Strange Folk Festival 2008

Besides filling the role of fearless leader here at CAGW, I’m the “strange girl in charge” of Strange Folk, an indie arts and craft show right across the river from St. Louis, MO. This will be our 3rd year, and there’s lots of great new shtuff in store. For starters, we’ve extended the event to two days: September 27th and 28th, 2008.

Vendor applications are now being accepted on our website thru July 6th. Last year we hosted 100 vendors from across the country, and will be accepting 120 for this year’s event. I’m giving Crafting a Green World the inside scoop, because we are aiming to make Strange Folk eco-friendly as well.

The great thing about promoting indie craft shows is that they draw a huge following online. Many have been very successful at tapping into their target audience through MySpace, Facebook, or online ads. This cuts out a huge chunk of advertising expenses, which makes it possible to charge pretty reasonable fees to the vendors. At least, this has been my experience. However, marketing efforts wouldn’t seem complete without painting the town with posters and flyers. Not to mention, who doesn’t love shwag? Last year, as an incentive for people to start opening their wallets right off the bat, we gave out goodie bags to the first 100 people who showed us a vendor purchase at our info booth (they were gone in 15 minutes). We also sold the bags separately. They were made of cotton and contracted through a local printer. Then there’s decorations, print ads, paperwork, and over 5,000 attendees consuming everything from bottled water to BBQ…many of whom have driven 20 miles or more to get there.

Strange Folk has a lot of positive effects on my community, but our environmental footprint is Sasquatch sized. Other events, such as the Green Festival in Chicago, and even the 2008 Democratic National Convention are doing everything they can to go green, but it’s not perfect. Resources are limited, and I’m on a tight budget to begin with. Even if I have posters printed on recycled paper with soy based inks, toxic chemicals were still used to make the paper. It was still made of trees and probably can’t be recycled again.

It’s it’s misleading to make eco-friendliness a gimmick these days. Very few things are truly green if you look at their entire life cycle. If people keep humming along thinking that reducing our environmental impact is going to solve everything then we are just prolonging the inevitable.

Even if I put up biodegradable balloons and give out bags made from recycled plastic bottles, maybe the only claim to be made is: it isn’t enough, but we did our best with what’s available.

I’ll keep you posted on all the strange festivities as the big weekend approaches. In the meantime, If anyone can point me in the direction of eco-conscious promo suppliers, or has tips on how to reduce our footprint otherwise, please leave comments!

Written by Autumn Wiggins

This 2008 interview pretty much sums it up:

1. How would you describe yourself?
An oddly situated performer of thought experiments

2. Do you have any anecdotes about your work (how you got started, frustrating moments, or funny stories)?
At this year's Maker Faire in San Mateo, I gave a presentation on how the trend of green crafting can ultimately address the problem of consumption and waste. Dale Dougherty,the publisher of Make and Craft, later had a gift delivered to me, a staple bound book of poetry: Music Like Dirt by Frank Bidart. This is the last thing one would expect to take home from an event so focused on renegade technology. To my surprise, it was an existential reflection on the human need to make things that I now find myself going back to whenever I need some inspiration to look beyond the materials and processes of crafting.

3. What kinds of things do you do for fun?
In my spare time I enjoy amateur astronomy, outdoor adventures, collecting domain names, and hanging out at coffee shops.

4. What interesting projects are you working on right now?
I'm working to organize community involvement in upcycling, and have a few top-secret website projects up my sleeves!

5. Where do you live? Kids, pets, spouse, occupation?
O'Fallon, IL, a suburb (and I mean a totally typical suburb) of St. Louis, MO. Rather than moving to the more culture friendly urban environment, I am staying put and annoying the heck out of Wal-Mart by throwing a massive indie craft show(Strange Folk) in their backyard. I have a husband, Doug, and two sons: a 7 year old mad scientist named Jack, and 6 year old Max, who we think is an aspiring tattoo artist since he's so fond of drawing all over himself with markers. To pay the bills, I do freelance writing, mural painting, and website design, sell my handmade crafts, teach art classes for kids, and work part -time at a local coffee shop.

6. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
The concept known as "Cradle-to-Cradle" is a blueprint for sustainability that states everything we manufacture should be either biodegrable, infinitely recyclable, or intended to be upcycled. This is the basis for many of my ideas of how the crafting community can be more widely involved in solving the environmental crisis.

7. What is your favorite food/color/tool?
granola/green/sewing machine!

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act: Advocacy Tips for Crafters

Yearn Worthy Yarn: Frog Tree