This weekend I ventured off to my first Coachella. As I walked through the scanning machine, (welcome to the 21st century -- definitely different from the Woodstock days) into the large field filled with people of all types -- from hipsters to house-heads to hippies, I also heard three different types of music at once, letting it all soak in. I scanned my territory and also saw all off my different groups of friends. I have never been one to stay in a clique, (I'm a connector since birth) so have friends from all walks of life and saw so many people I loved who would never be in the same room if it wasn't for something bigger than themselves bringing them together. I started thinking about the impact of crowds, of a concept and movement like Coachella or any music festival being able to unite and bond people of all different backgrounds, tastes and walks of life into one space. I absolutely love serendipity which in reality is just bettering the statistics of running into quality people by doing things that you are passionate about. The more you follow what you love, the more you will run into the same people over and over again that love similar things. There was definitely an element of serendipity with Coachella. Both my phones died and I was left to leave it all up to chance of who I ran into. I ended up running into every person I had planned to see prior to the trip without ever having to text them. Do I think this is the universe playing tricks on me? Not particularly, but I do think there is something to say about the element of something as strong of a presence as Coachella to bring together a group of amazing people who would never necessarily meet otherwise.
After Kony 2012, I really started to analyze the difference between a community and a crowd. A crowd convinces and influences individuals to sometimes make decisions based on the fact that the more people doing it, the easier it is to follow. This concept is also very scary. People who do not know where to look or what to believe in follow the crowd based on the fact that it's easier. People can make mindless decisions that can negatively impact individuals like trying to tear someone down or knock something just to knock it, that they forget what or why they were a part of the crowd in the first place, but are swept away by the masses. This sometimes comes from a lack of understanding and education, sometimes it comes from a place of fear, or sometimes you just decide to follow the crowd based on the fact that it's just plain easier. Communities, while still at times can be crowds of people have more of a soul. Communities bring individuals together with similar passions and ideas. They create support systems and provide opportunity to learn more about yourself through rich relationships you share with others who have similar values.
By building off of the community mentality, there is a bigger way of looking at the power of "crowds." If you look at all of the platforms available to promote the idea of bringing people together for a bigger reason, such as crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and kickstarter, you can recognize the value of using passion and like minded ideas to bring people together to create change.
While Coachella may have been a huge crowd of people who were there for all different reasons: some to party, some to network, some to escape, but everyone was there for the music at the end of the day. People were discovering different bands they had never heard of, co-existing, dancing and mingling with all different types of people, allowing for the music (and yes I'm sure other things) to take a hold of them. If you looked carefully, you could see the entire AEG/Goldenvoice team running around, driving in golf carts from location to location, fixing items that needed to be fixed, they were the wizard behind Oz, all to create something that was a seamless movement of individuals who were brought together from all over to be in the field, bop their heads, close their eyes and let their passion for music take over.
With the concept of bringing people together based on passion, I think that with a strong foundation, a solid team, a concept and support system in place that is driven by a soul, a crowd can become an opportunity to bound together individuals in a positive way. Coachella exposes individuals who may have been coming to only go to the Sahara tent and see house acts to learn about indie bands or grunge music, and vice versa. It provides an experience for individuals to not only express what they know they are passionate about but also learn about other things they could potentially be passionate about but they were never exposed to before.
That is the point of a community. A crowd overcomes the individual. It consumes individuals to sometimes make decisions they don't necessarily even know why they are making. A community fosters individuals' passion, talent and supports independent thinkers by bringing them together for a bigger picture idea. Whether this is throwing all different people in a field and introducing art and music, or whether this is creating a platform that allows for users to support each other and learn from each other's differences and passions, the opportunities are endless. The most important thing of all though is to always be open to "serendipity," to different types of people, opinions; because sometimes even when you were supposed to go to the main stage, you are led to a whole another part of the field, and you never know who you will meet or what you will learn by doing so.
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