Forewarning: the following introductory post will likely be a jumbled up mess.
I attended the 2015 Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival–the 40th overall and my first–as one of the “Forty Firsties”, a group of first-time attendees who received one of forty free 6-day tickets purchased by a collective of womyn who pooled their funds to help more womyn get on the Land this year. I am both deeply grateful for and humbled by their generousity, and owe everything to the womyn who contributed to that campaign, as I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. I drove for nine hours, then waited a further nine hours in the queue of womyn waiting to get through the front gate, before setting up a tent in the pitch black of night in the middle of the Michigan woods with sweat pouring off of me and the biggest cloud of gnats I’ve ever seen buzzing around my face. I’m a die-hard insect fan and even I was grossed out by the experience. It was a wild first day to put it simply, and it wasn’t even counted as one of the official days of the festival itself.
A lot happened under that huge blue sky in the unnamed region of Michigan where Fest has been taking place for the last four decades. I’d heard Michfest described almost universally as “indescribable” prior to arriving on the Land, but I didn’t really have an appreciation of what that meant until I was there living it. It is indescribable. I felt like I’d lived on that Land for a hundred years by mid-week; I discovered things about myself in two days that I hadn’t been able to unearth in my previous twenty some years; I feel like in a lot of ways I became my truest self there. I saw, I felt, I did, I heard.
It’s a lot to process; I’m not sure I have the words to write it all down, let alone do the experience any justice. But even as I get overwhelmed at the very idea of translating those huge moments, hard realizations, and breath-taking beautiful sights, I’m reminded of the central theme of this year’s Allies in Understanding workshop series: what will be Michfest’s legacy? Can I stand by and let hateful people who have never been on the Land describe it with hyperboles and anger, never having a clue about what’s really out there? I don’t think I can. I might end up writing too much, but I’d greatly prefer that over writing too little.
I’ll be using this space to work through all things relating to my Fest experience. I need to write it down for myself as well as for anyone else that might stumble upon these posts and want to know the truth of Michigan rather than the lies. And more than that, I have to believe there’s a “next” for Michfest, a daughter that will rise from the ashes of the mother. I simply can’t imagine all those thousands of womyn on the Land last week will quietly dissipate into the woods and beyond, never to rise again. I’ll leave this first post with a quote from Fest, one that has hung heavily with me ever since I first heard it:
“If you need it, then create it, and sustain it.”