Front Porch Blog

App Voices Does Bonnaroo!

By special guest to the Front Porch Jaden McTaggart

Bonnaroo, the four day music festival in Manchester, TN is considered our modern day Woodstock. It’s a gathering of hippies, hipsters, veteran festival goers, techno ragers, families, crazies, and all things outside and in between. All these groups and cultures come together to celebrate something we all have in common… music!

Festival goers celebrate the community that naturally occurs when so many people convene to celebrate and share with one another. This community offers organizations like Appalachian Voices an excellent forum to share their messages with almost 90,000 people from all over the world! With this unique opportunity ahead of us, we set out from Boone ready to brave the heat and dust and start talking to folks about the people and environment of Appalachia.

We arrived Wednesday morning. After a long day of driving and a minor directional issue, aka driving 20 or so minutes if the wrong direction, we were all checked in and ready to set up camp. We set up and survived our first adventure, a torrential downpour that left our campsite in an inch or so of standing water. Man this is it! Mother Nature had welcomed us to this land. We were excited and anxious to see what the following day, the first official day of Bonnaroo, had to give us.

With a good nights sleep… well, with a soggy nights sleep, our pillows and blankets were literally soaking, we got pumped up to get going! If campsites were cars we rolled in a Bentley. We woke and cooked bacon and egg scrambles. We quickly made friends with our neighbors, an excellent crew from the voter registration organization Head’s Up, by sharing our delicious fried pork fat. We cleaned up camp and began the trek from our camp to Planetroo, the festival’s non-profit booth headquarters.

Hydration was absolutely essential.

We talked to so many amazing people over the next four days. One of my favorite quotes was, “Is this for real?” directed at the large images of devastating mountaintop removal sites. Some folks had no idea that mountains in Appalachia are being leveled to extract coal. Other people would walk up say something along the lines of, “I’ve been signed up for your email for years. I know about this and it’s horrible. What can I do now?”

Bonnaroosters flock to our booth and pledge to help end mountaintop removal!

We circulated a petition to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate coal wastes as hazardous. We generated so much interest in this issue that by the end of the festival, people were coming up to the booth and asking us where the coal ash petition was. By Sunday night we had so many signatures that we ran out of paper and had to start drawing the petition form on scraps!

Bonnaroo in itself is an incredible weekend of music and, for the most part, peace and community. I feel so fortunate being able to travel with this wonderful group of folks. It was so satisfying creating dialogue with such a diverse community on a subject that affects us all.

It was amazing to be at a show and see so many people sport their “I love mtns” tattoos and buttons. I’d be in a huge crowd of people and someone would see my button and say, “Hey, I love mountains too! What’s this all about?”

Clearly, mountaintop removal and pollution issues in Appalachia have claimed a place in the national agenda. Thousands of festival goers, through their sleep deprivation, hangovers and sunburns, took the time to seek out our booth and find out about our organization, and for that we extend our grandest thank you’s!

Jaden and Maeve spread the love for the mountains.

Check out photos of our trip here!





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