written by Austin Eames
All photos by Juliana Bernstein / Get Tiny Photography
The ultra-interactive, ultra-playful environment of Symbiosis Gathering is one that exists thanks to creativity and a common goal. As organic as the food, Symbiosis is sponsor-less, run entirely on ticket sales (so you won’t find any name brand stages or Budweiser commercials here). But what really struck a chord was the vibes that were laid down by the founders of this gathering to essentially, “Merge people who all have a similar ethos.” People literally ventured from all over the world to participate in this years’ Symbiosis Gathering, making it a wildly successful event that brought people together and made them happy.
Symbiosis had many positive attributes that ranged far and wide from the environment and music to the available commerce and workshops. From floating water barges to interactive climbable art installations, this festival did not fall short of providing an awesome environment with ample creative content. Three aspects of this festival that stood out in particular are…
- The layout
The stage areas were intricately built and offered visual appeal as well as ample room for the shifting crowds of approximately 15k people. I was especially intrigued by the “house” area with turf laid having an old fashioned look and house music bumping, of course. Due to time limitations I was only able to catch music on Saturday, however there was a vast array of festive live and electronic music, with main acts such as Santigold, RL Grime, and Dirtwire present. The music matched the eclectic nature of the venue, constantly shifting flavor yet maintaining a cohesive sense of psychedelic rhythm, structure and sound.
- The vendors
The unique clothing and accessory vendors were something else as well at this gathering. Whether you like steam-punk, eco-conscious glitter, or both, you were sure to at least be dazzled by a new set of furry ears and light up gear.
Organic and natural food vendors not only were serving delicious meals, but many had compostable utensils and plates which at least makes me feel like we’re trying to buffer the downsides of eating in the middle of a dust bowl.
Health conscious drinks such as Brilliant Elixirs herbal drinks and a variety of Kombuchas were available bottled and on tap. Chocolate, tea, and coffee lovers were most definitely welcomed and likely pleased to both taste and learn something new about their favorite hot mug drink or morning joe. In addition to alcohol, cannabis is allowed at this festival, so needless to say a variety of delicious smells wafted through the air all day and night.
- The art
The copious of amounts of spectacular art made the venue feel like a giant outdoor gallery party. We were amazed and honored to be present with so many pieces that had been created on site in the couple week period prior to the the event.
There are many exciting changes that will be coming to Symbiosis in 2017. Amongst them are:
- A full 7 days of this gathering vs. 4 in previous years
- Solar eclipse — anticipated 45 min period where everyone will be focused on the same thing. This is what the organizers say is the heart of a “transformational” festival
- Symbiosis will be moving to remote location in Oregon with no cell reception
- Bringing families is more encouraged
The festival’s two organizers gave a talk about next year that got me really excited. One of the founders grew up going to festivals with his parents, and talked about how traveling to festivals is a very regular thing for young people worldwide, a trend he’d like to see grow in the US. He mentioned that “When events get bigger they need to trend younger.” They mentioned “People are looking for community, and desiring to curate community and largely escape from the daily grind.”
Thanks Symbiosis for an incredible first year. I can’t wait to see all of you in Oregon next year for the eclipse!