Celebrating Community: Local Music Festivals and Sustainable Relocalization in Southern Manitoba
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Sustainable relocalization aims to increase resilience and wellbeing in local communities as a response to interrelated social-ecological threats emerging on a global-scale. This grassroots social and environmental movement requires place-based identity, local social capital, post-consumer values, skills and knowledge for community self-reliance, participation in local alternative economic activities, and ultimately the transformation of culture and human behavior. Previous research indicates that festivals can influence sense of place and shared identity, political consciousness and cultural values, and local economic development. This thesis fills a gap in the literature by investigating the ability of community-based music festivals to support grassroots relocalization. While most research concerning festivals and sustainability falls within liberal environmental discourses, this thesis operates from a radical standpoint. It responds to an emerging trend among some types of arts festivals and agricultural celebrations that appear to be reflecting a vision of a post-consumer, post-industrial society. Looking specifically at community-based festivals in southern Manitoba, this research examines how such events can foster eco-localist values and shared identity as well as support knowledge, practices and economic innovations associated with local resilience. Both of these case studies, the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Harvest Moon Festival, appear capable of fostering shared identity among communities of place and practice, social networks and capital, skills and knowledge, and cultural values. As liminal spaces, these festivals offer opportunities for participants to strengthen social bonds and experience communal forms of living while the event communities may enable public education and social movement action. Opportunities and limitations for contributing to relocalization depend largely on a festival’s size, design, organizational mission, and involvement of community stakeholders. This research confirms much of what is known regarding the community-building capacities of festivals while considering how these benefits relate to radical shifts toward local sustainability. Strategic research approaches are needed to further assess the lasting impacts of community festivals on local economies, cultures, and human behaviour with respect to relocalization.