Lightning in a Bottle: A Community of Cultural Creatives

Jacob Devaney
4 min readMay 7, 2023

Lightning in a Bottle is in a category of its’ own. The festival’s immersive environments transport your imagination into a realm beyond words. The geometric-shaped colorful tents, art installations, fractal laser light shows, music and star-gazing by the lake create a synergy of the senses that feel like an elaborate dreamscape. To share an experience like this with friends, old and new, is a pure taste of evolutionary community.

Drone shot of Lightning in a Bottle

What is evolutionary community? The core traits of human evolution have always been our adaptability and the ways that we come together to exchange ideas as social beings. It is a petri dish of creative culture that blends the past, present and future into a transcendent space where collaborative relationships thrive. This is how we express and innovate as a species.

Hawaiian Kumu Ramsay Taum will be teaching a Ho’Oponopono Workshop at the Compass

Ancestral Lands maintain their meaning when people gather to remember through oral histories, enjoy music, dance and camp under the stars. Each year members of the local Tejon Tribe come to share their culture and stories about the land which has been a gathering site for indigenous people since long before the first Spanish settlers arrived.

Native Dancer at the Compass

The times, the technology, the landscape and the beats have changed throughout the centuries yet there is still a common thread connecting the human spirit across the generations. Our desire to celebrate life, explore possibilities and share visions remains. Lightning in a Bottle is a great place to experience all of it.

A Taste of the Workshop Village at Lightning in a Bottle

The Compass is the heart of the community. This is where you will find Native Dancers, a council fire, ritual theater, yoga classes, and hear talks from visionaries like Queen Afua and culture-keepers like Hawaiian Kumu Ramsay Taum. There is also a “learning kitchen” with workshops on herbal remedies, plant-based diets, superfoods, growing sprouts, taco theory, fermented foods for gut health and cacao ceremonies. You can read the full lineup here.

Jive Joint Late-Night Stage

As a co-founder of UNIFY I am very excited to be hosting a panel at The Compass this year. It is about the convergence of social media, independent film and storytelling as vehicles for social and environmental impact. My guests will be Marco Rios Bollinger of Hidden Heroes, Director Jon Amiel, and photographer Shawn Heinrichs who is the Founder of Only One.

Shawn Heinrich’s stunning ocean photography has sparked awareness and global conservation efforts

Only One is an innovative platform for planetary action that has become a hub for individuals and influencers who are on a mission to restore the oceans and tackle environmental challenges. Marco Rios Bollinger will be premiering episode 2 of the Hidden Heroes series which he filmed on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica with actress Holland Roden (see behind the scenes footage here). Marco has integrated online learning with impact travel while using film and social media campaigns to inspire a movement of local heroes creating actionable solutions to contemporary problems.

The Grand Artique Stage

The Music is the soul of the community. There are many stages with live bands like Ozomatli, DJ’s like Diplo, along with groups that are a fusion of electronic and acoustic like Beats Antique. The bigger stages are Lightning, Thunder, and Woogie with state-of-the art sound systems and light shows. Then there are the themed smaller stages like the Grand Artique which is a fabricated old-west town with steampunk curiosities, parlor games, a saloon and live musicians. The huge musical lineup can be viewed here.

Woogie Stage Photo Credit: Juliana Bernstein/ Get Tiny Photography

Let’s party! If it gets too hot out bring your floaty and have some drinks on the lake with your friends. The Fungineers will be cruising the grounds in their psychedelic ice cream truck throwing impromptu dance parties. There’s also an outdoor roller rink fully stocked with quad skates and a disco ball. If you wanna chill late-night on a sofa or dance in a living room be sure to visit Mixed Tape an art installation complete with a 70’s style stereo and hundreds of cassette tapes. The vendors row is great for shopping where you will find all sorts of unique handmade clothing and crafts.

The Fungineers Psychedelic Ice Cream Truck

Set your sails for inspiration. May 24–29 at Buena Vista Lake near Bakersfield will mark the 20th Anniversary of Lighting in a Bottle. Tickets are available here. For people in the Southwest, Northwest and California it is a beautiful road trip but if you are coming from elsewhere you better book your flight soon. What creative flavors will you add to this evolutionary culture?



Jacob Devaney

Cultural-Creative, Media-Maker, Dreamer, Musician. Technology, Art, Science, Health, Spirituality, Culture, Community, Environment. UNIFY Co-Founder