Local Commentary

Editorial: A Falls Church Woodstock

Of course the weather was a big factor. It was a perfect day. But what made this year’s annual Tinner Hill Heritage Music Festival — held earlier this month at Cherry Hill Park in the center of Falls Church — such an amazing success and triumph for the values that the Little City stands for was not just the music, or the food, or the venue, or the organizing that went into it. It was the makeup of the participants.

By that we mean it was one of the most fully racially integrated events anyone could hope for. And that was truly beautiful.

Such a makeup is a rarity even in the big cities, but to accomplish this in this Little City, suburban as it is and still overwhelmingly white in its demographic makeup of residents, offered a hopeful glimpse of what the future will hold for us.

Kudos go to the founders and earliest organizers of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, steadfast civil rights advocates Ed and Nikki Graves Henderson, for their vision and efforts to launch the annual event, and for the irrepressible Rock Star realtor Tori McKinney for her mammoth organizing effort pulling the whole thing off. She told the News-Press that about 2,000 people participated in what we thoroughly hope will be a growing annual event.

One is tempted to evoke the memory of Woodstock, when the peace, love, racial justice and anti-war sentiments of the 1960s peaked at that historic musical event in upstate New York. It’s hard to fathom how few among us these days are old enough to remember that seminal event. An excellent documentary made about it did not address the social context that produced it, which was in full flower then.

No, the little Tinner Hill Festival in Falls Church was no Woodstock, and the comparison is, admittedly, laughable. Not only was our event obviously much smaller, it was less messy (there was no big rainstorm), with far fewer varieties of psychedelic libations and no sex on site that we heard about. The main similarity was the copacetic atmosphere, the peace and love vibe, that despite everything is still alive and struggling to grow amongst us.

To be sure, we’re not hippies here. Yet the tendency to hold out the kind of event that happened here does evoke a notion of the possibility that nourishes the soul and inspires us to try even harder to make for a just and compassionate society. It comes as the furies of hateful reaction have been staging a comeback of their own, and so not a moment too soon.

If this year of the James Webb telescope has reminded us of anything, its that this little spinning globe on which we live is lonely and isolated. But it’s ours, and we need to nurture all the love we can on it.