Let's start with… well, why in God's name was I in Durham?!
I contacted Jacob, one of the directors, hoping to snag some stage time at the event, but I was too late - the programming was alreadyplanned out. So I was offered a production volunteer position instead. I saved the e-mail for later, forgot about it, and by the time I got back to Jacob, the only positions that remained were with the "recycling crew" (euphemism for the waste management team which also handled trash and compost).
Being a freegan myself - and therefore especially concerned about waste - I figured I was a shoe-in. I gladly accepted the position which would allow me to attend the entire event for free - food and camping accommodations included!
So I left my apartment on Wednesday morning, one week ago today, around 6a. I knew I'd have to hurry to get myself on the 6:40 bus to DC, departing one long block from 8th ave Penn Station.
Our departure and arrival were right on schedule and I had a two hour layover in DC. I found a nice spot in the shade to take a nap and practice guitar.
I left my tent and sleeping bag at my campsite and meandered around the grounds in the pitch blackness of night, running into a group of festival "rangers" sitting around a table, toasting and planning for the upcoming weekend. I sat with my guitar and played a couple dozen songs quietly for those sitting and talking around. After everyone turned in I headed back to my campsite to set up my tent in the dark and fall quickly to sleep.
I couldn't possibly cover in detail the wonderful experience of the following three days. Sufficed to say, they were filled with amazing conversations and panel discussions (featuring Shane Claiborne, Tony & Peggy Campolo, Richard Rohr, Andrew Marin), musical performances (including Derek Webb, David Bazan, and the Psalters), plenty of free food, new friends, and quite a bit of work.
I volunteered 16 hours throughout the fest shouldering large compost bins and heavy black bags of trash and recycling into the bed of a bright blue pick up truck and emptying them at the farm's dump site. It wasn't very glamorous, but I did make friends with my fellow trash crew and we even devised a secret handshake!
Once the event ended on Sunday early afternoon, I took to the dirty work again, returning what was left of the waste and receptacles to the dump site. This went on till 6p. Then all the remaining volunteers shared a large meal (complete with beer and wine) and fellowship till 9:30, when we reconvened around an enormous bonfire. I brought my guitar and sang another dozen songs at the top of my lungs, including a requested and terribly botched Smells Like Teen Spirit.
I spent most of Monday helping to tear down the festival with a rag-tag group of volunteers and little direction from the higher-ups. Everyone was positively pooped! I caught a late afternoon ride to Chapel Hill, NC with one of my fellow volunteers who allowed me to shower and use the internet at her home.
I woke up late today and barely made it to the bus on time. I'm now well on my way home with plans to busk in DC tonight and catch a midnight bus back to NYC to round off this little adventure. It has been amazing and I owe it to all my new friends from Wild Goose and Burlington! Thanks for the memories =)
For a freegan critique of Wild Goose, click here..