Culture and Vision:
Fern Fest is a music focused festival specifically curated to drive connection and foster community and belonging. Fern Fest aims to expand the music genres represented on the land, engage new performers across the country, bring the experience of the land to more women and re-energize those who attended festivals in the past. We feel committed to honoring the tradition of the land which holds sacred space for women and girls and provides the opportunity for healing connection and growth.The Land:
The Land is 650 acres of pristine undeveloped woods, open meadows and fields of ferns. It was home to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (michfest.com
) for nearly forty years, and is now a venue for multiple smaller women’s events every summer. The Land is a site of profound historical, spiritual, and emotional significance because of its deep association with this event that incubated, created, and held lesbian and women’s culture in the United States and beyond for four decades.
After the final Michigan’s Womyn’s Music Festival in 2015, a determined and dedicated group of women formed the nonprofit WWTLC (We Want The Land Coalition) with the vision of securing and preserving this sacred land for women and girls for years to come. In 2017, WWTLC entered into a contract to purchase the land from former festival producer, Lisa Vogel. Fueled by countless volunteer hours of fundraising, visioning, and work on The Land, WWTLC hosted their first successful summer of events in 2019. The second, extra celebratory season of events took place in summer of 2021. WWTLC continues to raise funds in order to pay off the land contract by 2025. With every successful event, WWTLC furthers their mission of providing women and girls with unique programs, events, and experiences that celebrate women’s history, promote healing and empowerment, build women’s community, and encourage education and growth. For more information about WWTLC, please visit wwtlc.org
Commitment to Race Equity and Anti-Racism:
As Fern Fest organizers, we are committed to the learning and unlearning required to dismantle white supremacy and live out our anti-racism values. We have work to do as individuals and as a community that aspires to create a safer environment for women of color. Our anti-racism commitment is as much a statement about who we aspire to be as it is a call to action for us as organizers and everyone attending Fern Fest. Those of us who are white identified, including members of the organizing team, have a greater responsibility to lean into this work.
What does this look like? Fern Fest is curated to reflect the broad diversity of our community and this is represented by the racial diversity of the organizers, performers, programming, staff and volunteers.
Fern Fest commits to providing women of color spaces, organized by and for women of color as well as other spaces for conversation about dismantling racism at the structural, interpersonal and personal levels.
What does this feel like? Fern Fest endeavors to focus on the impact and outcomes of our choices, decisions and actions. Being an accountable community means we will seek out feedback about the experience of the BIPOC community at Fern Fest, acknowledge harms, and work to repair and adapt our approach in response to feedback.
Commitment to Accessibility:
Accessibility at Fern Fest for the Deaf /HOH and women with disabilities community is a priority. We will provide interpreters for all live music performances along with some visual art throughout the festival. We will capture as much communication in writing as possible via signs and centralized message boards. WWTLC has worked diligently to improve the physical accessibility of the land by providing paved and rubber mat paths. We welcome feedback on how we can continue to support ongoing improvements.
Gender and Language:
Fern Fest is a women’s festival that is intentionally inclusive of all cis, trans, and non-binary women. Language is important and we’d like to speak to the intention behind the language we have chosen to describe Fern Fest and the space we are creating.Why “women”?
While we honor the history of our community reclaiming “women” and transforming it into “womyn, womxn, wimmin etc.” as a way to decentralize men from our collective identity and/or specify inclusion for trans folks, Fern Fest embraces the term “women” to include all who identify and live in the experience of being a woman.
We are dedicated to the sometimes messy work of learning and stretching our understanding of language to ensure Fern Fest is affirming for those whose identity does not align with binary gender definitions. Increasing our awareness around pronouns and other gendered language is one way we can center inclusion within our community. Trans, non-binary and other individual identities and expressions of gender under the umbrella of “women” belong at Fern Fest.
Because we know that every person’s gender identity is unique and how someone connects to a community that is defined by gender may vary, we support individual assessments regarding their identification with this event. If you have questions and would like to speak to an event organizer, please contact us at [email protected]
One of the core tenets of the vision for Fern Fest is to create an experience where all people can feel safe to show up as authentic individuals. This means building trust within our community, being aware of how our actions impact others and holding ourselves accountable to community guidelines that foster that environment.
Fern Fest has a zero tolerance policy for violence, harassment, hate speech and/or any other behavior that threatens the safety and wellbeing of any community member. Those who violate this policy will be removed from the festival without refund. Fern Fest reserves the right to deny entry to anyone based on this policy and/or community guidelines.
Be open. Be kind. Be respectful.For those of us with white, cis and other dominant identity privilege…
No matter where you are in your individual journey of anti-oppression (racism/white supremacy, transphobia, ableism etc.) everyone on The Land has a role to play in our collective anti-oppression work and is responsible for their actions. So many of us feel drawn to women’s spaces and festival culture because of the safety and healing it can bring. It is important to also acknowledge that not everyone in our community is afforded the same privilege. If you are given the gift of feedback that something you said or did has impacted someone negatively, aim to center the experience of the person harmed, especially when they are BIPOC, trans, and/or other marginalized identity or ability status. Utilize the CPR Reparative Response Model* – C
alm Yourself, P
ractice Humility and R
*Created by Kira Manser, Jaymie Campbell & Shannon Crintini www.accessmatters.org/cpr-the-racial-microaggressions-reparative-response-model/
(geared towards racial microaggressions but applicable for all identity difference)