Pickathon’s Cascadian Leanings
This year’s Pickathon at Pendarvis Farm in Oregon draws from a diverse set of musical tastes, Thee Oh Sees to THEESatisfaction, modern rock to roots and just about everything in between. It’s an exceptionally strong West Coast lineup, and current, uniquely slotting most of the bands in at two different times on two different days so you don’t have to make too many hard choices or curse the (lack of) time. I myself am perfectly happy to take that Saturday afternoon set from Thee Oh Sees, over missing them entirely in the Galaxy Barn late on Friday as I’m stuck having to do this year.
Aside from the musical setup, another notable difference is that instead of in the lead-up to the fest shining the biggest headliner’s ego, the latest blog entry on the official Pickathon site is titled “Big news on the no-single-use cup and dishware system at Pickathon.” With a background image of a dude piling his pickup full of empty cans they lede the article with “Over the past two years Pickathon has initiated all sorts of innovative measures with the big picture goal of eliminating 100% of the single use waste created onsite.” Their goal is bold, but it’s also so necessary as anyone who’s waded through cardboard fry-bowls and long-neck margarita tubes at the end of a long day can attest. It’s also a sort of leave-no-trace ethic that’s already rampant among Cascadians who’s appreciation for nature either brought them here, keeps them here, or both. Though I hate washing dishes, the native treehugger in me has me sold on the idea.
The notion of a mass-market music festival with any sort of larger ethic like this seems novel. The recent spate of festivals touting “green” credentials appears to have amounted to little more than sponsors with solar panels or drunk folks enticed with goodies to collect recyclables near the end of the night (progress of a sort I suppose). So far any plans to provide for some sort of framework for harmonious interaction on a group of thousands of people of all stripes seems bound to fail. And yet I have to wonder whether volunteer-run Pickathon’s effort is a stroke of genius, if personal conscientiousness about our food experience might spread other things, perhaps folks being more conscientious and responsible about the experience as a whole and so a collective ethic not found at your usual fest might coalesce.