Nestled along the Connecticut shoreline, surrounded by historic Bridgeport, lies 325 acres of lush stretches of lawn, towering trees, beautiful beaches and spectacular views of Long Island Sound. Not only is Seaside Park a summer destination for beachgoers, it is also home to Gathering of the Vibes.
In its twentieth year, Gathering of the Vibes will return to Seaside Park this summer (July 30-August 2) and celebrate this momentous year with a lineup that includes the likes of Wilco, The String Cheese Incident, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Weezer, Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, and many many others.
While the festival boasts a stellar lineup year after year, the true headliner of the weekend is Seaside Park. There are not many festivals where your campsite is situated in a beautiful park along a waterfront. While the park makes for an incredible backdrop, festival attendees also must take extra care of the environment around them.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), trash and litter along our coasts and in our waterways can be harmful to our health, the environment, and the economy. Most marine debris that ends up in the water is man-made and begins its journey on land; this is trash that is not recycled or properly thrown away on land. For example, litter left behind by festival goers at Gathering of the Vibes could be picked up by the wind or washed out by rain and end up in the ocean. Any debris that finds its way into coastal waters not only affects the appearance of the surrounding waters, but also has potential to harm many kinds of animals and wreak havoc on the ecosystem.
As the festival has grown over the years, so has the consciousness of festival sustainability and the local marine ecosystem. We chatted with Harry Moran, Sustainability Director for Gathering of the Vibes, to talk about Vibes’ green initiative, Green Vibes, the festival’s annual beach cleanup, and tips for helping keep the festival eco-friendly.
“With my passion for sustainability, I’ve always been thinking about ways to minimize our onsite footprint and harness the power of our community for positive change,” said Moran as he talked about the creation of Green Vibes. “The event has always had a very real commitment to this but with the ongoing support of Ken Hays [Founder of Gathering of the Vibes], I was able to put together a dedicated Sustainability and Outreach program to coordinate and expand all of the different components.”
The goals of Green Vibes are simple: reduce negative human impact on the ecosystems and encourage responsible stewardship toward the land, air, sea, and renewable energy resources. Green Vibes looks to harness the power of our musical community and the Vibes family and transform the world by going beyond “leaving nothing but footprints.”
Each year, with the help of the Green Vibes program Vibes makes further strides towards reducing their eco-footprint at Seaside Park.
“After every year, I do a recap to see what’s working, what can be improved and identify new ideas for the following year,” Moran stated. “We’ve been at this a long time now but there’s always room to improve. One of our successful additions to our awareness and outreach work is the brief talks related to sustainability between bands on the Green Vibes Stage. We’ve had major experts come in and share ideas in a really loose and fun setting which really engages and energizes the crowd.”
Other notable successes of the green program include:
- 22,000 pounds of recycling was gathered and kept out of landfills.
- 12,516 lbs of non-perishable food,hygiene goods, and clothing was donated to local food banks, including vendor donations of unused food to local food banks and soup kitchens.
- The Green Vibes Carbon Cutters, Green Vibes’ carbon reduction team, is now almost 900 members strong and has prevented close to 2 tons of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.
- Food and beverage vendors used compostable products.
- Environmental & social action awareness opportunities for attendees through Green Vibes Stage workshops.
- Activation of a solar-powered cell phone charging station.
While 2014 was an extremely successful year, Green Vibes is already looking towards 2015 and hopes to have the cleanest and greenest Vibest yet. The program will continue to focus on reducing the festival’s carbon footprint and will be expanding the recycling program. For the sixth year in a row, Green Vibes will partner with the Terrapin Foundation to host an annual beach clean up day a couple of weeks prior to the festival. Last year, volunteers cleaned up a local beach area, loading dozens of garbage bags with glass, plastic bags, aluminum cans, barbed wire, large pieces of wood and metal and many other objects.
The Green Vibes program and strides like the beach clean up help make sure Seaside Park remains in pristine condition; keeping neighboring beaches and the environment of Seaside Park safe and clean is one of the most important parts of the festival and the Terrapin Foundation’s mission.
If festival goers cannot make the beach cleanup, they can still play a positive role by being consciously aware of items that are brought into the festival and personal trash that is created during the the four day weekend.
“Whenever possible, bring food from local farmer’s markets or your own gardens. Repackage any food into reusable containers,” Moran suggested. “Bring reusable cups, plates, etc. to minimize what goes into the waste stream. Our food vendors use eco-friendly materials too so that’s another great option.
Green Vibes offers some great pre-festival packing tips to help lighten the environmental impact:
- Carpool: the less stuff you stack, the more people you can pack!
- Bring reusable water bottles
- Avoid bringing food that spoils easily and/or is individually wrapped
- Think reusable before you buy disposable
- Bring bags for garbage and recycling
- Avoid styrofoam coolers
- If you have to buy new, recycle the box before you arrive on-site
- Avoid bringing unnecessary items that become pesky waste: silly string, confetti, glow sticks, packing peanuts, etc.
While at the festival, campers should make sure their campsite belongings are secured to reduce wind blown trash and litter. Most importantly, at the close of the festival, pack up everything you brought with you and leave the area as nice or better than you found it.
Every attendee of Gathering of the Vibes has an opportunity, and even a responsibility, to demonstrate leadership in this area. Not only is taking care of the environment an important topic, it is also vital to be consciously sustainable at Vibes to maintain the thriving ecosystem that is Seaside Park.
It all started when a much younger Jackie dove into her parents’ record collection, grabbed that trippy Magical Mystery Tour album, and played “Strawberry Fields” over and over again until it was engrained into her soul. She grew up on the dreams and stories of Simon and Garfunkel, “Bleeker Street” being one of her favorites, the seduction of The Doors, Van Morrison, because “Brown Eyed Girl” is definitely her song, and the likes of Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Jimi Hendrix…you get the picture. It may not show on the outside, but Jackie has a hippie heart, and that reflects in her musical tastes today. While some of her favorites may or may not be jam bands, her taste in music feeds into many genres. From alternative, Brit, and indie rock - OK, maybe all rock - to pop, to rap, to electronic, she loves it all. As a northerner, she thought she would never understand country until she found herself on a Georgia farm in cowboy boots watching Luke Bryan shake it for her- yeah, she got that. She is a chronic wanderluster, she doesn't believe in guilty pleasures, enjoys a great Moscow Mule, and is an absolute music festival fanatic- you’ll find her wherever the music takes her.