A couple years ago, Ines Galinda and her friend Oscar Diaz were horrified by a documentary they saw on the BP oil spill. Instead of pushing their reaction aside, or signing an online petition, they decided to do something more to get people to pay attention to what they see as a dangerously growing stream of environmental disasters.
"People stopped paying attention to the oil spill but it still affects all of us," says Galinda. She cites radiation-contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant flowing into the Pacific and raw sewage flowing into Biscayne Bay as other examples. "People pay attention to news that is not important like Miley Cyrus dancing… but there’s a lot happening that gets swept under the rug. Our parents generation stood up for things without fear… at some point young people today forgot to do that."
Galinda and Diaz’ answer was the Friends of Nature, or FON Fest, which takes place at Virginia Key Beach on Key Biscayne Saturday and Sunday. They hope it will set an example as an environmentally responsible event and raise people’s awareness of environmental problems.
"Being a musician is like having super powers – you can move thousands of people," Galinda says.
The scope of the festival is ambitious, with five stages for over 60 electronica, reggae, indie rock and other musical acts, including major names like Nortec Collective and Matisyahu, and favorite local bands such as Locos Por Juana, Afrobeta, Kevens, Suenalo, as well as 17 comedians. There’s a film tent run by Wynwood’s O Cinema, and Red Cup Nation, a DJ booth in a solar powered truck. Artists will create works on site from trash and recyclables, and there will be workshops in yoga and community organizing.
Sound systems will be powered by biofuel generators, and campsites are available. The FON Fest website promotes car pooling and shuttles from four downtown sites.
They’ve had challenges in making the festival environmentally friendly. They had to hire an independent recycling company, since the City of Miami doesn’t provide recycling in city parks. Beverage companies refused to service the festival unless they did away with a plan for water stations so people could fill their own bottles.
Though Galinda has worked at South Beach clubs and Diaz at festivals such as Ultra, this is the pair’s first major event. Galinda says they’ve invested $400,000, maxing out credit cards and borrowing from friends and family. "This is a huge risk," Galinda admits. "But it’s worth it. I don’t want to be one of those people who stood by and said they didn’t try."