Gathering together in a supportive community is a need that runs deep throughout cultures and across history. It is how we established security and felt a sense of belonging, of connection, of intimacy. The festival is one way communities come together to remind themselves we are in this together. Whether the purpose is to rejoice in the season’s harvest, commemorate a special transition in life, witness the union of two families, or to simply have a good time, festivals are an integral part of community life. In today’s society this sense of community belonging is lacking in many lives and it is no wonder music festivals are experiencing a resurgence of popularity. They provide a safe space to experience the freedom of expression – a place to simply be yourself – outside of the normal constructs and pressures of society.
Nestled in the Kootaney mountain range of British Columbia next to Lake Koocanusa is the magical festival called FozzyFest. This particular festival gathers together people from all over Western Canada and beyond for a weekend of celebrating the gifts and talents of many local individuals and communities. For one weekend in mid-September we came together to dance, laugh, cry, share, and most importantly, play. It is the playfulness that transports us into our childhood and brings us together as tribe.
One of the underlying pillars of FozzyFest is the value of family. Each of us brings to the festival our own personal experience of what family means to us, and whether or not we grew up with the felt support of family, its essence quickly becomes the foundational core of our time at FozzyFest. Each of us feels the support emanating from the people around us; we know we are safe and taken care of because we offer the same out to others. Being a part of the pre-festival build and set up, I was able to witness the sense of family established right from the beginning through each of the hands and hearts behind the festival. Many hands made light work and many hearts provided the loving support that endured the whole weekend. It is no wonder to me that many describe FozzyFest as a family reunion.
A deep sense of support laid the foundation for the environment in which we were immersed. The mountains, lake, flora, and fauna (along with a complete disconnection from the outside world without cell service) provided the space to reconnect with another part of our selves we so often forget about in our concrete jungles. It is within this environment of freedom and open expression that each of us is provided the inspiration to discover, explore, and give back our own gifts. As we witness others give of themselves, we too feel safe to give. It is within this space that each feels a part of something greater than one’s individual self. We finally feel a sense of belonging; an experience of community.
As the techno-shamans move the dancers with their musical frequencies, the wisdom-keepers light up eager students with facilitated workshops, the visual-storytellers spark imagination through art, the stage-builders mould space with creative hands, the movement-artists inspire body awareness through flow, light, and fire, and the countless contributors to gatekeeping, supporting services, organization and flow, and site beautification, each of the nearly 2000 festival goers receive a personal, living and breathing experience of the potential of community. We feel witnessed and acknowledged among others in a similar space. We feel connected to a tribe through our mutually shared humanness – the trials and tribulations, successes and victories – our love and our grief. We receive confirmation that we are valued as individuals, that there is a need for the unique gifts we have to offer, and that together we make magic happen.
Even though I was one of the first on site and one of the last to leave, I can’t help but get to the end of FozzyFest and feel as though it was too short. I relax into the knowing that part of the beauty of such an experience is the fleeting, temporariness of our time here. As each of us return home we are left wondering how to water the seeds of community that were planted within at FozzyFest. Can we create a sense of community and belonging, an environment for the free expression of each of our gifts, and the inspirational support to give our gifts in service to the whole? How do we carry what we have received forward and integrate it into our daily lives, allowing the lessons, insight, and inspiration to ripple out to others and ultimately transform the world into what our hearts know it can be? This act requires each of us to find the courage to trust in each other and our selves, knowing that when we come together and support one another we can accomplish anything.
I believe in you!