Five Questions For Bonnaroo Sustainability Coordinator Laura Sohn

p1000029 What’s your role with Bonnaroo and how did you come to hold this position?

I’m the festival’s Sustainability Coordinator. The festival has had a long commitment to greening and sustainability and worked with outside consultants for years. As the greening efforts grew they realized the importance of having someone involved in the day-to-day, year-round operations of the festival. I was working as an assistant to one of the promoters and the transition made sense.

Planet Roo is probably the largest nonprofit vendor village at any festival. What can we expect to find in Planet Roo this year?

Planet Roo is going to be really exciting this year. We’ll be welcoming back the now almost famous Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders, who will work with everyone to reduce their carbon footprints. We will have the first-ever Bonnaroo Victory Garden, which will be supplemented with gardening and composting workshops. And, as always, Rock the Earth’s Social Change Through Music program will be featured on Bonnaroo’s Solar Stage.

How many nonprofits are you able to accommodate at Bonnaroo each year?

We are able to accommodate about 20 nonprofits a year in Planet Roo. We like having groups back for multiple years as it gives them an opportunity to develop a real relationship with the fans.

You clearly devote serious resources to Planet Roo and cause-related activity at Bonnaroo. What’s the thinking behind that? I mean, promoting a festival is a business. How does Planet Roo and supporting non-profits fit in with that?

Bonnaroo has always looked for innovative ways to engage both fans and artists to support a variety of worthy and necessary causes in their community. Working with groups that further the causes most important to the festival is an integral component to how we do business. Planet Roo began with basic tabling and over the years has grown to reflect Bonnaroo’s business values, beyond the bottom line.

Not only do you support nonprofits by welcoming them to Planet Roo, you also generate funds for some causes via the annual silent auction. Can you tell us a bit more about that and what fans can expect to find up for bid?

Bonnaroo generates funds to support a variety of nonprofits in multiple ways. The silent auction is a key component along with $1 from each ticket purchased. All of the funds generated are contributed to the newly established Bonnaroo Works Fund, which aims to support national and regional organizations making their communities healthy through arts and education, sustainability, economic development, and healthcare. The Bonnaroo Works fund is committed to local reinvestment and asset building for the community we work in as well as fans, artists, and the industry.

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