Health and Harmony Music and Arts Festival
The largest annual New Age event in Northern California, organized by Deborah Guisti and staged at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, attracts an average of 28,000 visitors per day. Jane Love, the events coordinator at Copperfield's Books in Sebastopol, where I will be singing and telling stories on Tuesday, June 20, agreed to distribute announcements for my event from their booth at the fair, as well as provide a table at which I would sign books at their booth from noon to 3 PM on Sunday, June 11.
Located in the shady portico of the Mexican Village section of the fairgrounds, Copperfield's booth provided an amicable setting for meeting new and old readers of my book. Hal Bennett, author of The Well Body Book, which was published by The Bookworks one year after Living On The Earth, became a new friend I hope to see again when I visit Ukiah. He and his wife, Susan Sparrow, own a small publishing company, Tenacity Press, and both write and counsel writers.
I asked those who looked at my book whether they had ever seen this book before. One gentleman, who introduced himself as Steve, said "It changed my life. Lots of us were out in the woods living on the land in those days, but this let us know that there were others out there doing the same thing."
Steve told me that one year ago he quit his forty hour per week job to renew his connection with his creative life, to play more music and see more new places. I said, "I can relate." I am detecting a renaissance of bohemia as a way of life among those of my peers who strayed into the Air-conditioned Nightmare.
The bookstore booth offered shady seating for a spectacle of five stilt dancers (here four carry another dancer above their heads, while a a fifth waves yellow streamers). Afterwards, the drum corps to which they danced marched by, followed by festively attired celebrants in choreographed procession.
After three o'clock, I wandered around the fairgrounds, overwhelmed by the sensory overload of color, sound, and sales pitch. I realized that this is a traditional ethnic cultural event with predictable foods, merchandise, music, costume, and political issues, only this particular culture is only thirty-five years old, and it references no particular race, religion or ethnicity. There was the obligatory drum circle...
...surrounded by dancers who made up the steps as they went along, as is the tradition in our culture.
Cultural traditions were passed down to the next generation:
The bohemian principal of compassion before profit was expressed at dozens of environmental and humanitarian booths throughout the festival. This project focusses upon news stories suppressed by the media because they challenge the financial interests of major corporations (who, of course, own the media and fund it through advertising.) I bought a book titled The WTO: Five Years of Reasons to Resist Corporate Globalization (1999, Seven Stories Press), by Lori Wallach and Michelle Sforza, with an introduction by Ralph Nader. I had previously met Katie, a student intern, when she visited me at the Copperfield's booth.
Nowhere was the principal of compassion before profit more passionately expressed than by Julia Butterfly Hill in her extemporaneous and poetic plea for environmental activism and responsibility in the minutia of our lives. She emitted the screams of thousand-year-old redwood trees falling before the Machine. She wailed the horror of towns covered by landslides of precious forest topsoil, and streams filled with mud so that the salmon died. She begged us to bring our own reusable containers for food and drink to public events. She renewed her commitment to protect and serve all that is sacred, the earth and all of her children, including her foes, and urged us to do the same. Her childhood travelling with her father's revival ministry served her well. She awakens the spirit of righteousness. We all stood to applaud her at the end.