“Uplifting the world through music” is the mission of the Arise Festival. An Earth-first approach to the ubiquitous summer music fest, Arise brought the big guns to play in its inaugural season, with 100 bands on 5 stages over 5 days, Aug. 14-18, including Michael Franti and Spearhead; Xavier Rudd and Zap Mama. Add to the mix celebrity spokeswoman and presenter Daryl Hannah, and we have a kick-off that promises to be a significant destination for years to come. Here, Daryl talks about community activism, getting arrested and saving the world…
French Davis: How did you become to be involved with the Arise Festival?
Daryl Hannah: My dear friend Paul Bassis has been coordinating it… And I knew that he was organizing this event to help promote some of the positivity and solutions and ideas and sentiments that we need more of in this world so it seemed like a good thing to come and support.
FD: Was there a specific point in your life where your passion for activism was awakened?
DH: I call myself an accidental activist to a certain extent, because it was somewhat by accident. My video blog series on my website DH Love Life was perhaps the second video blog series ever online. I decided that would be a really great way to start getting information about some of the inspiring people and work that I knew was going on out there that people on a larger level didn’t really know about. After I’d done about a dozen of them or so, my friend Julia Butterfly Hill called me to come down and learn about this struggle that was going on in Los Angeles to protect our nation’s largest urban farm. I was so moved by this incredible garden that this community had created out of what had literally been a dump before hand—this gorgeous organic food, 500 mature fruit trees that they’d grown over the 14 years that they’d been farming there, and fields of corn and avocados and mangos and papayas and medicinal herbs and things that were growing in the middle of the most poor and polluted part of Los Angeles. I think that was the catalyst for me, that’s when I just realized that I needed to do everything in my power to try to help them protect this place and that this should be a model for other cities to create healthy food for communities and to sequester some of the pollutants that were coming out of these places. That is what spurred me into a real “put your body on the line” type activist.
FD: How do you think your deep convictions and commitment have affected your acting career?
DH: You know, I know this is a question that comes up every now and then but it’s not something I really think about at all in real life. I love movies; I will always be involved in creative ventures because that is the essence of who I am, because I am a creative person. I don’t spend too much time thinking about how to balance that work that I do with the work that I consider my purpose or my mission and I don’t worry about if there is a detrimental effect one way or another because these are just things that I am called to do.
FD: What do you think the top 3 things are that you see as the most critical issues facing the world today?
DH: That’s a hard question to answer. You know we are facing so many crises, we are literally facing crises on every level, I don’t know if you can take it down to the top three. But I think it is important to look at what is the root and what is the cause of these crises. I think trying to address the symptoms without understanding the causes may be silly, because then you are just putting a Band-Aid on the problem, which will continue to occur unless you address the problems at the heart of it. So I think that we need to take a cold hard look at things like industrial military complex, the corporate influence globally over our politicians and policies, those things are sort of at the root. It’s our almost illegal loyalty to the bottom line and to report to shareholders. And I’m not saying we can’t have an economy that can flourish but we can’t do that at the expense of our very ability to survive.
FD: How do you see the arise festival impacting that?
DH: There are a couple of things that the arts do really well, one thing is that they help to celebrate and enjoy life. And the more you love life the more you want to protect it. I think the other part of it is that they’ll have a lot of information booths and tents and they will give people access to information. Large festivals are very hard to do in a socially responsible way, and this is one that will be done in a great way, and people will see what is compost and what isn’t and what is recyclable, and a lot of different things like that, and hopefully people will be able to absorb those things in some way.