Special to The Record
The party is over; now the hungry are getting fed.
After three days of intense music, dance, art and workshops at Atmosphere Gathering festival, a team of dedicated volunteers has brought Cumberland’s Village Park back to what it was. They’ve dismantled the stages, Big Top tent and myriad infrastructure, while the MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) team has the park super clean again.
It was the third year for the festival, organized by Cumberland Village Works, which again featured hundreds of volunteers and a stellar line-up of international and local music stars, plus art, culture and workshops.
While attendees were generally good at using recycling and trash receptacles, the MOOP volunteer crew of 18, led by Erin Matz & Rhia Ironside, walked the event site and campground all weekend, gathering compostables, recyclables and garbage.
The results: over $1,000 in deposit-return refundables. But this year, Matz, Ironside and the CVW producers decided that that money should go directly into the community. They chose the Comox Valley Better Life Centre, a local organization that engages youth and adults to provide food for the hungry.
The Atmosphere MOOP volunteers worked in shifts from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m., keeping up with the roughly 1500 festival-goers each day.
“We’ve been to festivals that claim to be about love and awareness, but leave enormous amounts of trash,” said Ironside. “We believe that celebrations can be clean and not produce so much waste.”
“We are so happy to have Village Park, right in the centre of Cumberland,” said Atmosphere co-producer Melissa Roeske. “We live here, we love it and we want to keep it as the beautiful place it is. And, we felt it was important to give back to the Valley community.”
Meanwhile, presenters at Atmosphere repeatedly encouraged festival-goers to check out the village and many did.
“It’s looking amazing here,” said Matz on Wednesday, as she and volunteers put the finishing touches on the cleanup. “We have an intimate relationship with Mother Nature; we have a responsibility and we need to set examples of how she should be treated.”
The Better Life Centre has been operating six years, helping people in need and those who serve the community, buying food, preparing and delivering meals.
The group has evolved into a bottle-return service to fund its projects. “We have kids going door-to-door all over the Valley, leaving cards offering to pick up bottles,” said spokesman Carey Porcher. “The kids are really behind this and we’re behind the kids.”
Both Better Life Centre and MOOP can be found on Facebook. Contact BLC at 250-218-9420 to arrange bottle pickups.