consciously are putting our values and ideals into action then that is cultivating greater compassion for the earth and for each other,” he said.
Those interested in being volunteers, known as the Karma Patrol (KP), will meet on May 4 in the northeast corner of the quad at 7 p.m. About 300 to 400 volunteers are needed for the entire weekend, Tarnoff said. The minimum shift is four hours, but the KP would appreciate volunteers to take at least one shift a day.
Volunteers get free vegan food at the event and receive a one-of-a-kind hand-screen printed t-shirt. The artwork on the shirts was submitted by local artists, and no other shirts are sold at the festival, Shahab said.
KP encourages its volunteers to take nonviolence workshops put on by KP, Tarnoff said. They will learn about nonviolence communication and how to deal with situations that may arise at the festival.
Shahab noted that there are multiple levels of participation, from volunteering and composting, to listening to the music and absorbing the spirit of the festival.
Coinciding with the theme, during KP meetings there are heart connection workshops to help the volunteers feel comfortable with themselves and the people they will be working with, Shahab said.
WEF is a self-sustaining unit with a proposed budget of $101,372 for 2010-2011. Of that money, $96,963 is expected to go toward administrative and programmatic costs.
Leading up to the grand event, Sunday Sol occurs every Sunday in April and is sponsored by WEF, in which local DJs play music in the quad.
“It’s not just a festival,” Shahab said. “It’s not just music, good food, and crafts. It’s a lot more than that.”
To join KP’s e-mail list serve and learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit wef.ucdavis.edu.
MARTHA GEORGIS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.