GC Explores ‘We Love Green’: A Paris Music Festival for a Greener World
The record rainfall and subsequent historic flooding of the Seine didn’t dampen the “We Love Green” electronic music festival held in Paris last weekend. Because the rain had finally stopped a mere day before the festival, the production team had to deal with some serious logistical challenges– but festival-goers showed up in large numbers regardless, tramping through muddy puddles in the Bois de Vincennes, one of Paris’ largest green spaces, where We Love Green hosted its annual event. In their rubber boots and slickers, visitors heard an exceptional line-up that included LCD Soundsystem, Air, PJ Harvey, Amon Tobin, and James Blake. The festival, whose attendance has grown each year, is a testament to the event’s eco-friendly ethic. This first event in France hopes to be a pioneer in the field of green development as it relates to music-focused events.
For the last five years, the organizers have offered a zero-waste event that is powered by 100% renewable energy. Their objective: to build bridges between art and sustainable development while reducing the festival’s carbon footprint as much as possible after the 50,000 spectators leave. The entirely eco-conceived We Love Green festival benefits from young talents who create the structures, furniture, design objects and signage, which is all made from recycled or recyclable materials. “We solicited projects by organizing a workshop in advance of the festival,” explains Sarah Chayantz, the festival’s scenography director. “The goal was to create an experimental lab open to students or recent architecture graduates who wanted to make their first full-scale project. The workshop benefitted the festival and was also a professional springboard for the students since they were advised by a jury of experts.” (The jury included Belgian artist Arne Quinze, known for his monumental installation at Burning Man, Stéphane Rozenbaum, the Caesar-winning decorator of Michel Gondry’s film L’Ecume des Jours, and Alexis Tricoire, a plant artist and designer.)
Strolling near the festival’s central “think tank” conference and film area, one could have crossed paths with celebrities like Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, who currently has an exhibition at the Château of Versailles. As someone committed to environmental challenges, he urged festival-goers to get involved in culture: “when you listen to the concerts here, visit a museum, see a dance performance or hear poetry, you’re not just a consumer but a co-producer, since your involvement is not passive.
“When you listen to the concerts here, visit a museum, see a dance performance or hear poetry, you’re not just a consumer but a co-producer, since your involvement is not passive. Don’t let culture be marginalized or become a commodity. Turn thinking into doing.” — Olafur Eliasson
Don’t let culture be marginalized or become a commodity. Turn thinking into doing”. Other festival programming included panels on climate change, the relationship between man and nature, responsible consumerism, and today’s economic upheavals with respect to consumerism. These themes seem to ring true with the We Love Green generation. “Our parents weren’t aware of the urgent need to preserve ecosystems; they’ve left us a damaged world,” Marion, a 30-year-old attendee, laments. “We’re more concerned about these problems,” she says. “I’m glad I can help build momentum by buying a We Love Green ticket”. The festival will donate 30,000€ of its profits to the Bois de Vincennes in order to help preserve the biodiversity of one of Paris’s key sources of oxygen.
As for food, how could one resist sitting on a bale of hay to eat local, organic, in-season products? Whether it was the fusion cuisine of locavore chef Pierre Sang (a 2011 Top Chef) or the event’s homemade street food, raw food, organic smoothies, vegan or gluten-free pastries, and more, there was enough variety to satisfy the taste and preferences of a variety of politically- and ecologically-minded.
Concession stands were selected by a jury who held venders to strict standards. To have a stand at We Love Green, each concession owner had to participate in a workshop dedicated to committing and respecting the festival’s ambitious guidelines in terms of product quality, stock management, honoring their carbon footprint, and recycling all oils and waste. After being sensitized and aided in their quest to sell responsibly-crafted food, the stands were free to serve up mouth-watering delicacies according to their own aesthetic (a win-win for all parties).
PJ Harvey, a vocal environmentalist in her own right, closed out the festival. On an elegant, yet sober stage, her raw, organic performance stood out from the rest of the program as her alternatively poignant and crisp vocals thrilled the collective imagination. When this tiny, elf-like woman appeared to the beat of drums, her voice felt like a clarion call to action. We were proud that our muddy feet showed our penchant for green… and music!