Press play below if you want to take a trip down memory lane with us...
As the first weeks of August come and go, heralding the end of Summer and a return to “life as usual”--earlier bedtimes and later sunrises, school runs and fewer unscheduled weekends, we’re letting our imaginations run wild with images of the Summer of ‘69, when over half a million people embarked on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near White Lake in upstate New York for “three days of peace and music”. To this day, the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival is remembered as a moment of unity, sharing, and intentional peace-making amidst a decade fraught with violence, segregation and divisiveness in light of the Vietnam War and the massive injustices that sparked the civil rights movement.
The overall ethos of Woodstock was summarized by Max Yasgur, the farmer who offered up his land for the festival when the original venue (in Woodstock, New York) fell through. Speaking directly to the audience of thousands, Yasgur said: “You’ve proven something to the world…the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids, and I call you kids because I have children who are older than you are, a half a million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music and God bless you for it!” Impressively, for an event with half a million attendees, there were no reported incidents of violence over the four days of Woodstock. Meals and shelter were shared among concert goers, medics and doctors donated their time to treat injuries, and harmonious vibes pervaded through rain, mud, and resource shortages.
Woodstock wasn’t only for rock and roll obsessed teenagers--many families camped out at the event, too--and a children’s playground was set up at the nearby Hog Farm near the medic tents. There were no reports of violence amongst the hundreds of thousands of festival goers during the four days and nights that people camped out on Max Yasgur’s farm, reveling in peace, love and music--proof that all the “good vibes” were actually working.
I was six years old when the festival first took place, and looking at photos of children at Woodstock reminds me of my own unconventional upbringing in Belfast, Maine in the 1960’s and 70’s. Inspired by the same values of peace, unity, and freedom that motivated many Woodstock-goers, my mother moved me and my two sisters from New York to Maine in search of a quieter, slower way of life that was more in tune with the Earth. In Belfast, we attended a “free school”--a growing trend in the 1960’s, led by pivotal figures like John Holt, that offered a more child-led, fluid, and holistic alternative to the rigid conventional school curriculum. Holt, author of the highly impactful critique of the school system, How Children Fail, was a huge proponent of the notion that true learning happens when children are able to explore, create, and innovate freely. At the free school my sisters and I passed our days gardening, baking bread, ice skating, making art and delighting in imaginative play.
It was during this time, surrounded by examples of community, simplicity, and nature, that I decided I want to be a midwife when I grew up, a decision that would ultimately lead me to the Peace Corps, where I provided medical and midwifery services to a small village in Guatemala. Towards the end of my time in Guatemala, my husband Mike and I welcomed our first son, Josh. When it came time to choose a school to send him to, I found resonance and familiarity in the Waldorf movement, its philosophy echoing that of my own early education at the free school.
It was those very same values of love, peace, unity, and uninhibited, childlike freedom that brought half a million people together at the Woodstock Music Festival, led parents like my mother to raise their families close to the Earth, and, twenty-five years later, inspired the birth of Sarah’s Silks! Those values are still at the very core of our company today, and we believe in them now more than ever. While we can look to the past and be inspired by the radical love in a time of fear that took place at Woodstock fifty years ago, it’s equally motivating to be in the present and see how each and every one of our customers are sowing the same seeds in their own children’s lives--modeling compassion, peace, and the power of individual expression in a political climate not entirely dissimilar from that of the 1960’s in terms of uncertainty, fear, and hostility.
It makes me so happy to see our customers taking their Sarah’s Silks with them as they help the spirit of Woodstock live on; whether it’s with dance parties in their living room, performing acts of kindness in their community, or letting joy run wild at a family-friendly music festival. It’s easy to get caught up in feeling like the world as it is now is a scary place to raise children, and surely every parent of every generation past has had the very same feeling. But, we believe in the power of play, the power of love, the power of coming as you are, ready to connect, create, and imagine a better world for everyone. We’re choosing to believe in a beautiful, bright future--and every time you reach out to us and share the small and big ways that your little one is growing, learning, and experiencing the world guided by joy and love, we get just that much more excited for it.
P.S. Everyone in our studio this week was feeling inspired with our Woodstock theme--we've been enjoying listening to our Woodstock 50th Anniversary playlist on Spotify while we work, and Josh even put together this beautiful "Back to the garden" video for all of you to enjoy:
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock from Sarah's Silks on Vimeo.