Electric Forest (EF) – together with non-profit partner To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) and EF2017 performer Bassnectar – released a video in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and National Suicide Prevention Week (September 10 – September 16). The video, titled “Your Story is Important,” features footage captured during EF2017 – where EF community members roaming the festival’s Sherwood Forest answered a ringing telephone. On the other end of the line was a new friend who, unbeknownst to the person picking up the phone, was EF fan favorite Lorin Ashton, AKA Bassnectar. Lorin remained anonymous and asked questions about friendships, family, and hope. “Your Story is Important” highlights some of those heartfelt conversations, and offers a poignant reminder that we all matter, that pain and doubt and hope are all shared experiences, and that we can – and need to – support each other through darkness. Watch the video here: ElectricForestFestival.com/TWLOHA
“It’s amazing what can happen when we, as humans, are open to understanding our connectedness,” says EF Founder / Producer and President of Madison House Presents Jeremy Stein. “And I don’t mean that to sound sappy, it’s just so real. At EF we strive to use music, art and community to really inspire us to nurture our sense of connectedness. That’s when the magic happens. And I do feel like these moments were magic. They helped create an open dialogue about things that matter – and that dialogue, however difficult it might seem, heightens our opportunity for an individual and collective experience of love and light and joy.”
“There is this indescribable moment when you first wander through the Sherwood Forest when you realize you’re not alone,” said Pasquale Rotella, Founder and CEO of Insomniac. “You are completely surrounded by a community of open-minded people who are excited to connect and share their experience with you. It’s not easy opening up to people you don’t know, especially when it comes to deeply personal matters, but it’s amazing to see what the power of human connection and compassion can do. Everyone deserves to be loved.”
“Electric Forest strikes me as one of the most brilliant celebrations of life there is,” says To Write Love on Her Arms’ Chad Moses. “That’s not because the people at EF lack questions or pain, but because there is a willingness to share whatever they have, be it heavy or light. This experiment really found its depth and value in that sense of sharing; in the asking and responding to questions, and the discovering of common ground. It was about people finding a place for their hearts to land, and a lasting reminder that life is meant to be shared. It serves as proof that every story – YOUR story – is important.”
First time EF attendee Susan answered one of those ringing telephones. The conversation that followed is captured in “Your Story is Important.” Within minutes of talking to her interviewer, she found herself sharing the recent loss of her cousin to suicide. Months after that conversation, Susan recalls “It was one of the most cathartic releases I’ve perhaps ever had. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty and love I recognized all around me. I felt my cousin with me.” Susan continued, “Today, I feel like I have been able to release a lot of pain associated with my cousin’s death. It feels like a weight was lifted, and that brightness was given back to me and I’m able to move forward.”
Bassnectar, who has performed at Electric Forest 6 times since the festival’s inception in 2011, was also deeply moved by his conversations with Susan and other Forest Family who picked up the phone. As Lorin recently told Westword Magazine,
“What I noticed [at Electric Forest], which was really striking to me, is that it is one of the most fun festivals of the year to play at… it’s just always so ridiculously fun. But what I noticed is that even though it was so fun, it wasn’t the highlight of my weekend. What the highlight of my weekend was volunteering inside of this little treehouse in the middle of the woods… I was this old-timey switchboard, and I had an old-timey headset on, and I’d basically see a light pop up, which meant that there was someone at a phone, and I could ring it. Or I could just ring a phone until someone picked it up, and then I would talk to them. I was slotted to do it for an hour, and it was literally four hours past, and they were literally pulling me out.
When I walked away, I was like, that was so much more fun than playing a set. That was so much more fun than making music. People were wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and they were crying, and talking about suicide and losing their friends, just deep principles of life. I was marveling at that…at this place in my life that I never intended to get to — I’m almost forty years old — having this dreamlike music career, what stands out to me is just getting to visit with some people and talk about life and death with strangers.”
Art collective The Grand Artique created the phone system for “Your Story is Important” by modifying a 1960’s telephone switchboard to connect 10 phones. Within the heart of the Grand Artique’s multistory, treehouse art installation & venue – a long time, ever evolving feature of EF’s Sherwood Forest – a secret room held the switchboard, and concealed its operator. Throughout EF2017, the phones allowed patrons to call each other, or to speak with a hidden operator. Bassnectar, The Floozies and others participated as hidden operators. “In each of our installations our goal is to reach as many people as we can and to increase their opportunities to interact with their environment,” says The Grand Artique’s Westley Thornton. “With Electric Forest we found both an effective system for delivery and an audience with open hearts and minds and a willingness to pick up the phone, so to speak. It wasn’t until we brought the telephones on line that we realized the full potential of this device to connect with our fellow random humans.”
“Suicide, and the moments of despair that lead to suicide, happens to all walks of life, to all kinds of families in all kinds of situations,” Susan reflects. “It’s not a dark secret that should be locked away. The more we talk about it, the more we can help and maybe prevent it from happening.”
Anyone who is looking for support or resources for the mental health & well-being of themselves or a loved one, is invited to visit TWLOHA.com/find-help.