How did you first hear about the Lotus organization?
My old friend and former psychotherapist Colleen Cleary, especially loved the Lotus Dickey Tribute, but was BIG on dancing to whatever groove she was hearing at any given moment: salsa, reggae, roots, rock, whatever. She convinced me to give it a try, and I’ve never looked back.
What initially inspired you to volunteer for our organization?
I was broke! Having the opportunity to “work for my supper” was a delight, when so many events are simply closed to those who cannot afford the ticket. The Lotus has always been wonderful about providing other opportunities for people to get the goods in a completely legit, reasonable manner. I still volunteer today even though I could afford the ticket because I have so much fun doing it.
What volunteer jobs have you performed?
Sites setup, from the beginning! My first year volunteering, I picked up a crescent wrench to set up risers, and I was hooked. I was asked to join the Sites committee after that first year, and I’ve helped organize Sites every year since then. I tell everyone it’s the best Lotus volunteer gig to have because (a) it’s a wonderful group of humans to work with, and (b) we get almost all our work done before the festival happens, so we’re mostly free to enjoy all the music we can fit in. (The shifts for regular setup volunteers are all in advance or teardown after the show is over. While committee members put in extra hours planning and being on-call during the Festival, we get some extra perks that make those additional hours worthwhile.)
Which volunteer experiences have you most enjoyed? Why?
How would you describe to a friend why they should attend or volunteer for the Lotus Festival?
Forget what you think you know about “world music” — listen to any fan of Lotus tell you about their favorite bands, and more to the point, listen to their enthusiasm as they talk about the festival. No recording can match the experience of live music resonating through your bones, and since the Lotus is designed to include an incredibly wide range of musical acts, it’s nearly unimaginable that you couldn’t find SOMETHING, likely lots of things, you will love. If you’re broke, grab a volunteer gig and try it out.
As for the value of Lotus volunteering, I have consistently met the most interesting folks who were also volunteering, and have made more than a few important friendships as a result. We have a lot of fun, we get the work done, and I think we all feel some “ownership” in the Festival as a result.
I always tell people, if I could only pick one “favorite thing” about living in Bloomington, it’s the Lotus.
What is your favorite Lotus moment?
My favorite is quite personal, but I know that there are a bunch of us who share it. Colleen Cleary, my friend and former therapist who introduced me to the Lotus (among other things), was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in August 2008. She had brain surgery, then radiation and chemo, but managed (with help from friends) to arrive at the start of the Lotus parade in late September, and dance her way with the crowd down Kirkwood. She even got her picture in the paper, smiling and dancing in a borrowed hoodie (so she wouldn’t be overwhelmed by clients and friends recognizing her on the street)! She truly taught me to dance through even the hardest parts in life, and Lotus is entirely intertwined with that message for me. When I think a minute, especially about musicians coming from places with great poverty and/or war, it seems the Lotus Festival does a lot toward bringing the possibility of world peace, of making friends out of “strangers” from other cultures.
Meet more Lotus Lovers who Light Up Lives!
Check back often for new profiles, and view the entire series here.