By Elizabeth McGuire
When the ACL Music Festival opens its gates at Zilker Park in October and welcomes 75,000 visitors a day, two Austinites will be trusted with making those visitors feel at home. As leaders of the C3 Presents Guest Services Program, Farid Mosher and Emily Sorlie are the Hosts with the Most. But the way they tell it, their job is not only about being a good host, but also being a good guest.
“Guest Services oversees all the different amenities we can offer our guests,” explained Mosher, “but the other component is that we are also guests ourselves. We look to create programing that supports our hosts, such as the Austin Parks Foundation, the venues we work with, the city we live in, and the environment we all share.”
ACL Music Festival's Rock & Recycle Program
With the help of countless people, they accomplish this huge task through volunteer programs, sustainability efforts, composting initiatives, bike services, and the Rock & Recycle program, which is presented by Austin Parks Foundation.
“Rock & Recycle is our most well-known program and our largest fan engagement piece,” said Mosher. “The program motivates guests to participate in ACL Music Festival’s and APF’s greening initiatives by collecting recyclables from the grounds in exchange for festival swag.”
Rock & Recycle participation has increased every year, and in 2018 it attracted more than 7,900 participants over the two weekends—more than twice the number from the previous year. Thanks to ACL Music Festival fans, volunteers and staff, 112 tons of recycling and 16 tons of composting were diverted from landfills after last year’s event.
Over the years, Rock & Recycle has become a more immersive experience, with custom designed art on the bins, live painting on site and specially designed T-shirts as the giveaway. “The program has become more than just collecting recyclables,” said Sorlie. “It’s an experience that brings together the whole community around the parks.”
When Mosher and Sorlie are not working on C3 events, they are often enjoying local parks. Sorlie, who moved from Boston two years ago, appreciates the diverse mix of green spaces in Austin. “I love the variety of outdoor spaces: greenbelts, urban parks, dog parks…there’s something for everyone.”
When Mosher moved to Austin, he decided the best way to familiarize himself with his new neighborhood was to adopt a nearby park and lead volunteer clean-ups and events there. “I love that parks bring people together and create a sense of community. My neighborhood continues to evolve, but the central piece of it is Springdale Park. For me, it’s been a place I can go with my dog to meet people and see my neighbors on a daily basis.”
Both Mosher and Sorlie appreciate how their personal interests overlap with their professional aspirations, especially when it comes to parks.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of our job is that we get to be a part of bringing people together for an experience that they will cherish. Those are the same things that the parks are trying to do. Even though a festival might be on a grand scale as far as a community gathering, it’s the same concept of being outside and enjoying a space with other people.”
Here's How You Can Help Austin's Parks
Here at APF, we strive to provide high-quality parks for every Austinite. Our parks biggest challenge is their funding. Our parks are vastly underfunded, so important projects and maintenance cannot be completed despite the wonderful work of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Austin is synonymous with it's parks, trails and green spaces like Zilker Park, Barton Creek Greenbelt, Mount Bonnell and many more, but our parks need your help. Here's how you can help Austin parks in your own way:
VOLUNTEER IN THE PARKS
We have many volunteer opportunities in Austin's parks such as our First Saturday open volunteer projects. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities here!
MAKE A DONATION TO APF
Your financial contribution helps us fund improvements, maintenance and innovative programming like Little Hummingbird Society. Click here to make a donation today!
ADVOCATE FOR AUSTIN'S PARKS
Communicating the importance of Austin's parks to those who can make a difference is a big part of what we do at APF. Raise your voice and advocate for our parks here!