STARLIT WOODS & MUSIC AS MEDICINE AT PICKATHON

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

Two weekends ago, Loam spirituality columnist Lily Myers and I trekked to Pickathon in Happy Valley, OR. The sustainabality-minded music festival on Pendarvis Farm is an oasis in a PDX suburb rapidly falling prey to soulless strip malls and McMansions. So often, music festivals are littered with trash. At Pickathon, you can either bring your own container or buy bamboo plates to use at the many food vendors selling miso mushroom steamed buns and summer vegetable pizzas across the sprawling site (Lily and I chose to buy plates because you can return it to the wash station in exchange for a token the next time you want to eat. This means no need to carry your gear with you as you dance like wild to Ezra Furman AND no need to waste!) 

The festival isn't perfect—no institution is. You can provide the resources for reducing waste but still can't prevent someone from trashing the beer cans they brought from home on the ground. Getting people to feel invested in the environment that they are in takes much more than proper recycling bins. But to me, what's inspiring about Pickathon is the organizers' clear interest in showcasing environmental trends (fingers crossed that the coming years will see composting toilets in place of Port-a-Potties!) just as much as rocking musicians. Wandering the grounds in between sets this year, I checked out a Tiny Home trailer that extolled the virtues of small-scale sustainable living and learned about how a set crafted from reclaimed wood had been designed. Even the blissful walk from the hammocks hanging in the thick of the forest to the open field that fanned out from the Main Stage was an exercise in ecological awareness. At night, I slept in the starlit woods in my little tent, listening to crickets and the buzz of up-till-dawn revelers, and in the early mornings, when everyone was still sleepy and the sky was gold-kissed, I'd wander the perimeter of the festival foraging for blackberries. 

At Loam, Nicole and I deeply believe in the transformative power of music to inspire environmental change. As Nicole wrote in one of her first posts: "Music is a way of transcending distance, of fusing proximity. Sounds become associated with place, nostalgic ache, thrill for what is next." Music is medicine. It helps reminds us of what matters and gives us a soundtrack to empower us as we work hard to heal our fragile hearts and vital environment.