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
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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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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Things To Do When You're So Bored All You Want To Do Is Cry

Do something artsy

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Everyone has times when they have nothing to do and boredom strikes way too hard. From experience, I have found some top things to do when you literally have nothing else to do!

1. Clean

Not super fun, but will keep you busy.

2. Netflix

Find a new show to binge watch. Watched them all? Rewatch something you haven't seen in a while!

3. Shopping

Retail therapy can always keep you busy.

4. Make a home cooked meal

Spend some time in the kitchen and make something yummy! Even invite some friends.

5. Visit friends/ family

Pop in on some people you care about that you haven't seen in a while!

6. Write

Writing is something we all do and is a great way to express ourselves!

7. Exercise

Hit the gym or go for walk, do something to keep you nice and fit.

8. Volunteer

Go to an animal shelter, food bank, museums, or anywhere in your area that needs help.

9. Look for a job

If you're bored, maybe getting a part time job will keep you a little occupied. Plus it's extra money in your pocket.

10. Draw/ do something artsy

Even if you think you're a bad artist, drawing is something fun to do! You'll get better in time.

11. Join an Odyssey Team!

Writing articles through the Odyssey is an amazing experience and can always keep you busy!

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