ARISE Music And Arts Festival: Leaders In A Progressive Era

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Arise Music and Arts Festival is quickly becoming a destination festival, not only for Coloradans but on an international level. Throughout the weekend I met people who had traveled from across the country and even abroad to come out for the 3-day event. Since its inception seven years ago, the festival has continued to grow every year and 2019 marked the biggest turn out yet! Walking around the grounds, located at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, it felt as though we were all there for one big family reunion. There was a sweeping sense of community among everyone in attendance. Upon creation, Co-founders, Paul Bassis and Tierro Lee, were inspired to create something that would become so much more than just a music festival. They turned Arise into a movement, one that is a contribution between allegiant men and women. One aspect that stood out, which sets Arise apart from other festivals, is their dedication towards sustainable practices. Everything from the food trucks to a full-fledged carbon offset program made Arise a place you can leave feeling like you were a small part of saving the Earth and its beautiful landscapes.

Walking around, I noticed that each entrance had marked bins aimed at getting people to separate their recyclables and compostables from their trash. Peering into the bins, it was unmistakable that many people didn’t know the difference between the three options. In this day and age, education is the most important thing when it comes to saving the world’s resources. Despite people’s lack of attention to their disposed-of items, Arise hired ZeroHero Events to implement waste recovery in the aftermath of the festival. ZeroHero is a company based out of Fort Collins, Colorado that works to provide zero-waste services at events across the country. In an environment like a music festival, patrons bring almost anything they want and as they are leaving, so much gets tossed out or wasted. The ZeroHero team handles all of this discarded material with volunteers and staff. As they put it, “We sort waste, haul it around, pick it up off the ground, and coordinate the timely removal of material from the property to ensure no trace is left.”

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As of this year, their team estimates about a 60% diversion for the entire weekend. According to ZerHero, diversion is material sent anywhere other than a landfill, typically represented by a percentage of total material discarded. As I found out from one of their team representatives, Arise is less focused on the social media component of a zero-waste event but instead focused on actually leaving no trace. This is partially because Arise is utilizing a space that is not their own, but mostly because it’s the right thing to do. The property is part of Sunrise Ranch, a beautiful land near the mountains that is returned to use for feeding animals and growing crops after the festival; this is one reason why it is so important to treat it with the utmost respect. “We make sure their home is as they left it, and try to divert as much of that from the landfill as possible,'' a ZeroHero told us. 

Sunrise Ranch is an incredible space dedicated to maintaining one of the oldest permaculture gardens in the U.S.. They utilize five large greenhouses to grow plants and vegetables all year long. The farm also garners 100 percent grass-fed beef with their cows who are raised and graze on the property. The fact that Sunrise Ranch successfully practices holistic agriculture management, with animals and plants alike, it is no wonder they partner with Arise to try and spread their message to the thousands of people who attend the festival. Certain individuals associated with Sunrise Ranch put together a small farmers market each day of the festival to not just sell products but to encourage patrons to buy locally and spread their philosophy. With the help of the farmers market, as well as other unique shopping or craft booths, empowerment circulated the grounds of Sunrise Ranch. Everyone was building each other up to be the best version of themselves. 

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In an exclusive interview with Paul Bassis, he explained that right now we are nearing the verge of radical ideals and strong actions are becoming necessary; this is why he and his partners ensure that the festival centers around measures fueled by activism. The Arise team has been enacting a carbon offset program for the last few years, to play a part in diverting carbon from entering our atmosphere. They proudly donate a chunk from every ticket sold at the festival and donate it to the non-profit, Trees, Water, People. Doing their part to promote conservation, Trees, Water, People is an organization committed to reforestation and renewable energy. Most of their work involves helping communities throughout Latin America and preserving their local ecosystems. With the money donated from the festival, the organization will be able to plant trees in areas where they have been cut down. This will slowly begin to build back our forests, which is offsetting man made carbon emissions. The joint effort between the staff at Arise and the dedicated team at Trees, Water, People ensure economic opportunities for those that are involved, while simultaneously improving environmental conditions. 

“It is of the utmost importance that we stop contributing to the carbon input into our atmosphere, which is why Arise has been working with Trees, Water, People for the past few years to help offset carbon emissions. To be progressive, you have to be ahead of the curve which is also part of what it means to be a leader in this day and age.” -Paul Bassis

 
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There is no limit to the number of sustainable measures one company or individual has the potential to implement. That is why Paul Bassis and Tierro Lee look for every possible opportunity and use it not only to their advantage but to the advantage of all living things. One last partnership worth mentioning is Bloomin, a company based out of Boulder, Colorado. They started as a family business and grew into a multifaceted company that is now part of the Benefit Corporations community. B Corp companies are for-profit companies that have adopted a new type of company structure, to ultimately solve social and environmental problems. According to their bio, Bloomin is the original manufacturer of handmade plantable seed paper. Bloomin worked with Arise to create eco-friendly parking passes that were made from wildflower seeds. The passes could be planted, watered and can eventually grow into gorgeous wildflowers. A concept more industries should get behind, clearly. Society doesn’t have to abandon concepts like straws and single use plates, we just need to re-think some original ideas and implement new, innovative ways to all do our part so we can continue living on this amazing planet for a long, long time.

All aspects of Arise Music Festival made it a memorable one, the people, atmosphere, colorful outfits and decor, music, workshops, activities; the list goes on and on. The moment you drive away from that little oasis in the crevice of the mountains, you’re stuck mulling over all the best memories you had throughout the weekend and dizzy with excitement to be back the following year. The movement that has been created by all the people and organizations involved, is inspiring to be a part of. So much planning and hard work go into making sure that everyone has an incredible weekend, away from the tedious responsibilities of day-to-day life and the sometimes depressing societal ways we’ve developed in this day and age. 

I’ll leave you with this thought, as co-creator Paul Bassis put it to me, “As individuals who are all a part of a species, we must have the courage to be leaders and put aside our fear. The definition of leadership is a person(s) who can set direction for others and build an inspiring vision. Leaders must have a willingness to go first, you’re always going to have doubts but those doubts should ultimately become motivation...what drives you.”

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