Evolving Community at Festivals: Jan Gerards

At festivals like Gratitude Migration, we pride ourselves on creativity, culture, collaboration, connection, consciousness - and community. But what does community mean, and how does that resonate differently depending on your surroundings - from urban environments to intentional festivals?

Community is everything to Jan Gerards. For the past several years, he has been working on a documentary, ‘Community: Social Evolution’ alongside his editor, Rocky Ramniceanu and one of the most pre-eminent authors in the intentional community world, Diana Leaf Christian. Gerards met Diana while visiting Emerald Village, an intentional community in Northern San Diego. Comprised of six families who consolidated resources and bought land together a few years ago, they were holding their annual gathering of about 100 people. This experience provided him the perfect bird’s-eye-view of a modern intentional community comprised of young adults across a variety of walks of life and perspectives without the ‘free-for-all’ 60s hippie vibe typically conjured up by the thought of communal living. This was different.

Since Gerards himself does not live in an intentional community, but is actively involved in a tight-knit social group in New York City, his approach is focused on targeting an audience OUTSIDE the world of intentional communities. For Diana, this served as the perfect bridge - she too liked the approach of targeting content towards those who do not have as much access to this concept of communal living, in order to showcase the living examples of people (just like them!) who had taken the steps to live in a more meaningful and connected way.

Diana now serves as the first official member of the advisory board for this project. As the team is building a board of folks from community organizations around the world, they are also reaching out to a variety of academics across fields - behavioral psychology, economics, psychology, anthropology. Through this interdisciplinary approach, the team is hoping to illustrate humanity’s tribal history - the concept that we were once tribal - but are now living a disconnected life, resulting in problems like over-consumption, consumerism, deforestation and abuse of natural resources. He hopes that by spreading the lessons he’s learning from intentional communities and dispersing this information to the masses, that people will be inspired to take on a richer, more connected approach to life.

 Photo by Eraj Asadi

Photo by Eraj Asadi

What festivals like Burning Man and Gratitude Migration offer is a place to exchange information with like-minded individuals from different walks of life and different perspectives. When we can make connections, it serves as a cauldron of ideas and innovation, sparking new ideas. This is the great opportunity to prove the value of connection.

I, for one, walk away from experiences like this with a great sense of soul nourishment. I love seeing these kinds of experiences where people feel more connected with one another, and leave feeling rejuvenated.
— Jan Gerards

So how will Jan Gerards be exploring community at Gratitude Migration: Summer Dream 2016? First of all, he is eager to tap into the learnings to be discovered at the School of Dreams, a first this year which will showcase short Ted-style talks from visionaries and entrepreneurs who will highlight to guests how to create change - in your life, and in the world.

“I’m really excited to listen in on the lectures, particularly David Block’s ‘Anatomy of Creativity’ and Michael Zaytsev’s ‘Fueling Your Fire with Gratitude’ talk. 

I’m curious to experience how this sharing of knowledge will spark innovation and inspire others to do something in their own communities to create positive change.

You can catch Jan and Rocky who will be speaking on the ‘Community: Social Evolution’ panel at the School of Dreams at 5:45PM on Saturday.

 Image by Tico (pictured)

Image by Tico (pictured)

When an individual incorporates the mindset of gratitude in one’s own perception of life, it becomes powerful in raising one’s mood and vibration, and offers the ability to rewire oneself. Gerards adds, 

“I’m deeply inspired by the concept of “Gratitude”. With the feeling of gratefulness at the epicenter of this festival, I look forward to seeing people gather in an energetic exchange of this emotion. In general, gratitude as a feeling resonates with me because of it the way it can be utilized to transform one’s outlook on life. I’m particularly excited to see how it permeates throughout the weekend’s experience. And to top that off, being on the beach - what a nice way to enjoy the music, the people, and the art!”


When utilized mindfully, advanced technology has the capacity to create a more amplified shared experience, which creates a stronger, more connected bond between individuals. “With Immersion NYC, the technology events production company I founded with my partner, Josh Dominati, our ethos is rooted in creating a shared experience to deeply connect us,” Gerards explains. “Fusing advanced 3D projection technology, and augmented and virtual reality, we immerse participants in an environment that is enmeshes all of our senses. This stimulating environment heightens our experience.”

“At Gratitude, I’ll be representing Immersion with a VJ set alongside other incredible VJs - curating visuals designed to pull the perception of the audience in such a way that they feel even more connected to their experience. By tapping into the environment around them, technology has the ability to amplify their perception and create even stronger memories.”

Community ties and strong memories. Exactly the reason why we’re gathering this weekend.

Written by Dionisia Hatzis