I, Human

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An Introduction to Technology and Media of Our New Village

(Originally published as the introduction to the Technology section in Reinhabiting the Village)

“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”
– 
Albert Camus

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To write an introduction to Technology for the purposes of re-entering our communal village is to write a history of society from our humble roots. No other animal has tapped into the sacred knowledge of its surroundings to create such an exponential impact on its environment. Wildly creative and devastatingly destructive, the long march of progress is our genetic and manufactured legacy. But if we are, as Camus claims, the singular creature who refuses to remain true to our nature, then is that not the very essence of Man?

Before we jump into the meal, let’s set the table with an attempt at defining Technology. I propose the following: Technology is any means of invention harnessed to express that which was previously unable to be expressed.

That is, it is any creation along the timeline of existence that has helped us to accomplish something that we were otherwise unable to accomplish. This includes smartphones and the code which drives its software. It includes pens and the symbols we draw with them to communicate with one another. In fact, it includes the very intonation of sound beyond the most animalistic of grunts and songs, what we call language.

Technology is everything that separates us from our most primitive nature; it is the vehicle by which we refuse to be what we are.

The Technomythology of Man (Prometheus Absolved)

First, there was a body. With it, legs and limitations, opposable thumbs and an instinct for survival. The corporeal experience was a deep inner knowledge of foraging and fighting. Displays of dominance intermingled with the discovery of cooperation.

The uneasy balance of consequence and community elevated our bodies from a vessel of cells into an expression of a complex system of movement and sound, dance and song.

We learned to communicate our needs, and fulfill them in ourselves and those in our nearest surroundings. In time, those needs became wants and desires. These luxuries became staples of the human experience: shelter, warmth, and companionship.

Touch and noise were not enough for our genetic ancestors, they sought understanding. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, takes this one step further, saying that “love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

Out of body language came symbols. Out of noises came expressions. We carved our identity into our surroundings, painting in caves, drawing in sand. We sought connection and a shorthand way to express knowledge. Our time was short and our legacies were always in danger. We utilized the technologies of primitive tools and language to make our lives easier. Convenience was a survival tactic.

How complex thought evolved from language is, at this moment, a chicken and egg conundrum for cognitive historians. When man began to name the animals, the trees and their children, they began utilizing a nodal, pattern-based cognition in a way that few creatures can claim.

I should state that I am not a linguistic anthropologist. But as the question of how language originated remains one of the most confounding evolutionary questions remaining, I think it is safe to posit the following: it seems likely that through language, we evolved into consciousness and self awareness. Sounds turned to symbols, or perhaps they turned into words, or perhaps symbols turned into sounds and back into symbols.

In the Biblical creation myth, Man names the animals and only much later does he feast on the fruit of knowledge, able to determine good from bad. But the fruit must be a superfluous symbol at this point; we had already begun our need to understand.

By identifying the relationships between us and not-us, the vastness of the Universe began its true unfolding. All technological progress has been an unwinding of the sacred truths in the mysteries of the physical world. We have always found the next level of technology in the discovery of new traits in the natural world: fire, wheel, paper… All invention is inherently organic, coming from the complex fabric of the chemical, electrical and energetic intricacies of our surroundings.

But the mythological components of invention — the aspects of discovery that linked man to the spirit — have been replaced by a faith in the ingenuity of human cleverness. Because our technological advances are shrouded in complexity, in biotech or microprocessors or satellite systems, we have lost the appreciation for the grand mystery of it all.

Since the Age of Reason, we have absolved Prometheus of his sin — delivering fire to humans from the hands of Zeus — and unnecessarily stripped the sacrament from science.  

If there’s one tangible synergy that the Village can bring to Technology, it is to rekindle the flame of coexistence between the unnecessary bifurcation between spirit and science. The answers we seek must bridge the gap between the holy paradox of knowing and not-knowing.

Synchromysticism

All of these technological advances have been mired by the sheer force of distance. Across vast continents, we developed an inability to speak the same language. We built systems too complex, too full of proprietary nuance for one person to understand and we became inextricably interdependent on each other’s specializations.

And we too became more complex, more proprietary and more nuanced. We said, “I cannot understand myself, let alone my brother,” and we sought a creator mysterious and vast enough to know us.

We have accomplished so much of what we could imagine: space flight, telepathy in the form of smartphones, solar power. Exponential growth in science and technology are closing the gaps between reality and our wildest dreams.

Freud conceptualizes the distance between Man and his gods as the distance between what he could do and what was unattainable. “Now he has himself approached very near to realizing this ideal, he has nearly become a god himself,” he writes. “Future ages will produce further great advances in this realm of culture, probably inconceivable now, and will increase man’s likeness to a god still more.”

Every step of the way, our collective intelligence has been the method of discovery. This is what I’m referring to as synchromysticism: the ability of our shared experiences to lead to the “Eureka” moments that make inventors famous. How could there ever be a Thomas Edison without the universe from which he came? How many people may have simultaneously discovered fire or the wheel or a toothbrush but had no way to share it with the world? What are the core truths hidden amongst all of the world’s religions?

Many of these systems — trademark, copyright, Digital Rights Management — will come to a close within time. It is so rare to truly “discover” anything in this world without borrowing: from another culture, era or field. All technology is a remix of what came before it.

How often have you thought of a brilliant idea, only to think, “someone must have already thought of that”? Before the internet age, you may have still executed that idea, done it differently, or at least experienced the act of simultaneous creation. Now, though you may be put off to doing something that’s already been done, you are also able to connect with those who share in the same line of thinking. Great minds think alike, as they say.

For centuries, the means of transmitting information had become increasingly proprietary.

Revealed truths became codified and canonized in secret tongues, held by kings and mystics. Mythology became a seasonal experience, called upon for harvest, for rain, for teaching children their obligations and initiate them into adulthood, to move the soul from the physical realm to the one after life.

Was it necessary for the mystic, the shaman, the priest(ess) to separate themselves from the general population? Or for religion to hide knowledge in the catacombs of bureaucracy? In the New Village, we see a need for universal training in mystical thinking: infusing healing, prayer, and medicine into every corner of life. We desire open source spirituality, and an interface for sharing sacred knowledge, plugging in variables from our own experience and connecting to a larger database of generational understanding.

Technology as Universal Language

In getting back to the history of our humble little planet… Just when Nationalism had scarred our surfaces… Just when World War had hardened our hearts… Just when nihilism seemed to explain it all… We built a computer.

In this neutral instrument of war, we saw a glimmer of ourselves in its mainframe. Its electrical pulses and analytical thought showed us what was unique in the human condition. The analytical components of computation shined a light on our states of both Calculator and Being.

The millennia of ambiguous metaphor was sliced apart, and a cross section of humanity exposed itself of its true nature. We began to analyze The Code. Data. DNA. Algorithmic regularity. In a long stream of 1’s and 0’s, reality revealed itself like a chess game with basic rules but a playbook of infinite possibilities.

We began to read the code and we took the new language and wrote it into pictures and phones and medicine. We played and warred and danced to it. And we turned our consciousness back into itself, discovering the possibilities and limitations in encapsulating an entire human being into a digital language.

Wind through your hair. Boredom. Orgasm. The taste of water. Any and all experience have an underlying electrical/chemical reaction. We simultaneously became both infinitesimally small and quantumly expansive. As we become more bionic, we begin to better understand and appreciate the sensory experiences this world has to offer.

Living Life by the Scientific Method

Perhaps the greatest joy in incorporating all of these advances into our new village is finding the synergy between what has always worked in communal experiences and what is new and exciting to the senses. By infusing the scientific method into the sacred art of living, we are capable of building systems that address the needs of our time in the most tangible and accessible way possible.

In the 20th century, many villages were conceived and created based on back-to-nature principles that excluded themselves from the modern conveniences of the era. As previously mentioned, technology and convenience are a means of survival. They make repetitive tasks easier, allowing us to focus on what the next opportunities could be in our evolutionary growth.

In the 21st century and beyond, if we can embrace modernity and re-imagine the tools of mass culture for the purposes of building connection as opposed to ego-driven self-interests, we can synthesize the need for living as a village and enjoying the fruits of our technological advances. By utilizing the scientific method, we create experiments in living that do not limit the parameters of success to whether an idea does or does not work. Instead, we can play out our ideas and learn from the real-life examples as a means of growth and deeper understanding. By sharing our experiences, through words, videos and travel, we accept our role in the outcomes of our own generation. We feel gratitude towards the progress which brought us to this point. We humbly embrace the challenge to leave the world better for future generations.

Festivals Should Encourage Our Freak Flags to Fly

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Sombrero

(originally posted at Fest300)

Beyond the party, after the substances lose their mystery, once our friends have disappeared into the aether of “see-you-at-the-next-one,” we finally arrive home. We put on some downtempo beats, step into that long, delicious post-festival shower, and eventually find our reflection staring strangely back at us in the mirror.

The wristband, the speck of glitter, the costume piece we just don’t want to take off, they’re the subtle reminders of the freak flag flying inside of us. Our return to normal, the “decompression” after a festival, is a stark and sometimes painful reminder that there are facets to our personalities longing to be set free and accepted.

In 2011, I had to drive off-site to pick up some thousand feet of extension cables for The Do LaB. I decided to keep my little pink pig ears on as I walked into the Home Depot. They fit so perfectly, the headband disappearing into my shaggy, wild hair. Upon asking the way to the bathroom, an employee pointed in its direction, and out of nowhere, turned to me with a smile and said, “Do you want to race there?”

I turned, stunned. We raced. It was playful and out of the ordinary. It was one of those strange moments that brings a little bit more magic into the seemingly mundane.

That process of elevating the everyday into something sacred or rare is a special art form. Performance art, maybe. The art of living. And we often look to artists to teach us how to live, how to express our wildest selves.

Don’t Dream It, Be It

Lucidity 2015 Michelle Grambeau Girl Clown Face

In the outpouring of sadness around David Bowie’s death, one particular sentiment stuck out to me, from Medium.com author, Sara Benincasa:

He was the patron saint of all my favorite fellow travelers: the freaks, the fags, the dykes, the queers, the weirdos of all stripes, and that most dangerous creature of all: the artist… He was so marvelously, spectacularly weird, and he gave so many oddballs, including this one, hope.

Throughout time, festivals have served as a crossroads of the sacred and profane, marking challenging human experiences with ceremony beyond the realm of mortal understanding. They are an invitation to figuratively dance with death, to try on new faces or personas, to slip into another gender or even play the role of the gods (see, for example, Donald Cosentino’s compendium Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou ).

That’s why, in the face of hate or bigotry, in light of a certain festival co-opting the language of transformational festivals in favor of the medieval values that repress free expression, we celebrate the freaky weirdos that teach us how to live, and inspire us to be better.

Opening the Portal

Lerina Winter 2015 Holding Hands

Photo by: Lerina Winter

Festivals are that gateway to discovering the artist within. It’s the job of a festival to create a safe space for self-expression and experimentation. Festivals and their festies create new maps and chart new territory. We cannot leave breadcrumbs to the prisons of our past. We have to move forward, onward, upward, bravely through our fears.

Discovering a whole world ready to accept you exactly as you want to be is liberating. It’s also alienating, leaving you gasping for more. Alas, festival-goers are a fractured bunch, nomadic, each on their own journey.

You’re ALL In My Squad

Lightning In A Bottle 2015 Conner Coughenour   50

So this is an invitation to praise and honor the neon hair, the anthropomorphic, the geek, the well-dressed dandy, and the guy in jeans and an awesome metal band t-shirt.

Let’s roll back the flaps of our Eazy-Ups, tear up the VIP Guest List, power up the OPEN sign and welcome in the strangers, wandering through the desert on their search for something more inclusive and meaningful in their own lives.

Here’s to the tattooed crusty punk, dog in tow. Here’s to the mohawk and the dreadlocks, the counterculture and the mainstream, the beatniks, the permaculture masters, the tech mavens and the guy who busts out, I swear, the best dance move you have ever seen and you’re not sure if anyone else even saw it.

Here’s to the minimalists and the pack rats, the crew that’s been with you for 15 years and the new friends that you feel like you’ve known your entire life. Here’s to inclusion and love, an embrace of the wacky and a resounding “YES” to the uncomfortable and challenging.

Here’s to David Bowie, gender-bender to Young American. Here’s to Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show, dressed in drag, floating in a pool, whispering to us, “don’t dream it, be it.”

And while we embrace and love the Rainbow and the Unicorn, we grapple with the darkness of these old paradigm beliefs. We look into our dark histories, as a nation and as individuals. We feel shame and guilt. Comedian Louis C.K. wonders, while reading Tom Sawyer to his kids, “How do you cope with sh*t in your past that’s bad? How do you feel like a good country when you’ve done sh*tty things as an entire nation? How do you take your past and still feel good?”

We look in the mirror and we see the whole picture. We see that we have choices laid out in front of us, to continue to live and act within the norm, to be just the person we’re expected to be, or to become the person we know we’re capable of becoming.

We are finally emerging from that post-festival cleanse. We look fabulous and we smell fantastic. We feel close and connected, even if we’re not in the same room. And when we look in the mirror, we see in our own reflection the colors and madness of all of our fellow Freaky Weirdos.

I’m a mass shooter

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photographer

I’m a mass shooter
Hands clasped around an automatic trigger
Crosshairs pointed down long barrels at
Shimmering dreams and setting suns

I’m a weapon of mass deconstruction
Analyzing and theorizing how to justify
The end of civility and to usher in
A new C(K)ali fate

Weapon drawn, I’m strapped for days, sporting
Flashbang Memory
LP-E12 Battery
Shoulder Rig and Go Pros
Canons at the ready
24 Frames Per Second

I’m a pixel warrior
Waging my wager with the
Cocreators

Climbing behind my single lens reflex
I wear my media badge of honor and fight against
The lonesomeness we feel when we walk outside in the morning and no one says our name or wonders where we’ve been holed up for days crying tears of solitude as we grab real weapons and turn them on those who could have saved us with just a little kindness

I point my camera at you to tell you that you are loved
and you are beautiful
and your story is worth telling
and your heart is worth hearing

I am a mass shooter
And my weapon is glass and lasers
Story telling at the speed of light and
Protecting that which can never be destroyed

I clutch my camera closely and inscribe
“This Machine Kills Fascists”

The Do Lab: A Mainline Between the Mainstream and the Underground

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Lightning In a Bottle 2015 finds The Do LaB staring in the mirror, feeling the pulse of everything its crew has built up to this point. Its finally settling into a venue. It had its biggest year yet at Coachella. There’s another strong line-up set to perform. Seems like the perfect storm, no? Will it succeed in educating and inspiring a huge swath of new fest-going folks to wake up and try something different in their lives? Come May 21, we’ll know for sure.

One note, a caveat, on my recent published piece over at Fest300… I’d like to offer the unedited ending, which I think preserves a different cadence from the final version that was posted:

A Toast to The Wild

So, as you prepare, or pack, or consider buying a ticket, I offer a toast to Lightning in a Bottle 2015:

A toast to your wild side, strange and unfettered by expectation or necessity. May you nurture your inner animal and your outer human.

A toast to your dichotomy, a daily contradiction filled with meditation and debauchery. To a nightly insurrection of synchronicity and magic!

May your mindset be malleable, your dance moves infallible. To jokes that are laughable, to looking your most and least photographable!

I wish you safe journeys as you try on new ideas, new clothes, and new identities. Though Transformation is quite a tall order, may you be transformed just by having made the effort, even in the smallest of ways. Woogie down.

Read the rest of the article on Fest300 (link).

Way Beyond the Lens: 7 Trends to Help Festival Media Last for 7 Generations

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Originally posted on the Lucidity Festival blog…

You’ve seen the images. You know which ones I’m talking about. The Festie Look. The wide-eyed, glitter-adorned, silly-grinned portraiture that makes your heart burst out of your chest. The surreal, other dimensional art installations with strange humans illuminated by glowing LEDs. An incredible acroyoga pose, a Goddess Moment®, a cuddle puddle, or a deep emotional release in a workshop or on a dance floor.

For many of us, it was these pictures or videos that first drew us in. We felt a resonance in those expressions, drawing us deeper within ourselves and exposing a place of hurt and separation. There is an immediate desire to belong in that photograph, to be in that moment with a community that loves and understands us…

But why? Is it because the subject is so beautiful or the venue is so vibrant or the costuming is so exquisite? Partly, no doubt. But chances are, you’re viewing it through the lens of a tireless media professional, and the pixels in front of you are actually a copyrighted work and a representation of someone’s livelihood or goals. And it is their skill and talent, both technical and emotional, that have transported you to this place.

These individuals that comprise the Transformational Festival Media Landscape — photographers and videographers, writers and fine artists, installation and graphic designers, editors, web developers and radio hosts — are among the most hard-working and dedicated professionals at Lucidity and festivals like it. On-site Media never stops working. Leaving camp without a camera is torture as you’re always one moment away from missing the shot of a lifetime. Writers are constantly crunching storylines, tracking trends and stepping back into the role of the observer to communicate about experiences larger than themselves.

Though many of us “live the life,” traveling from festival-to-festival and getting some free tickets and meals, it’s not as easy as it looks. We buy (often on credit), and maintain expensive gear, running entire businesses from the trunks of our cars. We put tens of thousands of miles on said cars. And we spend dozens, sometimes hundreds of hours processing and developing our projects long after the festivals have pulled down their stages and left only the memory of footprints in the dust. Is it rewarding? Usually. But there’s one type of situation that can happen where all of our work, these labors of love, loses its passion. That’s when someone treats us like less than professionals.

1. Licensing to Ill: Fight For Your Copyrights

We need to be more explicit in our conversations about rights and licensing. We need to put it out there on the table and figure out how to release our creative endeavours in a way that is in alignment with our own personal values as an artist and within the greater cultural shift that we feel today.

Here at Lucidity, we bill ourselves an open source festival and I would love to see media professionals step up to help create a truly open source media repository of Festival Culture for future generations by utilizing a Creative Commons license that works for you.

CreativeCommons

This year, we will continue to request media collaborators to release their work to us under the  Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 License (Full Terms). This is an update from 3.0 in 2014. Our agreement explicitly states that:

Creative Commons allows you to “retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work.” These terms are for the purpose of enlivening and promoting conscious energy events developed by Lucidity Festival LLC or for like-minded events with which Lucidity Festival LLC is contracted to support.

Personally, I release all of my uncontracted photography under a Creative Commons license, though I retain copyright on my writing. I’m not saying this is right for everyone, but I’d love for this conversation to break open in a big way and hear media professionals make clear statements and agreements in their postings and accounts. Someone who’s doing a great job of that is Chuck of The Adventures of Chuck Manley.

2. Credit, Where Credit’s Due.

Cartographer at Firefly by Wesley Wolfbear Pinkham, released under Creative Commons 4.0 BY-SA

Cartographer by Wesley Wolfbear Pinkham, released under Creative Commons 4.0 BY-SA

So, what can you do to show that you appreciate these dedicated archivists of our blooming culture? Credit them. Crediting and Licensing go hand-in-hand. Lucidity is actively collecting preferred bylines from our media staff and will always try to over-credit when possible.

Though the status of copyright is murky in the digital age, where photos get passed around Tumblr like the last cup at the campsite, the act of linking to the content creator is a major statement of trust, solidarity and appreciation. As Vice said in their recent article (This Is What We’re Talking About When We Talk About Crediting Photographers), removing our names from our work not only denies us our creative power, but it strips us of our opportunity to gain future work, fans, and the recognition required to build a career in festival journalism.

  • Those little bylines that you see around an image? Preserve them if you reshare them.
  • Watermarks? Those aren’t for cropping.
  • Video descriptions should remain in-tact.
  • Re-posting someone’s words without putting them in context and linking to the original article? Stealing.

Lucidity doesn’t always get it right, (Thanks for your understanding, David and L’Unkle’s Boink!), but we’re trying. Part of the challenge is how we manage metadata and image archives (it’s a lot of files). There are so many festivals and events and promoters and artists who are just waltzing all over the copyrights of photographers! Everyone, media professionals or festival attendees should be calling out uncredited photos and copyright rip-offs wherever they pop up. Let’s let it become a meme. Maybe the Gaye family will have brought that back to the mainstream.

3. Higher Expectations, Better Pay, Better Results

Photographers are one of a select group of professionals where people expect them to just work “for exposure.” Imagine inviting a plumber over to fix your pipes and to tell him that instead of paying him, you’ll let him into your house and tell all your friends how awesome he is.

With so many cameras out there, whether built into cellphones or with an interchangeable lens at the end, the value of an image or a video has diminished over time. We’re inundated with content and the festival media community has not helped to quiet the noise around the signal.

Mea culpa. I’m guilty of cutting corners when I’m on an unpaid assignment, spending less time in post, uploading too many 3-star photos because I don’t have the energy to wean them down. I’m resolving to try harder this year to share my best work, to work to make every picture count. But, time is money, and as much as I love pouring over my pixelated memories and choosing the perfect expression out of 20 almost-identical shots, I still have to move on to the next paying project.

4. Stop. Listen and Collaborate.

So how will we start improving in this department? Well, having a conversation about it is the first step. Building a guild that represents our interests, or a union that supports our common goals, could be another step. Here, in this space and in others, Lucidity Festival welcomes the hard questions, addresses calls for transparency and stands for the goals and the needs of the collective.

We should celebrate and encourage entrepreneurship in the media sphere. For those of us that want to spend a major portion of the year in the festival scene, we must figure out ways to diversify our income streams, to reach out into new audiences and create a brand that is unique to our personal vision.

Love and Light with EVeryMan at Calling in the South: Lucidity Pre-Party in Los Angeles. Photo by Harmonic Light.

Love and Light with EVeryman at Calling in the South: Lucidity Pre-Party in Los Angeles. Photo by Harmonic Light.

Harmonic Light, for example, has been creating Long Exposure Portraits for festival goers over the past 4 years. His art is a conversation between photographer and subject. Getting your photo taken costs nothing, and if you’re willing to make the creation your FB profile picture and credit his site, he delivers a high resolution copy for personal use free of charge. Reid is enthusiastic about the collaborative experience, “I want people to enjoy the experience, to be authentically excited to make some art.”

We should figure out appropriate sponsorships within the media sphere. I’d be happy to tattoo T&A Leather’s logo to the back of my leg! I’d be elated to mention that this photo album is brought to you by the Lovin Foods from Lydia’s Lovin Foods, serving delicious meals to you, no matter your gender, creed or color of your activated chakra!

In sum, we need to professionalize and tighten up our individual and collective business plans. We need to hold ourselves to the highest standards of editing. And we need to work together to share resources and knowledge to collectively raise the entire body of work.

5. How Can Media Stay Independent When They’re Dependent on Comp Tickets?

The fact that media outlets acquire tickets for their writers and photographers in lieu of paying them for work is a serious issue on many levels. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, I wonder: how independent and critical can we expect outlets to be if they are dependent on playing nice so that they can get tickets to future festivals?

As it stands, there are very few media organizations in our scene that support writers or photographers with anything beyond tickets. I know from talking to my peers that this is something we’re all working towards. From my multi-hour talks with Saphir Lewis at Festival Fire, to diving into business challenges with the guys at LostinSound, to the folks at Fest300 offering some paid opportunities for writers and photographers, it’s something everyone is trying to figure out.

There are two possible business models that currently exist, and both are important to long-term success for a media channel: advertising and subscriptions. Few websites offer the level of content worthy of subscriptions, but it seems to work at sites such as Elephant Journal or Brain Pickings.

Part of the problem for advertising is that there are too many channels for what is, all in all, still a niche market. It’s hard to make the case to a potential advertiser that your channel is worthy of them plopping down $500 or $1000 bucks, when it’s just one of so many places vying for attention. If we can’t all pick ONE CHANNEL and put all of our genius into it, then we need to create an advertiser network and collaborate to distribute advertising across multiple streams and communalize revenue based on transparent analytics. Anyone want to take a stab at that? 

6. DIG DEEP. Let’s Hear About the Storylines That MATTER

I can say, emphatically, that Lucidity Festival appreciates and engages with well thought out articles that really dig deep into the scene as a whole, or highlight challenges at singular festivals, as long as they aren’t being written as clickbait/knee jerk reactions/vitriol. Look through the Lucidity blog and you’ll see dozens of articles that do just that.

Let’s stop with the ongoing fluff, the generic reviews with copy and pasted lineups, the video montages of beautiful people in bindis. Let’s hear some actual recorded words from the amazing conversations happening at festivals. Let’s see full length workshops, stories of pain and healing…REAL, tangible touchpoints that we can, 40 years from now, go back to and show the world from where this paradigm shift came! “See! All these amazing things we have in the world in the near future? They were happening at these festivals!”

And I’m calling on the many media outlets that focus on our scene to start writing critically, using the logical mind to identify opportunities for growth, potential pitfalls that could break our momentum and call for honesty, integrity and transparency from festival producers. Let’s use our words and reaffirm the value of saying something worth putting our name next to. If we depend on sharing our emotions with Instagram and Vine, we’re losing the opportunity to break through stigmas and stereotypes by creating mythology around our own real experiences.

It will pay off with positive controversy, self-reflection and awareness about who we are as a culture. I remember when, two years ago, concerns about Lucidity’s usage of Totems and Tribal Identity resulted in a long, difficult and ultimately very compelling conversation that has guided our festival into very meaningful relationships.

7. Consent Isn’t Sexy, It’s Mandatory

Lucidity Festival walks the line between public and private space. It’s on County property, but it’s a contracted event. You can legally take pictures of people in public (know your rights), but Lucidity, as a private contract, withholds the right to limit certain First Amendment behaviors to uphold sacred space, to help our community feel safe to express their deeper self. Here is a further clarification from our Media FAQ that outlines all of these goals and priorities and expectations.

If I’m ever unsure, I ask, “Is It Okay If I Take a Picture Of You?” This is a GREAT question to ask! Consent is numero uno at Lucidity Festival. We give our Media relatively free reign across the festival experience to capture unique and meaningful moments from all of the different environments.

  1. ASK FIRST is a cardinal rule at Lucidity!
  2. If you’re asking yourself whether it’s okay to capture this moment, it sounds like you may have stumbled into a moment where you need to ASK FOR CONSENT. Sometimes, solid eye contact is more than enough. You have your camera pointed from your eye but pull away from the shutter to make sure they see you and acknowledge what you’re doing.
  3. Most scheduled events, workshops, parades, etc. are understood to be a very public experience. But consider the careful line between archivist/artist and creeper. Think about why you would possibly need to capture intimate workshops, whether emotional or sexual, yoga classes, attendees in states of undress or physical contact, or pictures of children without their parents’ explicit consent. This conversation is as much for your safety and professional identity as it is for the privacy of our guests.
  4. If you’re not sure, ASK. And if you feel like you may have made the wrong decision, apologize and delete it.

We understand the desire to capture candid pictures, but consider the consequences of invading the privacy of someone’s very personal moments. Is there another way to get this shot with permission? We ask our media to be an active voice in their art, to not just be a floating camera with no one controlling the shutter. Taking that extra moment to check your surroundings and agreements is a gateway to even more magical pictures. It’s also an opportunity for you to make a deeper connection with your subjects, to offer slight corrections that might improve your shot, to get a little bit more context for your captions or storytelling.

If any participant asks you to stop filming, you must stop immediately. If you continue to photograph or film, you face the possibility of being escorted from the event.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for going on this long journey with me about a very small but important part of our community. This is your alternative to “The Mainstream Media,” and I feel like it’s important to understand that we’re all deep in thought about these and many more challenging issues. As Peace Journalists, we have an important role in reshaping and offering alternative story lines to the perceived constant, unbreakable cycle of war and hunger.

I know that I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many passionate, talented, well-spoken and careful artists and journalists. The culture of sharing amongst those of us behind the lenses and behind the words is the embodiment of what our scene is trying to do for the world at large. In 40 years, when the world looks around at all of these important ideas that we’re initializing at Lucidity and festivals like it, they won’t know from where they came. If we do our job and we do it well, in Seven Generations, the story will be crystal clear about what we did in 2015 to preserve knowledge and carry on hope and activism for the future of this planet.

Wesley Wolfbear Pinkham is the Media Wrangler for Lucidity Festival. He spent the last two seasons covering 25 festivals over 30,000 miles with The Bloom Series and Lost in Sound. Photo by Louis Fisher at Firefly Gathering near Flagstaff, Arizona.