Gainesville’s Impact on One of America’s Largest Music Festivals
This year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival’s 15th anniversary was one for the record books.
With increased sustainability measures, real toilets(!), mouth-watering food and, of course, outstanding musical acts, the good vibes and positivity were felt all around the 15-acre farmland in Manchester, Tennessee.
Apart from all of these awesome achievements, Gainesville had a huge presence from 500 miles away. Three local businesses did their part to make Bonnaroo yet another smashing success. Pure Energy Solar, GainesvilleScene and We Are Neutral radiated love all the way to Manchester and back.
Pure Energy Solar, who specializes in solar energy system design and installation, provided Bonnaroo with solar-powered cell phone charging stations. (Campers were fiending to revive dead iPhones and post Instagrams photo under the colorful Roo arch.)
GainesvilleScene, who has become a staple publication in the Southeastern music festival circuit, conducted artist interviews, festival coverage and shared the day-by-day Roo experience via Instagram.
And We Are Neutral, a nonprofit that gives individuals and businesses an opportunity to locally offset their carbon footprint, worked to offset the environmental impact of the entire festival.
We Are Neutral’s General Manager, Anna Sampson, shared with us a little more about how her little slice of Gainesville helped make an internationally known event a sustainable weekend of bliss.
How did We Are Neutral become the official carbon offset partner of Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival?
We were introduced to Bonnaroo in 2010 by Pure Energy Solar (thanks guys!). Carbon offsets and carbon emission education have always been a top priority for Bonnaroo, and we were brought on as their carbon offsetting partner in 2010. They already had a team called the “Carbon Shredders” to educate attendees about the harmful effects of carbon emissions and ways we can reduce / offset them, and We Are Neutral was passed the baton to lead the “Carbon Shredders” in 2014.
What was your set-up like this year at Bonnaroo?
Each year, we try to provide an opportunity for attendees to offset the carbon footprint of their travel to and from the festival. Starting last year, we have displayed a 5+ foot paper maché globe that spins (designed and created by Raymond Rawls). Attendees can put an offsetting pin in the globe representing where they’re from, and offset their footprint with us. We also had a pallet wall with the prompt “What kind of world do you want to live in?” that attendees could write on.
Why do you think music and sustainability go hand in hand?
Maybe not all music, but sustainability is definitely aligned with the music heard at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. The attendees have a common bond to the earth in their passions and as they listen to music barefoot in the grass. The musicians use their platforms to inspire and motivate listeners to make a change. We had over 700 attendees opt in to offset the carbon footprint of their travel at our booth.
What does We Are Neutral do to help people be “carbon neutral”?
We Are Neutral is able to calculate the carbon footprint of a business, home, music festival, etc. in order to understand what it would take to compensate for their emissions. My home’s electricity, gas and water, for instance, creates 4 tons of carbon emissions each year. I purchase 4 tons of carbon offsets from We Are Neutral, and they use that money to create the offsets locally. Thus making my house carbon neutral!
How did We Are Neutral help the Manchester community before the start of Bonnaroo?
We Are Neutral takes pride in creating locally generated carbon offsets. Meaning, we want to create carbon offsets right in the backyard of the offsetter! For four years, we have been performing free energy retrofits for low income homes in the Coffee County area and have completed 440 units so far. This means that for each family, we replace light bulbs with energy efficient ones, insulate water heater pipes, install low-flow shower heads, install low-flow faucet aerators, test hot water temperatures, educate the resident on energy saving tips, etc. In the past we have been able to save these families a little over 13 percent on their utility bills.
How can people get involved with We Are Neutral in Gainesville?
We have two main offsetting projects that you can be involved with in Gainesville: planting indigenous trees on conservation land and retrofitting low income homes. If you email firstname.lastname@example.org, we can put you on our volunteer list.
As always, Happy ‘Roo, and we look forward to seeing even more Gainesville love on the Farm next summer.