Be the Change

Ode to Comfest Columbus circa 2008. Comfest 2011 is June 24-26, 2011.

This is not the truth.  But it it what we wish were true.

Life is not this way.  It is not a party.  We don’t all get along.  Which is why I like it here.  Here there is live music and beer.  There are artists and old hippies and wannabe hippies.  There are cool dads with their kids hanging out on blankets in the park.  There are college kids with their girlfriends hanging out on blankets in the park.  There is the shade of the trees, vendors of crafts, activists, & vegetarian food.  There are muddy people playing frisbee barefoot.  There is  the occasional whiff of an illegal smoked substance.  There are more graphic tees than can possibly be imagined, some clever, some activist.  As hippie, free-love as it sounds, all are welcome here.  Maybe it is about making change.  Maybe it is about remembering a lost past, reminding later generations about the first Comfest in 1972, when hippies were hippies.

I lived in Columbus, Ohio once.  Twice I went to ComFest, 1999 and 2000.  I have been waiting to return.  It is 2008, and I made it. I spent the weekend at Columbus’s Community Festival 2008.

In a local paper, I read a commentary which spoke ill of Comfest.  The bands are not democratically chosen, they said.  The attendees are really suburban yuppies just here to impress their girlfriends, they complained.

And I have no rebuttal.  I am not a hippie either.  I have a day job.  But this festival reminds me what is important.  It is not my job.  It is my friends.  It is music.  It is summer in the outdoors.  Those things are all important.  And though we can’t keep them with us forever (utopias haven’t worked yet, at least), we can at least keep this weekend.  I will fill up my souvenir beer mug with iced tea when I sit on the patio on sunny Saturday mornings and remember a time when everything was perfect – if only for a weekend.

Be the change.

Originally published July 2008

The Community Festival Statement of Principles is worth repeating:

We think that people ought to work for the collective good of all people rather than for personal gain. We support cooperation and collective activity rather than competition and individual profit.


The basic necessities of life are a right and not a privilege. People have the collective right to control the conditions of their lives.

People should strive to conduct their lives in harmony with the environment.

We recognize that there are primary attitudes which divide and oppress people. These attitudes are usually shown by prejudice against people on the basis of age, class, ability, income, race, sex and sexual preference/orientation. We seek to eliminate these attitudes.

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