Before I had ever stepped foot upon sacred festival grounds, Good Signs had traveled the world, been raised up on totems, and found a place in the hearts and minds of festivarians who embraced, shared, and help embody the message delivered with each Good Sign given. Like many of you today, three years ago I prepared for my first musical festival, and journey into the Electric Forest. Whether it is your first, fifth, or 15th music festival, each is unique, and to be treasured, along with the individuals who you are blessed to sing, dance, and entertain the notion that magic is real beside.
Some travel to Rothbury to awaken a part of themselves that has been too long dormant; while others return each year to dive into an oasis of passion, positivity, and peace with their Forest Family. But no matter the details of your itinerary leading you into the Sherwood Forest, we all share a common and purposeful desire to be loved without condition, and find those we belong beside in our pursuit of a better world.
While many were quick to label Team Good Sign a “Festival Family,” I have always been quick to share that we are a Family. Hundreds of thousands of good people all around the world carry, wear, and share Good Signs for those who seek them; for those who are down and out and could use a reason to believe; for those who are weary and could use a tangible indicator that hope is apparent, and relief present. A Good Sign is like a hug you carry: it comforts; it calms; it reminds that you are not alone, and even strangers believe in you enough to ensure a ray of light penetrates the lingering darkness in your heart.
This will be my third Electric Forest, and my first on assignment for Good Sign Magazine. With the help of our Good Sign Ambassadors, the Huffington Post recently named Good Signs as a top “Agent of Change” in the world. Each year our story is discovered by those who need it, and those who make it possible. Good Signs have become a conduit, or common access point for do-gooders to be recognized, supported, and aligned.
Last year I had the pleasure of welcoming close to 50 of those do-gooders into our group camping, who were mostly strangers at the time. Over the course of my second Electric Forest, I had the pleasure of getting to know “Team Hug Life” and learn of their intention of inspiring the World’s Largest Group Hug.
“After Electric Forest 2013, many of us were part of the Facebook group known as “Electric Forest”, started/run by a friend of mine. This was my first year in the Forest, and it was life changing. A couple months had gone by, and my friend Chris VanderHorn and I had entertained an idea of standing by the entrance to Sherwood Forest for Electric Forest 2014, and literally hugging everyone that walked past us and thanking them for being a part of our experience,” Tom Parbs said.
In January 2014, Chris VanderHorn, Tom Parbs, Amber Dennis, Emily Fortier, and Angie Santiago applied with Guinness World Records for the attempt, and pursued every avenue to connect with Electric Forest. Changemakers pave the path of righteousness for others to follow; it isn’t always easy, but it is most definitely worth it!
“Towards the end of January 2014, we received notice from Electric Forest headquarters they were very interested in the idea and that we needed to reach out to them directly (with contact information). By vote of the group, I was to be the lead spokesperson in contact with EF HQ and handle the discussions/business aspect of our workings with them,” Parbs said.
Team Hug Life worked diligently with Electric Forest Plug-In Program Manager Lia Holland, and got the unofficial word that the world record attempt was green lighted for Electric Forest 2014.
“It was a dream come true, and very exciting days for us as we waited patiently for EF HQ to make the official announcement. Unfortunately, about 2 1/2 weeks before Electric Forest 2014, EF HQ had to pull the plug on the attempt (with no official announcement), as the space that was available would not hold enough people to break the current world record (which currently stands at 10,544 people, set several years ago in Canada). It was heartbreaking, but there was hope for the world record attempt to happen at EF 2015.”
Despite the frustration, Parbs maintained his relationship with Holland and Electric Forest HQ, and set his sights on Electric Forest 2015 in late September.
“Everyone at EF HQ were very much interested in the world’s largest group hug in 2015. Everything passed through the initial phases and budgetary planning at that point. So I kept up the constant contacts with Lia and EF HQ, as we slowly started planning all the phases that needed to be set-up and accomplished- from the planning at Double JJ ranch, and all the steps that we needed to clear with Guinness World Records. Everything continued to move smoothly along, and in mid-March 2015 we again got the unofficial word that everything was a GO and there would be an official announcement coming up. That was one of the most difficult times for myself and the team, as we knew it was going to happen BUT we couldn’t say anything to anyone. All the excitement, but we had to keep it a secret. Then on March 26, 2015, Electric Forest made the official announcement that we are going to attempt the World’s largest Group Hug during the Forest on Friday June 26, 2015 at about 2:30PM.”
The Electric Forest is made special by those who deposit a piece of themselves within it, as treasure for others to find. People like Tom, Chris, Amber, Emily, and Angie, who spend their time planning extraordinary experiences like the World’s Largest Group Hug, in Rothbury, for Electric Forest 2015.
“What you share with this world is what it keeps of you.” Noah & the Whale
As you prepare for this year’s journey to the Electric Forest, think of the effort made by people like Team Hug Life, and consider what offering, or piece of yourself you can deposit in the Forest to share with others.
“This has really been a dream come true for Team Hug Life as our mission statement is ‘To increase awareness in all of mankind. We aim to prove that every thought and deed, done in love and charity, will change the world. We will open arms to open hearts to open minds.'”
Together, each and every one of us at Electric Forest will open arms to open hearts to open minds.
We are going to make history at Electric Forest 2015, and need EVERYONE to be there to make history together!
The hug will take place Friday, June 26th at 2:30 PM EST. It will be on the schedules for the apps, and the paper schedule. There will also be notifications on the big screens in the Forest. For the Plug In Program’s biggest project yet, foresters will assemble at the Sherwood Court Stage in the thousands, with the goal of besting the current record of 10,554 participants. Come prepared to show the world all the love that holds us together, and that inspires us to move forward.
Just in case you were looking for one, This is Good Sign, and #ThisIsAGoodForest
When: Friday June 26, 2015 at 2:30PM EST
Where: Sherwood Court Stage, Rothbury, MI