The spirit of Monterey lives in greener events
EmptyThe 40th anniversary of the Monterey International Pop Festival is this week. It was the mother of all festivals (the Human Be-In in nearby San Francisco six months earlier would be the grandmother) and would punctuate both the Summer of Love and the amazing year of 1967.
Among the many things we learned that year were that life is short, but you could do eternally cool things in that short time; Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin's mainstream public existence would only be three years, Brian Jones' five and Otis Redding had just six months. The year also taught to us that by American Indian and Eastern philosophy, no matter how short an individual's life is, the planet continues to function for succeeding generations. And how well it functions depends on how much we screw it up.
Forty years later, we finally seem to be getting it.
Reverb, a nonprofit started by Adam Gardner and Lauren Sullivan, spends its time "greening" concert tours, following Bonnie Raitt's example. Willie Nelson's BioWillie biodiesel company will (we predict) influence virtually every tour to travel green within five years. MusicMatters introduced "carbon offsetting" -- planting trees and supporting alternative sustainable energy sources equal to your sins of emission.
The Vans Warped Tour is using solar-powered sound. Bonnaroo is giving prizes for recycling. The Hove Festival in Norway has pledged 100% carbon neutrality. Last week's Wakarusa Festival in Lawrence, Kan., included a sustainability symposium.
And on it goes.
It feels like a paradigm shift, folks -- one of the best ever, and there's no going back. Festivals are now putting into practice what was implicit in the spirit of Monterey.
And maybe we're starting to act like the responsible Human Be-Ins the Indians always hoped we become.
Little Steven, aka Steven Van Zandt, is a musician, actor and radio host who writes a weekly column for Billboard.