Exclusive Interview With Gem And Jam Founder, Toby White

Exclusive Interview With Gem And Jam Founder, Toby White

I got the special opportunity to interview the founder of the incredibly unique Gem and Jam Festival

Tucson is home to the world's largest gem and mineral show but many of you may be more familiar with Gem and Jam, an annual music festival that takes place in January and is known for its unique incorporation of music, minerals, workshops, and art. I got the chance to interview Toby White, the founder of Gem and Jam, to get the inside scoop on the history of Gem and Jam, what makes it so unique and how it all comes together. Gem and Jam is still months away, naturally, there are some things that Toby White could not announce quite yet.


How did the idea of Gem and Jam come about?

"Gem & Jam started back in 2003 as a much more simple idea. A gem and mineral dealer/friend had mentioned to me that there really wasn't any sort of fun activity for people to do after the gem show was over each day. I saw this as an opportunity to develop my own sort of event where I could incorporate music as well a self-contained gem show."


What was the deciding factor to hold the festival in Tucson? How did the Gem and Mineral show inspire elements of the festival?

"Tucson has the largest gem and mineral show in the world. It seemed like an open market that could really expand into something different. I thought it would be cool to bring a new type of Gem Show to a pretty conservative scenario that was happening back then. It was all about the gems, and I saw a much of the crowd that was coming down also being lovers of music. It all sort of fell together pretty organically."


What is the motivation to do a unique festival like Gem and Jam?

"There really isn't anything quite like it. It has moved to 6 different venues over the years, and over that time the event has moved from being more of a club type experience to a 4-day festival. It has really kept the same vibe through the years and still has the intimate feeling. It's fun to see how it's evolved and exciting to continue to watch it grow into something people really dig on."


How did you and your team decide to do live dancers, live painters, art installations and workshops?

"We do an online application process through our website, but we also have the local Tucson community that we have pulled from that has been working with us for years that have brought a lot of talent to the table. Cirque Roots has been our all-star performance troupe and we have allowed them to help organize that side of things. They have also assisted in workshop coordination. Of course, we also reach out to more well-known people, but we have always been huge advocates of allowing people to come and show off their skills that they might not have had the chance anywhere else. That part makes it fresh and new."


What do you think makes Gem and Jam such a unique festival and experience overall?

"I think the variety of experiences people can have while they are there. There is constant visual stimulation, amazing live music, and education. I think all of those things are important and make the whole gathering memorable."


Looking back at the first ever Gem and Jam, what do you think has been your greatest achievement so far?

"Hmmm. Good question. I think for me, the greatest achievement is sticking to my roots to why I first started it. I wanted to be able to give people that are close to me with talent, the opportunity to be seen or heard when they might not necessarily have that outlet anywhere else. It's hard to make it in the industry and to be able to give people a chance to show off their talent. I feel like promoters in this industry get lost from why they started sometimes. I feel good that I have stuck with my values on why I do this. Loyalty and integrity are the keys to success!"


Can you give any hints on what we can expect from workshops this year?

"It's a little too early to give away too much, but expect to see workshops on gems & minerals, jewelry making, yoga, body movement and much more. We are always trying to bring in new and unique projects."


Due to the unique and varied lineup when it comes to music, what is the process you and your team go through when determining which artists will be performing?

"We like to bring in all types of music lovers. We all feel very passionately about music and try to be as diverse as possible, without steering too far away from our own personal taste in music. It's nice to enjoy the music that is playing at your event. I think that makes us all really enjoy it just as must as our patrons. I think every year we evolve with what the musical lineup looks like. We strive to integrate as much live music as possible."


What extra steps do you and your team take to make the overall experience one that people will never forget?

"I think the most important thing is to learn from your mistakes. Each year as we grow, we add new elements. It's challenging to get them all right the first time. It's crucial to listen to our patrons and really watch to see what works and what doesn't. We focus on those faults and really strive to make them better for the following year. Sometimes it's the little things as they go a long way. This year we are really focusing on the overall camping experience, as that was new last year and we want to make sure everyone is safe and enjoying themselves."


If you had to explain Gem and Jam to a stranger in one sentence, what would you say?

"The festival offers a myriad of art, music, performance, and education into a community event where everyone is free to express themselves in positive ways outside the boundaries of our traditional social construct."


Gem and Jam just released their second round of artists which include Big Wild, Papadosio, and Sunsquabi. Make sure to head over to http://gemandjamfestival.com to check out all the details and follow Gem and Jam on Twitter Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop on announcements. As the weeks go on I will be releasing more interviews with artists such as Maddie O'Neal and Big Wild, as well as interviews with vendors, artists, and workshop holders.

Cover Image Credit: Gem and Jam Festival

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The 5 People You WON'T Meet In Heaven: Hollywood Edition

Despite their significant influence, they will not be found in Heaven.

Some of you, or none of you, may be familiar with Mitch Albom’s best-seller, The Five People You Meet In Heaven. In the novel, the protagonist meets five people who profoundly influenced his life or vice versa, and he learns about the reasons for their or his own influence.

In 2017, and long before, the following high-profile Hollywood men were accused of sexual misconduct in ranging degrees.

Although these men differ in circumstances and their influence on the United States’ social climate, they all remain individuals who you should not expect to see in Heaven.

1. Bill Cosby

As of June 2017, CNN reported that over 50 women accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct. The allegations against Cosby began as early as 2000, but intensified in October 2014 when comedian Hannibal Buress’ routine went viral, where he alluded to Cosby's misdemeanors, and women began to speak out and identify themselves as those who he abused. The allegations included reports that he would “forcibly grab and kiss” women, and many alleged that they were raped by Cosby. The link between the women who came forward was their confirmation that he drugged them, and then for some that there were periods of time that they could not account for before waking up unclothed or disheveled. As the number of accusers reached the twenties, The Washington Post reported in December 2014 that colleges — including his alma mater, University of Massachusetts at Amherst — severed ties with Cosby. More recently, The New York Times reported that Cosby’s case was declared a mistrial on June 17, 2017, and it was published on Aug. 22, 2017 that the retrial would be postponed until March, five months later than originally planned.

2. Harvey Weinstein

As recently as Dec. 13, 2017, USA Today published an updated list of the 84 accusers who came forth with allegations against Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Weinstein denied the allegations leveled against him, which ranged from propositions for massages to rape, according to USA Today. The one silver-lining to be found following the explosive details published by The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017 is the #MeToo movement, which ignited many individuals to share their stories of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. Nonetheless, Weinstein’s grossly inappropriate actions not only violated dozens of women, but also preyed upon many young women who were trying to enter the entertainment industry and were barely legal.

3. Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey made headlines when Buzzfeed News published an interview on Oct. 30, 2017, where actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey “made a sexual advance towards him when Rapp was 14.” Rapp, who is now 46, claimed the advance occurred during a party at Spacey’s apartment in 1986, and that the older actor laid on top of him. BBC News also reported other men who came forward with allegations of harassment and assault that Spacey directed toward them. Additionally, CNN reported that the “House of Cards” set was a “toxic” environment due to Spacey’s inappropriate behavior aimed toward crew members who worked alongside Spacey on the series. Amidst the accusations and denouncements from other celebrities — and Netflix and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, who refused to work on the final season of “House of Cards” if Spacey was involved and award him a special Emmy award, respectively — Spacey was also condemned for publicly recognizing in an official statement that he “choose[s] now to live as a gay man."

4. Woody Allen

Woody Allen is still a household name despite the allegations from his adopted daughter with Mia Farrow, Dylan Farrow, that he sexually abused her in 1992 when she was 7-years-old. As Farrow recounted decades ago, she was brought by Allen into the attic, and it was there that he allegedly laid his head on her lap with his face toward her body. Her claims were supported by adult witnesses on the day in question. Vanity Fair reported that on the day in question, one babysitter stated, “Allen and Dylan went missing for 15 or 20 minutes”, another claimed that Farrow was “staring vacantly in the direction of a television set” and a French tutor testified that Farrow was not wearing underpants under her sundress. More recently, Farrow decided to sit down with co-host Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” in a Jan. 18 interview that discussed the allegations. Separately, Allen is also married to Soon-Yi Previn, who he began an affair with while still in a relationship with Previn’s adoptive mother, Mia Farrow. Allen denied that he was in any way a father-figure toward Previn or any of Farrow’s adopted children, according to Salon.

5. Louis C.K.

Following the string of accusations toward men in Hollywood, Louis C.K. was accused by five women on Nov. 9, 2017 of sexual misconduct, according to The New York Times. The first pair of women, comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, recalled Louis C.K. inviting them to his hotel room for a nightcap after a show. He then removed his clothes and masturbated in front of them, after asking if he could take out his penis, which they initially thought was a joke. Other women came forward as well, one stating that during a phone conversation she could hear him masturbating, and another claiming that he asked her if he could masturbate in front of her, which she declined. Louis C.K. later released a statement that “These stories are true.”

Cover Image Credit: Entertainment Tonight

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Spiritual Warfare inside of her Poetic Spirit

"I feel like I'm drowning in my waste of impatience." Mrs. Powercouple

Continuing to type Mrs. Powercouple begins this quest using poetry. 

"I feel like I'm drowning in my waste of impatience. I'm taking the snakes fate for this fake reality I'm now faced with causing my destiny hatred. This snare is impairing my love and care, I ask him to leave and he disappears, then comes back clearing away all the paths paved to my heart. He tells me lies like Mr. P wouldn't waste his time loving a woman like I. Instead I should expect to be alone for the rest of my life. Day and night I await, while I sit alone and pace, faced with this intake of lies. My moods throw in a loop, I'm now confused with which feeling to choose from. If I'm too happy I'll lose it and end up bruised but then I get too hurt and gain enthusiasm from it's intake. Sometimes I misplace my loves steps with my mistakes. Mr. Powercouple deserves heaven but part of my spirit is still fighting with the gate keepers. The sneaky testers, testing my patience, gaining treasures from the pleasures of having a woman's attention. Their pain is my hex because I am blessed and cursed with compassion. If anyone happened to get hurt because of me I would lose my mind. I find myself climbing through this obstacle of time, but with each pull my arm gets cut from the incline. It's like the bars are knives, but with each reach I learn to be stronger. I guess that's where the savage in me is created, because although I am a slave to my sin, I also know there is hope for me to be saved. Especially when I'm caved in, suffocating from the ashes of the graved men. I know my blood shed is my shield so I refuse to die in-vain when it's my time to go."

An older man's breath from behind her hums the expression, "Pst" forcing Mrs. P to turn around. "I'm sorry ma'am but your name wasn't on the sign in sheet and there is a line waiting to use the computers." Blinking her eyes back to reality, Mrs. P apologizes and saves her work. Leaving the library, she looks back in gratitude then continues on her way. 

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