Earthkeepers Take on Bonnaroo

Our thanks to Timberland’s own Brian Coleman for sharing with us his recent experiences at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, including hanging out with the team from the Big Green Bus and talking All Things Earthkeeping with entertainers and fans alike:

Rural Tennessee in mid-June is not necessarily someplace you’d want to spend a day outside. Night time isn’t so bad, but during the day it’s fairly punishing. I think that the people who put on the Bonnaroo Music + Arts Festival know this.

But they’re in a tough situation. If they waited until later in the summer or later in the year then it would be hard for upwards of 80,000 (mostly) high school and college students to carve out the time between school and jobs to get to Manchester, Tennessee (which, during the Festival, apparently rises from a speck on the map to being the sixth largest city in the state).

Bonnaroo Crew \'08

Timberland’s “Bonnaroo Crew,” 2008

Still, while the blazing sun is beating down on the colorful “county fair”-fashioned Bonnaroo site, you really have to want to be there. And the tens of thousands of people who attend every year most definitely do want to be there, which is why it continues to be one of the most popular and engaging music, film and comedy festivals in the U.S.

Timberland has been a part of the Festival’s backstage/artist hospitality area since the Festival’s second year, and we returned for our sixth time in 2008. With a crew consisting of myself; four members of our PR team and some great young college students we hired to help out (thanks, Jaysson and Matt), we were able to get some of our new spring and summer footwear on some great influencers, ranging from established entertainers like Chris Rock, O.A.R., Robert Randolph and Ben Folds, to on-the-rise artists such as Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Alana Grace and metal shredders the Sword.

Aside from the product we bring every year, our main goal is to engage the people who come to the booth. The reason that we choose Bonnaroo each year isn’t random: we go there because the artists who perform there tend to be socially-conscious and aside from loving their music, we feel that they are great people to talk to about some of the things we are doing as a company. On-site, the Clean Vibes crew worked tirelessly to make sure that attendees, artists and crew recycled and composted at every turn, which was also a great service and they deserve special props for the work they do there each year.

Because of the Festival’s green/eco-leaning ethos, we are able to talk to artists from all genres – from singer/songwriters to hip-hop innovators – about Timberland’s corporate social responsibility agenda; our long history of community service; and our eco-conscious approach to footwear and apparel, which continues to make great strides as each season goes on.

We also had another important goal which relates directly to this blog – to let Bonnaroo artists and visitors know more about the just-launched Earthkeeper Network. We had some laptops in the tent for people to explore all the different aspects of the Network (Facebook page, YouTube brand channel, this blog, and the Changents site), and people were clearly interested.

In addition to our own tent staff, we were fortunate to have several members of the Big Green Bus stop by each day. Andrew Zabel and his group of merry travelers were a great addition to our Earthkeeper Network discussions and people appreciated being able to talk to them in person about their impressive quest to teach the world, one city at a time, more about the viability of using sustainable and recycled fuel sources.

We also had the chance to introduce Andrew and his crew to some of the “talent” that we were talking to in our booth, including Willie Nelson’s longtime musical collaborator and harmonica player Mickey Raphael and the group State Radio (themselves part of the Reverb organization, another of our Earthkeeper Heroes), who Andrew and Arch from BGB had a chance to interview for their own blog.

All in all, our four days there were chaotic, never-endingly busy, but very fulfilling. We helped strengthen our bond with the great people of Bonnaroo (many thanks to Festival founder Victor Waryas, as well as the Robyn, Chad and Rich at Superfly Productions for making it another great year) and we continued to get the word out about our products and about how Timberland is deepening its dialogue with consumers and making us all think about our own footprints.

There might not have been too much running water or shade there in Manchester during the afternoons, but the good vibes and great people kept us cool until the sun set each day.

Brian Coleman, PR Manager

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