Port Gamble: the town you’ve never heard of

flickr:Chuck PefleyChances are you’ve never heard of Port Gamble. It’s the oldest city in Washington state, it’s one of the few company owned towns left, there is evidence to suggest it’s haunted, and it’s the future home of Seven Sounds. Now you know.

I curate events. It typically starts with a beautiful place, then the event idea and theme follow. In the case of Seven Sounds it was the opposite. What came first was the need for a festival of this magnitude, then the challenge of finding a location. My first choice was Fort Flagler.

As a state park governed by state rules, the Fort Flagler administration denied my request. Their concern was related to the basic park governing rules of providing access to park facilities on a first-come-first served basis for camping and day-use only, and that a my proposal would infringe on their offering. My vision was beyond camping and day-use and regarded the legacy of the parks system. I believe people who use the park are interested in furthering land preservation and stewardship of these spaces for generations to come, and what this requires is exponentially more people be exposed to these places. It’s hard not to stand for something you’ve had a positive experience within. I was offering more exposure to the park in one weekend than it would see in a whole season.


Just short of writing the state legislature, one of the Seven Sounds planning committee members put a bug in my ear about Port Gamble, and then pulled me to the realization that even if we could get past Go with the park for a use agreement, it wouldn’t be enough because there would be other questions along the way, that what we needed to be successful ultimately is people and places equally yolked to bring solutions to make the best festival this side of the sound. That’s what we found at Port Gamble.

When you find the a match in people and places, you know it because your heart sings. It’s that magic where you come with a little spark and leave with more light than you imagined. You may find me at Port Gamble regularly now, walking the greens with a measuring stick on wheels, grabbing a pint at Scratch Kitchen, or meeting the people one by one. I used to say, place didn’t matter over people, but I hadn’t considered how a place can make the people too.


Listening: Bohemian Like You by The Dandy Warhols

We are not like the social insects. They have only the one way of doing things and they will do it forever, coded for that way. We are coded differently, not just for binary choices, go or no-go. We can go four ways at once, depending on how the air feels: go, no-go, but also maybe, plus what the hell let’s give it a try. We are in for one surprise after another if we keep at it and keep alive. We can build structures for human society never seen before, thoughts never thought before, music never heard before.” – Lewis Thomas




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