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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Whole Earth Festival approaches, planning is in full swing

From May 11 to 13, the UC Davis Quad will become home to the 43rd annual Whole Earth Festival.

For this event, which is a unit of ASUCD, a variety of local food vendors, performers, alternative-living educators and more will gather to both entertain and educate students about the values of living sustainably. Although there are several activities meant to entertain the festival-goers such as arts and crafts booths, live musicians and even massage tables, at the core of the festival is the goal of preserving the planet.

“Both on campus and off campus we try and bring people together who are linked by the common goal of wanting to keep the earth a long-lasting place for us,” said Willee Roberts, a senior international relations major and Karma Patrol Supporter for the festival.

As a Karma Patrol Supporter, Roberts is partially responsible for the recruitment of the group of 400 volunteers, dubbed the Karma Patrol (KP), needed to work in the event’s various areas, including the performance stages, the kids’ space and the resource recovery zone where compost is sorted.

Currently, Roberts and his fellow KP Supporters are working fervently to show students how their volunteer work is not only necessary for the festival’s operation, but an enjoyable and rewarding experience as well.

“Volunteers get a very special experience,”  Roberts said. “Aside from the perks of having a free meal every shift and getting a free T-shirt, they get to see the Quad transformed from a patch of grass to a very energetic space.”

Moreover, Roberts stressed the valuable lessons about sustainability that the festival might teach both volunteers and visitors alike. The event strives to show attendees how possible it is to be “zero-waste,” or producing no landfill-bound garbage.

In the past, roughly 97 percent of the waste from the festival has been recycled or composted each year. This is largely due to the use of reusable plates and eating utensils which are washed rather than thrown in the trash, as well as the strict monitoring of any waste products being brought into the festival by both vendors and visitors.

Junior sustainable agriculture and food systems major Lauren Cockrell, another KP Supporter, insisted that the festival’s legacy of sustainability and friendliness could not be upheld without the assistance of student volunteers.

“Volunteers are the life-blood of the festival,”  Cockrell said in an e-mail interview. “All of our values as a festival – being truly zero-waste, cultivating creativity and compassion – are only possible because volunteers give their time and energy to the fest.”

Volunteers play a crucial role in the operation of the festival, and as such they reap a number of non-monetary benefits from their participation in the Karma Patrol. Besides receiving free meals and a Whole Earth Festival T-shirt for volunteering at any of the stations, volunteers learn valuable skills and improve social connections. According to Roberts, the Karma Patrol meetings and non-violence workshops give volunteers an opportunity to bond while learning valuable lessons on how to effectively and peacefully manage conflicts that may arise during the event.

Nonviolence is one of the many core values that KP Supporters teach new volunteers during training. All core values share the goal of fulfilling the festival’s primary purpose: using art and other educational outlets to make students more passionate about activism and the environment.

Often it winds up being the volunteers themselves who become more avid activists and environmentalists.

“Volunteering last year was really cool,” said Tyicia Deloney, a junior psychology major. “The environment was nice, everyone was friendly, you didn’t have to be drunk to have fun, and it was enjoyable for all ages. It was a great experience.”

Deloney intends to volunteer again this May.

In a school year that has seen much campus controversy, Roberts stressed the festival’s importance in showing students and campus visitors that UC Davis peers are capable of working together toward a common goal — in this case, protecting the environment.

“It’s good to celebrate our alternatives,”  Roberts said. “We need to show that we’re not just pissed off about something but that we can also present solutions.”

Anybody interested in volunteering can sign up on the Whole Earth Festival’s website at wef.ucdavis.edu. Information about the festival, including programs, is available on the festival’s website.

Karma Patrol meetings occur each Wednesday at 7 p.m.; locations vary and can be found on the Whole Earth Festival website.

DYLAN GALLAGHER can be reached at dylaaaaan@gmail.com.


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