September 2016, Newsletter
Thank you. Thank you to everyone who came to the root this summer and helped out. Thank you to everyone who came to Limb Snapping. Thank you for everyone who supported us and most of all, liked our Instagram photos. Thank you. We love sharing what we are doing with our friends and love everyone's enthusiasm for The Root.
August was a quiet month at the root after the huge success that was Limb Snapping. Many Root members too a vacation away from Upstate New York and let the mud dry. Even though there were two weekends "off" The Root is forever changing.
Fourth Annual Limb Snapping Ceremony 2016
BROOKLYN — Picture a cluster of tree houses in upstate New York. Imagine that this place is like an oasis. It is an unusual playground that’s as glittery as it is grimy. There are zip lines and secret libraries tucked away in hand-made barn silos. There is only a river to bathe in. Now imagine that, once a year, a growing number of young people descend on this place to post up in tents and dance to live bands that play beneath a canopy of trees. Picture it: they cheers with keg beers under a blanket of stars.
Now imagine this dreamscape was built on an immovable foundation formed by a tribe of young adults whose friendship dates back to childhood.
In a time where millennials are often reduced to the worst of tropes — lazy, entitled, self-important— imagine that this place and the people that journey to its muddy slopes demolish those cookie-cutter labels. Imagine that the millennials who escape to this place were greeted with a beer, a headlamp and a pair of hands to set up their tents, and all were welcomed to enjoy the festivities.
This place is real and it is rapidly making a name for itself. More than a festival, it’s like a pilgrimage. It’s called The Root and the organizers who gave birth to it host an annual event called Limb Snapping. Each year, the organizers bear the costs of hosting what some attendees have called the “party of the year.”
The Root’s founder is Peter Ossi, a designer and a Connecticut native who says the idea to build such a place came to him naturally. Ossi’s father gifted the land on which The Root was built to his sister, who in turn gifted it to him.
“When we first started, I had no idea it was going to be a giant undertaking,” Ossi said. “My imagination had gone as far as building a tree house village. I had no idea how much fucking work it would be to actually build it.”
Last year’s Limb Snapping saw an attendance of about 80. This year, the headcount was around 160. The previous year, the turn out was about 40. Essentially, Limb Snapping’s attendance has doubled year-over-year.
The name itself, Limb Snapping, is a nod to the practice of launching big boats by cracking a bottle of champagne over the bow of a ship. As tree houses are built one by one on the premise, The Root’s organizes say they want to inaugurate each structure. They cut a branch off a tree overhanging each new tree house.
“It’s inverse good luck,” said Morgan Flagg, an early member of The Root tribe and a talented improv comedian. “We don’t want any limb snapping or anything breaking, so we break the limb first so that our luck is essentially with us.”
Bear in mind, this annual gathering leaves its organizers in the red. Ossi said that they they’ve taken a loss on Limb Snapping each year since its inception.
So, this year, The Root’s organizers tried to show their appreciation for the people that have contributed. On the second night of Limb Snapping 2016, it poured. It rained so much that attendees rode each other’s bodies like sleds down a muddy slope as bands played on in the rain and concertgoers danced through the disarray. Yet the event’s organizers ensured that the night bended to a distinct focus.
Flagg explained that The Root’s organizers decided to hand out awards this year to recognize the ties that bind those most invested in The Root Community.
“We had some really special people who spent every weekend with us for the last three months,” Flagg said. “Those people are really special and had become really close friends. We wanted to honor them to acknowledge their addition to the group.”
Among those acknowledged at Limb Snapping 2016 were Brian Jones, Kristian Isringhaus, Sara Vitti and Kim Case. Case in particular went above the call of duty, handling the minutia of logistics from start to finish. For feeding the masses and organizing ticket sales, Case won the award for “biggest deck,” which dissolved quickly into a group chant of “biggest dick.” According to Flagg, that chant was “also appropriate.”
At one point during the awards ceremony, Liz Petoskey, an accomplished project manager for a financial tech startup, turned to her party and said, “I’d hire Kim in a heartbeat. She project managed the shit out of this.”
Charles Parker Allen, a member of The Root himself, and an outbound sponsored program specialist for American Field Service USA, said taking ownership of the empire The Root had become was a group effort.
“We gave flavor and ownership to our surroundings, and it echoed the feeling of playing in a sandbox,” Allen said. “Whatever you want to do, make it your own. I think we've done a job of continuing that.”
On the topic of ownership over the ballooning event Limb Snapping has become, Ossi echoed a similar sentiment.
“Whoever comes up here is almost immediately friends with anyone else they talk to because of the wall they have to climb to get out of the city,” Ossi said. “There are so many people who won’t do that.”
In other words, the spirit of The Root being all about friendship gives rise to the expectation that everyone’s going to get along. That sentiment has continuity, and Ossi’s got a rock-solid vision of how he hopes The Root might evolve.
“My very romantic idea of where this goes is based on a retrospective look on a lot of my favorite people — famous artists and designers,” Ossi said. “Many of them were parts of the same group of friends. You have Gertrude Stein and Picasso and Matisse and Fitzgerald. They all hung out together back in the 20’s. They all shared ideas and that spread throughout the group.”
Another Root vet, Dencie LeVeen, a Maine native and an associate account manager for KPMG, agreed that The Root was a vital escape. “Living in Brooklyn but growing up in a rural town, The Root has been an oasis for me to escape the City,” LeVeen said. “Although the landscape and infrastructure constantly evolves with each season, and more friends explore our acreage, The Root had remained a genuine community of friendship.”
Call millennials what they may — lazy, entitled, self-important — the demographic might prefer to be defined as dreamers, designers or optimists. Above all, this generation might still have fight left in it to prove it’s ready to work toward an ideal. And according to Ossi, that’s not unlike the lives of artists of days past.
“They all gained success together because of the way they were making things together,” Ossi said. “If the root is a vessel for that, that’s what I hope for.”
We are still pushing forward with Droomvlucht. There are now four walls framed and are looking forward to the rafters. With the 9 foot walls up we see how tall this treehouse is truly is going to be. Limb Snappers helped out with moving the lumber and began the floor plate before the heat took over and everyone retreated to the river.
The roof of the silo is now finished and a small shed was installed next to the barn for additional storage. The fire pit that was the center of the Limbs Snapping festivities, or Plymouth Rock as it has been named, has been enlarged and benches built around it making it an excellent location especially when there are a lot of people up for the weekend.