The Potential Energy of Culture Camp

The air is stirring. Leaves rustle as kids run; fiddle music echoes through the tents. As food vendors arrive and workers put the final touches on the stages, the GrassRoots setup nears completion.

In the final day of Culture Camp , there seems to be an ongoing dialogue of inclusivity. The music has inspired, or perhaps just magnified, an eagerness to share stories and perspectives. In a workshop titled “The Spirit of the Native American Drum” led by the Jones Benally family, people discussed the unifying nature of dance and the drum’s ability to calm the mind. These workshops have turned into more than just lessons—they’re havens of productive conversations.

Keith Secola, who has been performing at GrassRoots since 1997, described Culture Camp as potential energy just waiting to be shared.

“It adds the opportunity to sharpen your wits,” he said. “You’ve got to learn how to endure without the same kind of thinkers as you. You have to learn how to become a teacher. Culture camp kind of gives people the roots and means to sharpen your skills a little bit.”

By tomorrow, over 20,000 people will flood these fairgrounds. Though the intimacy of Culture Camp will dissipate, the kickoff of GrassRoots promises new type of community.

Culture Camp has given us connections to hold onto as we brace ourselves for the intensity of GrassRoots. As I weave through the crowds this weekend, I look forward to recognizing friendly faces who were strangers just a few days ago.

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