The Awareness Village: Raising Consciousness at Mountain Jam

Showgoers who will be trekking up to Mountain Jam in Woodstock, NY at the end of the month might not have much time to take a break from a genre-hopping aural excursion with hosts Gov't Mule, Umphrey's McGee, the Allmans, hometown heroes Coheed and Cambria, The Hold Steady, Richie Havens and more. If they do, Melissa Eppard from Woodstock Wellness is ready to raise some consciousness in the Awareness Village.

The Awareness Village is a community for people to get spiritually and politically active, whether through crystal healing sessions with Micah (a healer traveling from Arkansas), photos and analysis of their energetic fields at the Aura'bout You booth, or by taking Headcount's "What's Your Issue?" survey.

Melissa Eppard, who directs the Awareness Village, sees the project as a means for people to slow down through spiritual growth, and to increase their focus on community by getting involved with organizations promoting sustainability and environmental health: "We're coming to the end of an age. Humanity's been growing at a very fast page and we can't continue to grow at this rate without reassessing the direction we're going. Sustainability is an absolute necessity -- we can't just keep using the amount of resources that we are, and must focus on how we can be responsible for ourselves on a local level."

If that sounds a little too relaxing, don't worry. There are belly-dancing performances -- with snakes. And lessons too. Naturally, I asked if the snakes were part of the lessons because that seemed a little advanced, but she reassured me that those are for the performances only.

HeadCount is cosponsoring an acoustic stage in the Awareness Village that will have smaller, more intimate sets by Mountain Jam performers, among them John Medeski and Melissa's personal favorite, Michael Franti.

"Michael Franti is someone who really walks his talk. Last year when Michael came out and played the Awareness Village, he talked about his experience playing in Iraq for soldiers. Everyone around him had tears in their eyes. It made me think 'This is why I'm doing this.'"

Mountain Jam runs from May 29th to May 31st. You can find out more about the Awareness Village here.