[Editor’s note: De La Vaca conducted this interview using questions developed by our editorial intern, Kalli Gardenhire, who then wrote the article based on audio of the conversation. Our thanks to Kalli for her superb efforts.]
Paul Bassis co-founded ARISE with Tierro Lee, but the movement behind the festival was founded by something much bigger than an individual. “ARISE is a part of something that is happening on a global scale,” Bassis told us, sitting in Gravity Brewing in Louisville, CO, on the Fourth of July, “people are rising up – collectively and individually – and I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.”
ARISE began “as a concept” in 2012, but the first annual 3-day camping festival was in 2013. Comprised of uplifting music, yoga classes, art exhibits, and Sunrise Ranch’s own farmer’s market, the festival provides a community with the ingredients required to invite revolution into our hearts. Statistically speaking, people can’t get enough. From the first festival in 2013, attendance has more than doubled with over 11,000 people attending last year to bear witness to the magic. This year’s ARISE Festival is taking place August 2nd – 4th at the same iconic, gorgeous location: Sunrise Ranch, in Loveland, CO.
So, what’s so captivating about an independent Colorado festival in a Coachella-obsessed nation? Bassis humbly explains it. In a world of disconnected beings with different agendas, different storylines, different values, ARISE invites individuals to become a community. Whether it be connections made at the campgrounds, during yoga, or a at panel discussion, the festival is carefully crafted to provide a space that welcomes dialogue between people from all walks of life.
“Diversity in an ecosystem is what makes an ecosystem thrive,” Bassis said, “and a festival environment is kind of an ecosystem.” Or it can be, if organizers are intentional about it. We can’t same the same thing happens at *every* festival.
The ARISE staff is dedicated to establishing a diverse and authentic brand, consciously incorporating a variety of cultures within the Sunrise Ranch based event. It’s all about being aware of who came first, how they got here, and where we are now. This very narrative is becoming increasingly rare in modern society, with fast-paced-living forcing us to go through the motions.
ARISE invites you to stop and smell the roses, both figurative and literal.
Humanity as a theme has popped up in a lot of our conversations lately, with the current political climate forcing us to question what the word really means. To Bassis, humanity is a simple term, a term that is grounded by the idea of people being empowered. From the beginning, the founders intended for people to leave the festival with open hearts and empowered minds.
Throughout his career, Bassis has bridged entertainment and activism, programming festivals around sustainable actions such as providing free water sources to avoid selling plastic water bottles because, he puts it simply, “it’s the right fuc*ing thing to do.” Bassis puts his words into action and inspires people to do the same, with a little motivation from the festival’s collection of workshops and panels aimed at stimulating a want, and maybe a need, to activate.
Capitalizing even more on being environmentally conscious, the festival takes the term “eat your view” quite literally.ARISE is the only large-scale summer music festival in the U.S. to incorporate a farmer’s market on the campgrounds. Even more impressive, all the food is grown on the nutrient-rich soil of Sunrise Ranch, no more than just a few hundred yards from the campground. This might just be the most sustainable fun you’ll have all year.
But why stop there? ARISE Festival sticks to their core-values, and at the top of that list is being environmentally aware. For every ticket sold, a tree is planted; building a forest cultivated from love and fueled by humanity. Over 11,000 trees were planted from last year’s festival alone, and according to statistics, that number is projected to rise annually. “We hope everybody steals our idea,” Bassis says about their each ticket sold equals a tree planted project. Interestingly, new reports claim that a massive global tree planting is the best bet to combat climate change. ARISE is definitely ahead of the curve on this one. There is something so wholesome about longing for your competitors to steal an original idea simply because it benefits everyone. Authenticity at its finest.
As stated earlier, Bassis believes the ARISE experience can only be heightened by diversity; gender, sexuality, race, income, and, yes, this includes age diversity.
“Young people bring a dynamic energy that is a viable component of what the ARISE festival is. Whether people are cognizant of it or not, it has an effect of the vibe.” This is another core-value of theirs; children 12 years and under are granted free admission. “Children should not be deprived of an experience that’s unlike anything else in our society,” Bassis emphasizes. “For the kids that come to ARISE, it’s almost better than Christmas. They freaking love it.”
A kid-welcoming and eco-friendly atmosphere aren’t the only components on ARISE’s core-valued vehicle to empowerment. The concept of authenticity is an essential element of the festival’s ultimate goal. Bassis exudes a bit of philosophy, a bit of the poet talking about authenticity: being authentic means to instinctually act on what you feel is natural. The festival hopes to evoke kindness from an instinctual level; meaning to be kind when no one is looking, to be the source of joy even when the source is anonymous.
“Sometimes people will do (random acts of kindness) that we don’t know about. I don’t feel there’s a need to know about someone’s personal revolution, because it’s a personal movement.”
ARISE Festival: to go or not to go, that is the question. We’ll leave the answer up to your desire to feel the warmth of humanity, on 100 acres of beautiful Colorado land, surrounded by the best people and the best music. We hope you’ll choose humanity.
For more information about the festival, visit https://arisefestival.com
Tickets available at https://arisefestival.com/tickets/