Outside Lands Windmill -- recycle, compost, trash.
All Photos: Wendy Goodfriend
Outside Lands, now in it's fourth year, drew nearly 180,000 visitors this past weekend. I was one of them. On Saturday morning, as I walked along a dirt path through Lindley Meadow into a eucalyptus grove with parachutes and rope swings dangling from the trees, I thought of how this seemed a cross between Burning Man and the board game Candy Land. Ok, Outside Lands was fifty degrees cooler than Burning Man and it's in the middle of Golden Gate Park, rather than the desert. Still, the music festival has this collective feel where everyone comes together to appreciate artistic expression, be it music, food, wine or other artistic endeavors. Then, everyone leaves the land no worse for wear, hopefully. In fact, this was the most organized compost and recycling program I have ever seen at a big outdoor event.
Outside Lands also has this feeling that everything happening on the periphery is just as interesting as the bigger events, whether they are major rock bands or pyrotechnic shows. And just like Candy Land, curvy dirt paths take you from one fun land to the next. Instead of Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain you have Food Truck Forest, Choco Lands, Wine Lands and Eco Lands. Wander down a dirt path away from the polo fields, which hosted the likes of Phish and Arcade Fire, and you might end up, as I did, amidst cypress and eucalyptus trees watching a tiny carny opera with mime faced performers dressed in kilts playing Appalachian ballads and doing their own version of the River Dance. Before the opera I visited Eco Lands, which honors San Francisco's commitment to sustainability, with all sorts of educational booths, valet bike parking and emerging artists performing on a solar powered stage. This year introduced urban agriculture to Outside Lands with yet another land to discover, Farm Lands. Here you could play games like "Veggie Twister," take an urban gardening class and munch on organic watermelon slices from Full Belly Farms.