Woods & Wilds Festival; and, Why We Love Forests


Woods & Wilds Festival; and, Why We Love Forests

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    Asheville Grit is what Asheville has to say. It's a free-form, curated forum for Ashevillians to submit blog posts on music, art, food and drink, opinions on local things and more. Contact us if you...
Woods & Wilds

This Sunday marks the return of the Woods & Wilds Storytelling and Music Festival, an annual event from Dogwood Alliance that also benefits that organization. Dogwood has been working for for over 20 years to preserve Southern forests and work against forces worsening climate change and environmental degradation. The festival brings renowned storytellers together to celebrate forests and draw attention to cultural and environmental issues. The day also includes live music, a raffle, special announcements and prizes, and more.

Dogwood's current campaigns focus on areas like Richmond County, a North Carolina region where Enviva is currently trying to build a wood pellet factory. Money raised from Sunday's festival will go to support their efforts in Richmond County and other areas to combat biomass, the burning of wood for energy. The practice, which mostly happens in Europe at the moment, was wrongly asserted to be climate-neutral. Because of the rise in biomass for fuel, forests, particularly in the South, are being destroyed at an alarming rate, and rural communities in the South are disproportionately affected. 

The "Our Forests Aren't Fuel" campaign will be one focus of Sunday's festival, but there's a whole lot more on the schedule. The family-friendly event will feature storytelling from Dogwood's founder, Danna Smith, as well as from Cole Rasenberger, Roy HarrisDr. Thomas RaShad Easley, Pastor Cary Rodgers, and headlining storyteller Lianna Costantino, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma who works with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee who will be sharing stories about the Trail of Tears and her experiences at Standing Rock.Storyteller Lianna Constantino

Musical sets will be interspersed throughout the day and into the evening, and will include Sherri Lynn and Mountain Friends, Easley (who will return for a short hip-hop set), Dub Cartel, Threadbare Skivvies, the Get Right Band, and headliner LYRIC

The day's activities don't just end with music and storytelling. Inner Wild Yoga will lead a yoga practice, and local instructor Erin Fowler, of Inspired Change Yoga, will lead a kids' yoga session at 3:30 p.m. LEAF Community Arts will spearhead an outdoor activity area. There will also be a raffle for a Perception Jetty 11' stand-up paddleboard donated by Diamond Brand Outfitters, and a gift certificate for a 6-mile French Broad River trip from French Broad Outfitters. Raffle tickets will be sold at the event, and are $5 each, or 3 for $10. 

Dogwood is asking for a $10 donation for entry to the event, with a discount for families. The day begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m., and you'll be able to enjoy all of the delicious food and drink at Salvage Station over the course of the festivities. 

To get you even more excited about Woods & Wilds, we asked a few friends of the Grit to share a little bit about why they love forests:

You know the feeling that washes over you when you're out in the forest? It's as if everything is alive again, as if you've left the buzz of the machines, the blinking screens, the rumbling of engines and demands for attention. You find quiet and the warm calm of the canopy envelopes you, creating a safe space for you to breathe, for you to run and ride and sweat, for you to gaze longingly at mushroom caps and tree trunks and river beds. In the forest, the inherent magic of evolution and of nature lies waiting, like your oldest and truest friend. In the forest, it all makes sense. 



—Tiffany Narron, writer

As soon as my feet step on the soft forest ground, there is an immediate sense of being held, of being grounded and connected, yet ethereal and vast all at the same time. Cocooned in the safety of towering trees, nourished by the life and energy surrounding me, comforted by the almost deafening silence...there is a reason time spent with mother earth can help ease so much of the stress of daily living. I am incredibly grateful for the life and love she gives so freely. May we be good stewards of her gifts.

— Amanda Hale, co-creator, Asheville Yoga Festival

Forests are one of my greatest sources of inspiration in all aspects of life. I make music, and a good portion of it is dedicated to inspiration provided from getting immersed in the woods. There is something mystical about spending time in nature; it always has me coming back feeling more connected and balanced. Forests are vital for life.

— Koresma (Ryan Lindberg), musician

Growing up in California, I first fell in love with the huge red wood trees as a child and that love for trees and nature only expanded after moving to the Carolinas and exploring the beauty that surrounds us here. I'm fascinated with the idea of food forests and edible landscaping, nowadays being connected with nature  is seen as "hippy" behaviour when it should be seen as "human" behaviour.

As we all know, our plant ecosystem gives us the oxygen carbon exchange we need to survive on this Earth. Plus, watching trees grow strong and tall with little or no help from mankind gives us the perfect example of what is necessary to help plants grow in our own backyards. I first noted this observation while watching the documentary 'Back To Eden.' Trees have been on this planet longer than any human, and it is our duty to ensure that we nurture our ecosystem and stay mindful to how we are taking from it and ensuring that using the resources available is not causing irreversible damage to it.

— SIYAH (Isa Whitaker), hip-hop artist,  Community Garden Network Coordinator at Bountiful Cities

We'll see you out at the Salvage Station this Sunday for a day filled with Woods & Wilds!