So, this is something that has been coming up for me more and more over the last year or so. For those of you who don't know me, I've lived on the road for the last 4 years, and a big part of that has been spent cooking for, speaking at, and working on the production team for dozens of these transformational events (conferences, festivals, retreats).
I am in no way making a claim that these events are not having a positive impact on the world, I have obviously seen a ton of value in them and dedicated much of the last 4 years to creating them.
Let's take a look at a few of these events and some very rough numbers.. Anywhere there is a potential range, I'm leaning towards the low end or the average.
- 2000 attendees @ $500 = $1,000,000
- 2000 round-trip flights @ $600 = $1,200,000 (sometimes WAY more)
- 1500 hotel rooms/AirBnBs @ $700 = $1,400,000 (The venue rooms were closer to $1500)
- 2000 x 3 meals/day x 4 days @ $10-15 = $300,000
- Arise Festival
- 15,000 attendees @ $200-300 = $3,750,000
- 15,000 x 3 meals/day x 3 days @$10-15 = $2,025,000
- This event is largely Colorado locals, so not too many flights
- Envision Festival
- 5000 attendees @ $380 = $1,900,000
- 5000 round-trip flights @ $800(+) = $4,000,000
So, just out of these three events, and certainly (no accounting for merchandise, sponsors, not taking into account all the costs, we're looking at about $16 million dollars... About $5,000,000 of which went straight to airline mega-corporations which certainly are not working to make the world better.
These are just a couple of the larger for-money events that the movement puts on, there are well over 100 of them I've found so far, and out of all of those events, only a small handful like The Rainbow Gathering & Jackalope Freedom Festival are not massive money sinks
With just some very rough estimates & quick math, we're looking at somewhere in the range of $250,000,000 a year spent on these weekend getaways. Any guess how much land could be bought for that? How many alternative schools could be built? How many community gardens could be started? How many 3D printers could be put into the hands of communities?
Showing How It Can Be Done
One of my goals with the event I've been planning, Be Empowered, has been to keep costs extremely low, while still providing an absolutely revolutionary & life-changing experience. The total budget this event is looking at (including sales & sponsors) is closer to $150,000, which includes food, lodging, and everything else.
As things have progressed, it's seeming like we might need to cancel the event. We've got about a week to come up with the down payment for the venue, and we are currently at a tiny tiny percent of that.
A few days ago I took a big step in laying out where all of this is, how I'm dealing with it, and asking for help... Then I ended up bed-ridden sick for the next 3 days. Coming out of that, I'm feeling quite at ease with whatever happens with the event, and also feeling a strong urge to start investing my own energy & time into things that are longer-lasting and more aligned with the world we are trying to create.
$250 million is a lot of money, every year there are more events, and generally the budget for these events goes up every year as well. What if, just for one year, all these events were on hiatus, and we instead funneled those resources to buying large swathes of land to create autonomous zones, building sea-steads, and creating all sorts of other enduring, publicly visible, resources? I know in most places a million dollars will get you at LEAST 1000 acres... The average community garden costs a couple thousand to build and rent could be gotten cheap... 3D printers for houses cost $10-20,000...
It just seems like if what we are going for is a new paradigm, a new economic model, and new way of being... consumerism, escapism, and supporting corporations is not the way to do it.