Grand Rapids Cigarette Butt Cleanup // Brandy
Brandy committed to picking up 10,000 cigarette butts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In return, HQ is bringing Brandy and her son back to The Forest, and creating pocket ashtrays that Brandy will help distribute on site at Electric Forest 2019 with fellow Grand Rapids Wish Machine winner, Danielle!
“I’m Brandy, a 45 year old mom who had no idea that a music festival would open my eyes, heart, and mind forever. A few years ago, I was able to remove myself and my two teenage children from a 15-year marriage that was mentally and physically abusive. My son Robert, who is the oldest, was always so understanding and forgiving about the environment in which he was raised. In 2017, Robert was 18 and seemed to be floating numbly through life… this was when Roberts’’\ friend Jesse asked him if he would like to go with him to Electric Forest 2017. We really had no money, so he was meagerly prepared and I was a bit worried while he was gone. When he got back home he must have slipped into bed sometime late in the night. And when I woke up the next morning I rushed to his room and gave him the biggest hug. He suddenly burst into tears, and muttered out “you have to go next year mom! I will even buy your ticket.” It was hard for him to put into words how transforming it was, but I was just relieved that he had had a good time and made it home safely. About six months later he told me that he had just purchased two tickets on layaway. One for him, and one for me to go to Electric Forest 2018. At the time, Robert and I worked together at a busy restaurant. And I knew that he was not happy pulling the grueling long shifts, or with what he was doing for that matter… but every so often, he would look at me, smile, and say, “it will all be worth it when I can bring you to The Forest.” I kept asking myself… what teenage boy wants to bring his mom to a music festival? Let alone pay for her ticket? As the day grew near we once again found ourselves stretching every dollar to get supplies. Rob said, ” don’t worry about it Mom. We just got to get there.”
When we took off for Rothbury from home in Grand Rapids, our excitement starting flooding over. I had no idea what to expect really, but I am an old hippie at heart. So I hoped, at the very least, for a very chill and friendly environment. We arrived on Wednesday and soon found out that our neighbors were MSU college girls from the neighboring city of Lansing. Robert helped me get comfortable with the layout, and we ended up having a great evening getting to know our new neighbors. The next morning, I could see the look of excitement on Rob’s face and he said,” Come on Mom, I’m going to take you to the most magical place on Earth. Sherwood Forest.”
The next few days were the most blatantly joyous that I’ve ever experienced. Watching my beautiful son’s aura draw so many different and wonderful people to him. To feel the love that just waterfalls between every single person and every piece of nature was completely overwhelming. I’ve never felt more loved, more at home, or more at peace than I did in The Forest. To see all these young people being so positive and accepting opened my heart and renewed my faith in the future, mankind, and the Earth that sustains us.
That is why I wished for two wristbands so I could take my son back to the place that I saw him become himself, and find himself, and see the joy in his heart while he also introduced ME to these things.
My mission also started in The Forest. I smoke cigarettes, wish I could quit. And I have never felt so overwhelmingly aware that I shouldn’t tarnish this beautiful place with my gross cigarette butts. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t toss them on the ground or out the car window, recklessly before Forest. The support and love that I’ve received from the community has been so heartwarming. I hope that I inspire others to think about how they’re disposing of their waste.
I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for this blessing from the Wish Machine. I get to return the wonderful gift that my son gave to me. And I get to help raise awareness about properly recycling cigarette butts.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cannot wait to be with my Forest family once again.
P.S.: Remember the college chicks I was talking about that were our neighbors? Well my son fell in love with one of those cute girls in Sherwood Forest last summer. Last year she was just our neighbor, but this year we are all one family.”
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