For decades, I have been volunteering at the huge Oregon Country Fair. Started in 1969, OCF now brings together about 40,000 people over three days in July on about 300 acres that several thousand of us volunteer to run. We all own the land, and the Fair has about 50 food booths and 700 artisans, along with a bunch of stages and wandering ambient performers. Over the decades, many of these counter-culture leaders have utilized the Fair as a kind of reunion for an extended family and what is often called “hippy” culture. The land, which OCF found out has been used for thousands of years for indigenous people to gather each summer, is about 15 miles west of Eugene, near the small town of Veneta.
I have personally found a great deal of inspiration and support by attending and participating in the Oregon Country Fair. My work as an activist to change the mental health system has been very much helped by being in this community. When some of us dream about a society that values all of our human feelings, ideals, and emotions, very often we end up talking about celebration and festivals like this.
For too long we have considered mental well-being to be about the five, ten, fifteen, or twenty percent of us that gets a psychiatric label each year. But really, if you look around at out world for a moment, you can easily see that to be alive, to be human, to exist, one must have support and healing. Festivals like this one give a glimpse of what the world can be like and I recommend this experience for envisioning a future mental health system or any futuristic vision of change.
But what about now?
I and many others in the Fair Family have often wondered why we cannot bring this creative energy to the wider world. After many fairs, I have asked, “Why can’t this be more than three days, why can’t we be outside of Veneta?” Well, quietly such psychospiritual rejuvenation has been growing internationally.
A few years ago, a small documentary team visited a couple dozen of what they call “transformational festivals” in several countries and they have made a series of videos that you can watch online for free, though like me, you may be inspired to make a donation after you see the first three (I understand they are working on creating a fourth).
Check out a free preview / overview that in less than 10 minutes sums up this series, here: http://thebloomseries.com/
Once you see this preview video, you can view all three of the full documentaries that are available in this Bloom series here: http://thebloom.tv/public/