Next week, the Live Oak Campground in the hills above Santa Barbara will open its gates to the fourth annual Lucidity Festival. Started in 2012 as an open-source transformational music and arts celebration, Lucidity has always embraced its attendees as part of its creative process, but this year, that communal collaboration is extending even further. Thanks to the stronghold of S.B. movers and shakers at its core, 2015’s Lucidity is aiming not only to invite the city in but also to reach out into the community at large, and the impact it could have is inspiring, to say the least.
If you’ve never attended a music festival, there are some things to keep in mind. For one, festivalgoers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and intentions. Secondly, no two festivals are created equal. Some focus on the music, others on art making, and still others on the party. Some are enormous undertakings that span miles and welcome tens of thousands. Others pride themselves on small-scale, intimate experiences. Yet at the core of all (or most) of these events is a singular thought — namely, the magic that happens when you get a group of like-minded people together for an intense, inspired, and ephemeral moment in time.
As for Lucidity, it falls firmly within the transformational circle of the arts festival Venn diagram. It’s a small- to medium-sized event (last year’s installment brought upward of 3,500 visitors) that features live music and art installation villages, as well as workshops, classes, and spiritual healing. It’s family-friendly, and there is an environmental bent to the whole thing; global healing and social responsibility are just some of the festival’s “core values.”
“It’s an experiment in temporary community,” says Lucidity’s head of marketing, James Barnard. “It explores many different realms of consciousness and artistic expression, and it allows many groups of people to come into a common place. It’s a big melting pot of celebration.”
This year, Lucidity hits a special milestone. The festival was founded with a six-year story arc in mind; years one, two, and three — titled Awake in Your Dreams, The Totems’ Return, and Universe, respectively — were designed to inspire personal reflection, growth, and transformation. According to festival cofounder Jonah Haas, this year’s installment, Kindred Quest, begins the process of looking outward.
“The fourth year in the story is all about collective transformation,” says Haas, “so it’s really timely that we’re starting to integrate community action initiatives, where we’re coming together and getting our hands dirty and leaving a legacy for those who come after us.”
Stewards of the Land
Story arcs aside, getting the Kindred Quest off the ground has not been an easy feat. The ongoing and still-growing California drought has impacted the Live Oak Campground as much as any semirural space in Santa Barbara County. “The soil and the trees and everything there have been affected by the drought,” says Barnard, “so when you have large amounts of people on the land, you have to assess how healthy that is on the space.”
As such, this year’s festival will be admitting fewer people, employing fewer volunteers, and scaling back the number of cars allowed on-site in an attempt to protect the oak’s fragile root systems. “Last year, we had 1,100 cars on-site, and this year, we’ll have less than 400,” says Lucidity Food and Sustainability Director Alison Hensley.
Rather than looking at this as a setback, though, festival organizers are using the situation as a springboard for action. This year, permaculture, sustainability, and ecology are all playing increasingly larger roles in Lucidity’s game plan, which includes working toward eliminating all single-use service ware and instituting composting toilets, both of which Hensley projects will be possible by 2016.
“It’s not just about the oak trees or the population counts,” she says. “Festivals of this size are inherently unsustainable, and this is a great practice for how we can live together as a community.”
In addition, organizers will hosting for a three-day pre-festival permaculture design intensive before the festival, which will focus on implementing technologies and systems and understanding soils, waters, and gardening strategies that are sustainable and environmentally responsible. Permaculture experts Art Ludwig, Loren Luyendyk, and Ray Cirino are just some of the instructors who have signed on to take part.
Most importantly, though, 2015 marks the first year that the festival is moving outside of its Live Oak home and attempting to inspire change in the greater Santa Barbara community. Following the three-day permaculture course at Live Oak, Lucidity and its headliner, Oakland-based electronic artist The Polish Ambassador, will head downtown for a Community Action Day on April 9 at the Alpha Resource Center. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m., non-festivalgoers can get a taste of Lucidity’s grand plan, as well as enjoy food and live music.
“People can get their hands in the dirt and on the ground and work on projects based on what is needed for that site,” Hensley explains. “Larry Saltzman manages the grounds of the center, so he has us set up with a number of fruit-tree plantings and heirloom rose bushes. We’re going to be working the soil and making seed balls and feeding it, and we’ll be teaching about drought-tolerant regenerative landscaping.”
They’re small steps that Lucidity’s creators are using to work toward making a major shift in the way we think. And that’s something we all should be down to celebrate.
The 2015 Lucidity Festival takes place Thursday-Sunday, April 9-12, at Live Oak Campground. For more on the festival and its community events, visit lucidityfestival.com.