Aug 242008
Authors: Shayna Grajo

The grass is always greener, and these days, so too is the grassroots benefit concert.

The student and community concertgoers who minded their cigarette butts Friday and Saturday nights at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre could be seeing the “green” trend take over future concerts at the Poudre Canyon’s beloved venue.

For many, the Fire Mountain Music Festival marked the final summer music festival before the daunting rigmarole of a long semester. For the Mish, the two-day event marked an unprecedented presentation of environmental sustainability advocacy, featuring educational workshops, a biodiesel shuttle service to and from the festival camp grounds and disposal tents separating wastes, recyclables and compostables.

Hosted by Symbiotic Music Productions, a Northern Colorado arts and music fundraising organization, the festival’s focus also centered on charity fundraising, local businesses, artisans and therapeutic treatments.

“It’s a unique event in the fact that there’s so many facets to it,” said Sean MacAskill, a recent CSU graduate, who monitored the door at the event.

Beginning at 3 p.m. both days, the festival offered attendants various “zones,” highlighting artistic expression, environmental sustainability and relaxation.

Artisans provided hands-on participation in glass fusion, woodcarving and West African drumming. Companies such as Eco-Thrift and Green Logic demonstrated waste reduction methods, such as papermaking from recycled receipts. In the “relaxation zone,” the Fort Collins companies Vita Shack and Algiers circulated, respectively, fruit smoothies and hookah samples.

Represented businesses were locally sourced, and proceeds benefited the non-profit Conscious Alliance, an organization that acquires food donations and support for Native American reservations. Conscious Alliance collected weekend food donations at the festival for the Larimer County Food Bank. Lauren Edgerton, a volunteer for Conscious Alliance, said she has noticed the increasing push for environmental initiatives at other benefit festivals across the nation.

MacAskill said Colorado’s festivals, such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Mile High Music Festival, have followed suit.

“That’s going to be really important for all festivals to start doing it,” said Edgerton, regarding eco-friendly disposal and practices. “Festivals will need to start raising the bar, because people will notice if they’re not.”

Event planners aimed to similarly leave a “green footprint” on the Mish, said Joel Gustafson, the event coordinator and co-founder of Symbiotic Music Productions.

“Being an outdoor, pristine venue in one of our beloved canyons, [the Mish] lacks a lot of green standards you would expect a venue of this caliber would have,” said Gustafson.

“We want to come in and give them a good blueprint to follow.”

Sheri Cubin and Louie Leber, management staff members with over ten years of work experience at the Mish, said they welcomed the change to the concert environment. Classically, both have witnessed concertgoers throw cigarette butts to the ground and glass bottles into garbage bins. Staff members at the Mish have relied on community volunteers to drive recyclables, such as cardboard boxes and commingled recycling, to recycling centers outside the canyon. Currently, no trash service picks up recycling in the canyon, though the staff plans to incorporate more green resources at future events.

Neal Evans, keyboardist to the headlining New York funk band Soulive, who supplied healthy doses of driving clavinet throughout the set, said actions speak for themselves.

“We got to get to a point when we’re not just sitting around talking about it,” Evans said. “It just has to be ingrained in society as a way to live.”

Assistant News Editor Shayna Grajo can be reached at

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