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Scenes from the Awakening Festival

Organizers and volunteers took a bow after the first Awakening Festival in Hudson, Quebec, on June 18.

Organizers and volunteers took a bow after the first Awakening Festival in Hudson, Quebec, on June 18.

It was, in at least a decade of retrospection, one of the most amazing events in terms of tenor, aim and ambiance that I’ve attended.

The Awakening Festival, held this past Saturday in Hudson, Quebec — the birthplace of the natural lawn movement in North America — set out to show us that everything is connected. It left us feeling as if the whole world should feel that way.

Organizers Lianne Bridges and Debbie Must picked the timing of the festival to honor the 20th anniversary of Hudson’s historic ban on lawn chemicals, as well as the 10th anniversary of the Canadian Supreme Court decision that validated the town’s actions. They brought me in as keynote speaker to give the Hudson case the international acclaim it has since deserved.

This festival, however, reached way beyond lawns and into the mind, body and spirit of souls who hope to make positive changes in all aspects of life. The day was filled with tapestry, literally and figuratively, and radiance, from both the gorgeous weather and well-meaning people.

“The world is going through unprecedented change — natural and environmental disasters, economic and political instability,” wrote Bridges and Must, two business professionals and mothers who want to make a difference in their communities. “By bringing together the elements that we cherish most in our lives — family, wellness, community, nature, spirit and culture — we can help each other awaken to our deeper purpose and learn to thrive in these very challenging times.”

The Awakening Festival's Lianne Bridges (second from right) and Go Green Hudson's Debbie Reynolds (center) honored Hudson Mayor Michael Elliott, left, Paul Tukey and Dr. June Irwin for advancing the cause of lawn pesticide reduction in North America.

The Awakening Festival’s Lianne Bridges (second from right) and Go Green Hudson’s Debbie Reynolds (center) honored Hudson Mayor Michael Elliott, left, Paul Tukey and Dr. June Irwin for advancing the cause of lawn pesticide reduction in North America.

Across the board the presenters were riveting in both their delivery and idealism. Authors Ted Carter and Ellen Gunter, who wrote the new release titled Reunion: How We Heal Our Broken Connection to the Earth, described how Carter’s landscape practices focus not just on aesthetics, but also on spirituality. Holistic psychologist Stephane Bensoussan mesmerized the audience with simple techniques to connect with other people. And banker Martine Irman, a senior executive at TD Bank in Toronto, talked about the importance of community support.

It was a 16-year-old and a singer who stole the show, however. Lindsay Peets wowed the audience with her unscripted poise and tales of her volunteerism in Africa. She was instrumental in founding the Bridge to Burundi project to help underprivileged children.

The singer, meanwhile, was the stunning Kathleen Bolton. The young mother opened the event with an operatic number that sounded as if it were straight from the heavens and continued to sing more contemporary inspirational songs throughout the day. Jaws literally dropped and faces flushed with every note this woman uttered.

No, she had never put out an album, she said, but I was able to find this sampling of her songs on-line: http://www.thejetset.ca/index.php?option=com_jukebox&view=category&id=5&Itemid=2.

With everything from wildlife protection, to community leadership, to nature and music, it was difficult to choose from the afternoon workshops. Students involved with the Bridge to Burundi project topped the day off with a rousing concert.

It was, in a word, one of those “Wow” moments in life that happen too infrequently. The concept of an Awakening Festival might have seemed vague going in . . . but driving back to the states fully invigorated only left me wanting more.

Singer Kathleen Bolton and guitarist Roger Mann perform at the Awakening Festival

Singer Kathleen Bolton and guitarist Roger Mann perform at the Awakening Festival

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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  • http://www.awakeningfestival.org Lianne Bridges

    Thanks Paul. From a man who does over 100 speaking engagements a year, that means a lot!! We were so glad that you were able to join us…the event would not have been the same without Hudson’s #1 advocate and cheerleader!

    Have a great and green summer!

    Lianne

  • http://awakeningfestival.org Alison Cummings

    Paul,

    Wow! As one of the Awakening Festival volunteers, just have to say how well you captured the spirit of the event – from the organizers, to the speakers, workshop leaders and participants. It was indeed an amazing day, and I feel lucky to have been part of it.

    So nice to meet you, and I know your presence at the Festival made a big impression on those who heard you speak.

    Best,
    Alison

    aka “the hallway dodger”

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