Lightning in a Bottle: A Festival Leader for Sustainabiilty


Continuing our pre-coverage of Lightning in a Bottle, today we’re spreading the word about LiB’s sustainability efforts that have made it a leader in transforming the festival culture in such a way that now festivals all over are applying and implementing the sustainability practices LiB has trail-blazed years ago. The biggest reason why this is so important is because humanity is currently at the crossroads of dystopia if it doesn’t re-calibrate its consumption. Currently, humanity is using upwards of 1.5 planets’ worth of resources–the very definition of being unsustainable.

This is why we are happy to promote Lightning in a Bottle and the strides it’s making towards bringing society back to equilibrium by promoting it through festival culture. We got to speak with Shena Jade Jensen, the sustainability director of LiB and got to find out what the foundation and philosophy driving the sustainability efforts of the festival. Here’s what we learned…

As Lightning in a Bottle’s sustainability director, what do you do to make the festival more than just a festival?

I think what sets LIB apart from other festivals is that we aim to inspire and create change in peoples’ lives. We never think of LiB as a party, but as a community platform for cross-pollination of ideas, meeting a new spark of creativity, or becoming passionate about what we create in the world as humans.

Lightning in a Bottle has received A Greener Festival awards 4 years in a row now. Was the drive towards promoting sustainable living part of the LiB philosophy from Day 1 or was it something that emerged down the road?

LiB is really special because from Day 1 it was meant to be something different, something that would inspire and teach people how to live in more harmony with and appreciation of the earth. I think that’s why the festival really stands apart in terms of its environmental initiatives, because sustainability is at the core, it’s not an add-on like other festivals that are trying to green themselves. Everything produced for LiB is seen through the sustainability lens, from the how we operate to the materials.

What are some of the ways LiB is being an example of how we can live sustainably?

LiB focuses on the environment in five categories: materials, energy, transportation, waste, and water and we have many initiatives in all of these categories. For example, we inspire people by building stages and art creatively with reused, rapidly renewable, or upcycled materials. But sustainability is not just about the environment. We also bring community gathering through ceremony, hands on workshops for earth based skill building, talks on gardening and natural medicines, and workshops for inspiring creativity in kids. All these things are vital for a sustainable way of living in partnership with one another and the earth.

Given sustainability is such an important part of our very survival, as well as our thrival, do you feel that enough is being done by humanity at large towards a truly sustainable way of living?

I think the path of human existence itself is one of discovering how exactly we can live sustainably. It is clear that our current way of living and lifestyles are not sustainable in the long run, as not only are there not enough resources to sustain our rate of use, but we are negatively transforming the make up of the earth as we do so. But a sustainable way of living is not just about our relationship with the earth, it also involves learning how to relate to one another in a mutually feeding way, which seems to be a complex puzzle we are far from understanding.

So-called “transformational festivals” have become increasingly popular in the past decade. Do you think green initiatives like those LiB has are acting as catalysts for change in the everyday lives of people who attend?

Definitely. The spread of transformational festivals shows that consciousness is contagious. And once we become conscious in one area, like our awareness of the environment, we yearn to become more conscious in more ways such as health, body, and relationships.

Since an elemental part of this new wave of conscious festivals is co-creation, what are some of the ways that people that come to LiB can help the festival live out and express its philosophy?

LiB is created in a way that invites co-creation. In terms of the environment, attendees are requested to become involved by enrolling in its green philosophies by reusing water containers, reducing waste, carpooling, leaving a small footprint, and leaving the place “better than you found it”. In other areas we invite co-creation through storytelling and ceremony around the Village fire, giving a workshop in the Temple of the Learning Kitchen, becoming a Volunteer for the festival, donating a painting through Lightning in a Paintcan, or other ways. Many of the festival’s artists, musicians, and speakers were once attendees that were inspired at LiB and came back to offer their gifts.

Are you partnering with any other organizations or festivals to create an even greater impact with sustainability initiatives and greater conscious living?

Informally. Many people who run the sustainability at other festivals have been people who volunteered or worked for our Green Team over the years.

Are there any future ideas that we will be seeing at LiB on the green side of things & where could people learn more about all the things LiB is doing to promote a sustainable future for humanity?

The best way to learn is to attend LiB! Our Temple, Village, and Learning Kitchen are packed full of interactive workshops about how to live sustainably. These workshops aren’t just about the environment, but are also about eating healthier, living in community, learning earth-based skills, and being in dialogue with one another. Some of these things you can read facts about in books or online, but it is completely different to show up and be in conversation with one another and live by these principles for a weekend, so that we are more likely to go home changed and ready to integrate these changes into our daily lives.

For more of our Lightning in a Bottle pre-coverage, take a look here and here. To learn more about LiB’s sustainability efforts, take a look here.

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