in theme with the Earth Day themes that have hit all week long, the
local events come to a close with a two-day festival in Salt Lake
Earth Jam kicks off Friday at Liberty Park, bringing together a concert and celebration with environmentally friendly ideas and practices to help make our planet cleaner and greener. One of the longest running festivals in both Utah and in association with the yearly event, its one of the few shows that happens every year no matter what the weather or circumstances, and had become a local staple that officially kicks off the run of summer music and art festivals. Did I mention its free too? I got a chance to chat with several members of the Earth Jam staff about its origins, plans for this year's events and a few other topics.
Dena Ranck, Amber Waddoups & Trisha Smith
Gavin: Hey guys! First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Dena: My name is Dena Ranck, my husband Phil and I started with Earth Jam five years ago. I made jewelry and we were asked if we would like to help out in exchange for my booth fee. We started out by doing some over night security, and now we are both Event Coordinators. Phil does all the band scheduling, set up and tear down and I am the Vending Coordinator and website designer. I also run the my-space page, and whatever else Dan and Trisha need.
Amber: I am Avalon (aka Amber) I am the Volunteer Coordinator for this year's Festival. I am a leader in the Earth based Spirituality Community here in Salt Lake City, The Church of the Sacred Circle and also a member of Our Order Lady of Salt. I was contacted by Trisha last year to be a part of the festival to lend my talents, and spiritual knowledge of the Earth to bring more meaning to our Festival. I love all the people in Earth Jam Productions and have had a great time helping the Earth with all of the contributions that this Festival offers to help the public have more knowledge about our Earth and Gaia.
Trisha: My name is Trisha Smith and I am the Vice President of Earth Jam Productions. I am turning 35 on May 2nd, just after Earth Day. I met Dan Marsh in 2005. I had completed the Wisdom Course with Landmark Education (www.landmarkeducation.com) and created an initiative to bring peace to my communities. I looked for a way to contribute and thought Earth Day was a perfect match. My husband and his family had taken me to the desert of Southern Utah to camp since I was 19 years old. I have a wonderful relationship with the outdoors. There is a calm spirit out there that is not in the city. Upon meeting Dan we became partners in many festivals. He mentored me for several years. This year we accomplished our 501 C 3 and many other goals that Dan had when I met him. I feel proud to see him reach a dream he has had for so many years. My training in the Landmark Education Curriculum for Living Life Powerfully and Living a Life You Love has had me see the stand I can be in our community and the difference I can make.
Gavin: For those who don't know, what is Earth Jam.
Dena: Earth Jam Productions is a non-profit organization that comes together every April in celebration of Earth Day. Our annual Festival is held in Liberty Park located in Salt Lake City, UT. We host one of the largest FREE festivals in Salt Lake City. Our mission is to bring people and communities together in one place at one time to educate on environmental issues and concerns. As well as providing a venue for local music, art and entertainment.
Gavin: How did the idea come about to start the festival?
Dena: It began with Dan Marsh and a group of others working for a company that claimed to be supporting environmental issues. It was actually all lies. They were collecting money from the public and putting it in their pockets. One day over half the employees walked off the job and assisted in shutting the company down. Dan was one of them. From there they created Earth Jam; the first event was held on March 28, 1992.
Gavin: Does it get easier year by year or is it always a challenge?
Trisha: There is a lot of growth and development in Earth Jam Productions this year. We have introduced several educational components that have been a challenge for us to fulfill on. This makes doing the work exciting. I have been working to grow our teams and support structures. We have many new leaders coming in. This is refreshing and challenging to work with so many individuals to accomplish our goals.
Dena: Every year is a new challenge, because as the festival grows we add new things. I think our biggest challenge is finding a volunteer team that wants to help and stick around each year developing there area into something amazing. We have an incredible core team of officers, I feel that with a festival of this size you become like a family that is well organized and always in communication with each other.
Gavin: Considering all the random events that usually happen at Liberty Park, do you ever run into issues with other groups or is everyone generally respectful of the space?
Dena: I would have to say that everyone is pretty respectful of the space. The Sunday Drum Circle at Liberty Park is usually the biggest event taking place and never has there been a competing conflict. The Drummers have always moved to the other side of the park. We have talked about a way to involve the Drum Circle in Earth Jam but with it being an unorganized gathering there is know one to help us organize the drummers, however their presence in the park does add a feeling of freedom.
Gavin: This year marks the 17th year since the first, how does it feel having it last this long?
Trisha: When I began in 2005 there was already such a large following. It was fun to come in and support this already huge festival. There were 30 vendors and non-profits, one large stage and one acoustic stage. Today we have over 150 vendors and five stages. We are looking to our future and I don’t think we realize how much we have accomplished. We have an amazing and powerful team. We need a focused expert to work with us on sponsorships.
Gavin: What kind of events do you guys have planned for this year's festival?
Dena: Of course, show-casing the wonderful talent of Utah?s local music is the biggest focus point of Earth Jam but there is so much more that can be overlooked. Our adult workshops are very educational on things such as Square Foot Gardening to Solar ovens; they will be running Saturday and Sunday from 11AM to 5PM Visual art and hands on art from around Slat Lake including the 337 Art Truck will also be a part of our presentation. There will be performing artists through out both days starting at 2PM. along with other activities through out both days.
Gavin: On live music, who can we expect to see, and are there any last minute acts coming in?
Dena: There will be 32 bands playing this year between the Earth Stage and The Fire Stage; there have been some band changes. All of the bands are very good and it is hard to just highlight just a few of them.
Gavin: I understand there's a Children's Garden. Tell us a little about that.
Dena: We have had a Kiddy Village in the past but this year we have brought on board Carrie Gerber and have changed the name to The Children's Garden Center. Carrie has brought the vision of children's education and Earth Jam full circle. There will be 16 booths in the Children's Garden Center with the theme of Plants and Soil and the four elements. The Children's Garden was divided into four sections, earth, air, fire and water. Each section will have four booths that pertain to that element and how it interacts with plants and soil. There will be hands on education and a free craft project in each section. There will also be face painting, smoky the Bear, an 8 foot dinosaur leg and story time with Mother Goose.
Gavin: Are you still seeking out volunteers, and where can they apply to help?
Amber: Yes we are still looking for volunteers, Anyone wanting to volunteer can go to firstname.lastname@example.org and join the list and see the schedule of open time slots. Or they can contact me, Avalon at email@example.com or call (801) 661-1710.
Dena: Volunteers are the backbone of Earth Jam and we are always looking for volunteers. We need help with set up and tear down, anyone who would like to help with that can come to the park Friday April 24th at 3PM On the day of the show we will be looking for people to help in our Children's Garden craft booths, the Earth Jam food booth, our safety team and help with keeping the park clean. Anyone who would like to do this may come the day of the show, or see our website for more information.
Trisha: For this festival to run really smoothly we need around 125 volunteers each day. Come work with a top production company, put it on your resume or sign off on service hours. Make a difference on our planet. Come to the park Friday April 24th at 2, Noon-9PM on Saturday and Sunday and jump in.
Gavin: Also this year, who won the Earth Goddess Pageant and what duties does she have?
Dena: Karen Wilson was crowned Earth Jam's new Goddess on March 28th, she is the founding member of Calcium Springs Farm located by Parley's Canyon, she is also the founder of Mountain Fire, a belly dancing and fire dancing troop. Karen's duties as our Earth Goddess will be to promote sustainability and awareness of Mother Earth throughout the year; to be Earth Jam's spokes person for the media, to MC at Earth Jam and to plan next years Goddess Pageant.
Gavin: Are there any other events for Earth Jam you'd like to tell everyone about?
Dena: Earth Jam plans events through out the year, we start doing this in May after Earth Jam.
Amber: The Church of the Sacred Circle will be having a Psychic Fair where there will be Card readings, psychics, astrologers, ect.
Gavin: Besides the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Dena: Please check out Calcium Springs Farm, learn to be in tune with your surroundings and Mother Earth. Do some simple things to help the environment like recycle, reuse, and carpool. Buy local products and volunteer with an environmental group. We are one planet, and one people, make a difference in your communities! For all listings of bands, workshops and other activities taking place at Earth Jam 2009 please see our website at earthjam.org.