In today's political climate, it is an absolute necessity for each and every American to rise up, #resist, and vote. That's why we're stoked to be teaming up with HeadCount at the BUST Holiday Craftacular. Spearheaded by the talented Morgan Howard, HeadCount will be registering voters at our event all weekend long! Here, BUST Craftacular co-ordinator Janeth Gonda chats up Ms. Howard about using the power of music to get out the vote.
Tell me a bit about HeadCount and the work you do, specifically with musicians.
HeadCount is a grassroots organization that uses the power of music to inspire participation in democracy. We engage music fans where they already are—at shows and festivals across the U.S.—to instill one message, "Make your voice heard every day, not just on Election Day." We were founded by a collective of musicians and fans, and our supporters include Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Phish, and many other top recording artists. Marc Brownstein, the bassist for the popular electronic rock band The Disco Biscuits, serves as our co-chair and Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir sits on our Board of Directors. Musicians and their fans have the potential to be leaders in worldwide social movements. HeadCount is focused on harnessing that potential and translating it into real action. With the backing of major musicians, we have a unique opportunity to motivate and inspire. With street teams in 50 cities and thousands of volunteers, we have a proven ability to rally young activists. By combining the individual power of the artists with the aggregate power of their fans, we can create a force as influential as the music itself.
The work that you do at HeadCount is so important, what first drew you to get involved?
HeadCount to me is a perfect marriage of two things I fell in love with a long time ago—the healing power of music and our social responsibility to be civically engaged. I honestly couldn't believe it when I found out that an organization like this actually existed! I first encountered HeadCount at Bonnaroo, which I have attended for quite a few years now, and the moment I came upon their table (you can always find me in the eco-friendly village, Planet Roo!), let me tell you, I literally jumped up and down and immediately asked, "How can I become a part of this?" Since then, I've moved to New York and become a Team Leader and I haven't looked back since.
On average, how many people a year do you think HeadCount registers to vote?
We have registered over 250,000 voters since our beginning in 2004. We tend to have a bit more registrations in presidential election years, but recently, we have pushed a lot of our focus onto local elections and have started a partnership with TurboVote to sign people up for local election alerts in their areas. We have also started organizing "Participation Rows" at festivals and tours across the U.S. These act as their own non-profit villages of sorts, where we partner with organizations who each have their own focuses and goals to better the world around us.
Why do you feel is it so important for people to vote?
How could it not be important to vote? So many people have lost their lives in the fight for us to have this right, and some people are still struggling to be able to exercise this right, even in 2017. Also, don't ever forget that women were only granted the right to vote in 1920! If we do not utilize our power to have a say in the world we want to see created around us, that is when we'll truly become hopeless as a nation.
How can people get involved with HeadCount?
We have teams in cities across the U.S. To see everywhere we are and what shows we are doing, just visit our website at HeadCount.org. Once there, all you need to do is fill out a short volunteer registration form and pick the shows you want to volunteer for. It's that simple! (Pro-tip: For those just starting out, try smaller shows first. Also, it always helps to shoot the Team Leader on the show you wish to volunteer for a quick email expressing your interest. )
Find out more about Headcount here.
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Janeth Ann Gonda is currently the events and promotions manager at BUST Magazine, a singer, dancer, writer, and event planner living in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently the lead singer in the Gypsy Witch Rock Band Espejismo. After working in the Brooklyn music industry for several years she created her own event space Barranquilla Studios. Janeth has hosted hundreds of bands and fans alike and is an active member in the NYC music community.