By: Jason R. Latham
When the gates open at Life Is Beautiful and festival goers pour into an 18-block area of Downtown Las Vegas, it’s easy to overlook the fact that tens of thousands of people are essentially moving in. This isn’t the Black Rock Desert or even the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Downtown is home to businesses, families, and a number of residents just trying to survive.
Softening the impact on those living and working within the festival grounds, and that includes the homeless, falls on the shoulders of Merideth Spriggs, LIB’s community coordinator. This year, Merideth was brought onto the team with the specific role of assisting with community engagement efforts.
Leveraging her experience as Chief Kindness Officer for Caridad, Life is Beautiful’s homeless service partner, Merideth has been able to tap into a decade’s worth of connections with local business owners, residents, and homeless individuals within and beyond the festival’s footprint. That’s allowed her to not only assist in relocating anyone affected by the festival, but also find ways to improve their lives long after the stages come down and the crowds go home.
“Caridad now partners with the festival to hire and house homeless, which brings economic opportunities to the homeless that would not exist without LIB,” Merideth says.
Throughout her tenure with Caridad, she has helped more than 300 people find assistance – everything from emergency hotel rooms to transportation and even identifying documents such as birth certificates and ID cards.
Five LIB Questions with Merideth Spriggs
OTS: What’s the best performance you’ve ever seen at Life Is Beautiful?
Merideth Spriggs: I have seen so many amazing performances over the years the ones that stand out in order are:
Lionel Richie (2014) – I saw him with my husband from the Ferris wheel. He blew us away with how great he sounded and his stage presence. He was such a cut up.
Outkast (2014) – From the moment they dropped the curtain and started with “Bombs Over Bagdad” until the end of the set, I was mesmerized.
Billie Eilish (2019) – She was so high energy! She jumped around the stage and really commanded a presence as she worked the entire stage…with two boots on her feet. At the time, she was 17 and it made me seriously question what I was doing with my life if a performer that young could be going that hard and doing such a great job.
Cage the Elephant (2017) – I am convinced their vocalist isn’t human. He is magical when he performs. I remember thinking if Prince and Mick Jagger had a baby, it would be this performer.
Bob Moses (2022) – My two best friends, Tony, who helped create the festival, and Lindsay, who gave input for some of the first artists, introduced me to the festival. We used to attend annually and meet up for a hug and a music set. They both also got me into Bob Moses’ music. Both of my best friends sadly have passed. When I finally got to the Bob Moses set in 2022 it was bittersweet. I couldn’t help think of them. It took me back to the early planning meetings and discussions about bands. I made sure to get there early and smashed into the front. I wanted to take in every detail of the set, not for my phone, but for my memory banks as a way of carrying on their legacy and making new memories in their honor.
OTS: Craziest Life is Beautiful Story?
Merideth Spriggs: I’m not much of a drinker so my friend and movie producer, Morgan Spurlock, who is sober, and I decided to run around together. I bumped into my friend Robert Reynolds’ little brother, Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons! He not only knew my friend Morgan, but Morgan’s wife had produced Dan’s movie “Believer”. The boys and I ran around together and happened to then bump into someone my lawyer husband worked with, Ron from Jersey Shore. Then, with both Dan and Ron with me, I was standing in the artist tent when the lead singer of Foster the People came up to ask me a schedule question, as he saw me going over it with the boys. Realizing Pharrell’s set had started I jokingly said, “Let’s walk and talk. I don’t want to miss this set.” Ron left us, but the three of us went to catch the set. We got to meet the rest of the band, and only then did it hit me…I looked like I was cooler than I was. I ended up making some of the band guys take a photo of Dan, Morgan and me.
OTS: Which Artist Are You Most Excited to See This Year?
Merideth Spriggs: I love John Summit, but I am also excited to take my sister to see Odessa and The Killers and watch her response to seeing them live.
OTS: Which Experience Are You Most Excited to See This Year?
Merideth Spriggs: My favorite Life is Beautiful experience is discovering amazing art. I am also ready to catch a DJ that is new to me at the Mantis stage. I feel like some of the best finds are at the smaller stages.
OTS: What’s Your No. 1 Tip for a First-Time Festival Goer?
Merideth Spriggs: As I said, my friends Tony and Lindsay have passed. The festival used to be our thing we would do together. Each of them always encouraged me to be in the moment and be “wowed” with wonder. The vision for the festival was to bring together the best music, arts, food and interactive experiences so that everywhere you turn, you would smile at the discovery. If it’s your first time, stay off your phone and get a few photos of you and your friends. Don’t spend your time trying to meet up with people or stress out about making a set time, just go with the flow. Be present, take it all in and be to be “wowed.”