Rothbury Music FestivalPhoto: kuba425 via FlickrWhile your standard summer music festival may consider its primary mission to be “rocking out,” the Rothbury Music Festival being held this weekend in Michigan states its purpose to be “harnessing the spirit of the music festival community into a durable social movement.” Then again, Rothbury isn’t your standard summer music festival.

The festival organizers consider it a “party with a purpose,” and for the most part, that purpose — as showcased by their greening initiatives and educational events — is sustainability. Now, this is not to say there won’t be rocking out; headliners this year include The Dead, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson. But their artist line-up isn’t the only star-studded guest list.

Rothbury Think Tank logoThe Rothbury Think Tank — “an event within the event” — will include panel discussions, workshops, and town-hall-style gatherings, all focused on solutions for the emerging “new green economy.” And the lineup of scientists, political leaders, youth activists, and artists includes luminaries like Energy Action Coalition founder (and Grist contributor) Billy Parish, Michigan Congressman Dan Scripps (D), Mayor George Heartwell (of Grand Rapids, Mich.), and um, me!

I’ll be participating on two panels, sharing my thoughts on “voting for change with your everyday actions” and “getting involved in the new green economy.” (If you’ll be at the festival, check me out on Friday and Saturday from 12:30-1:45 p.m.)

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In addition to the Think Tank events, Rothbury will also be taking a number of steps to green operations. They’ll be using compostable dishware, choosing alternative energy sources where available, employing an “around-the-clock” green team to assist with recycling/compost efforts, offsetting what can’t be reduced, donating to the local community, and more. (A six-star operation, according to our scoring chart of festivals past.)

But as now-Grist-staffer Jonathan Hiskes noted during Rothbury’s inaugural festival last year, there’s always room to improve. Once I’m done with my speaking commitments, I’ll be putting on my reporter hat and asking the sustainability folks what they learned from last year’s festival, what more they wish they could have done this year, and … whether they can get me backstage.

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