Tag Archives: education

5 Reasons to Attend Green Festival

Green Fest Banner NYCWhen we think of festivals, we oftentimes think of a community celebration – typically centered on music, food, or art. So it’s apropos that the “largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event” in America is the Green Festival®. Attendees enjoy music, food, and art as well as education and “green” products/services. Over the past 13 years it’s grown into more than a festival – it’s Festival Plus.

Green Festival visits five U.S. cities each year: New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. Chicago’s Navy Per is the next stop, with more than 250 businesses showing their wares over three days. We’ve attended several times in Washington.

Here are the five reasons it’s worth going.

 1. Green Festival Exhibit Floor DCSustainable Stuff. I’m always amazed at the range of exhibitors and presentations as well as the quality of the food and products in the marketplace. On the exhibit floor, there’s everything from Ford showing its latest electric and hybrid cars to a small natural soap maker called The Fanciful Fox. You’ll see brands you know, such as Clif Bar, and many you don’t. We talked with some of the vendors who were still operating out of their homes. And there are many free samples!

2. Ideas. The event is also a great chance to learn new things about living sustainably. The upcoming Chicago event, for example, has almost 50 speakers – including authors, filmmakers, politicians, musicians, and scientists. Ralph Nader spoke at the Washington event. There were 83 speakers at the recent Los Angeles festival. Topics range from gardening to yoga to solar power.

GFCommunityAward3. Awards. Green Festival offers a Community Award at each location – a $5,000 grant awarded to a deserving local non-profit, chosen by the public on-site at the festival and online. Selected at the Washington D.C. event was The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, which is dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC area.

4. Low Cost. Admission is reasonable and family friendly at only ten bucks per person (16 and under free, discounts to seniors and students). Volunteers enjoy free admission.

Kids Activities NYC5. Children and Adult Friendly. There’s a play area, puppet shows, dancing, plus plenty of products geared to children. And with kids (and adults like me) it’s always great to have a ready source of inexpensive and tasty food (some spicy!) nearby. Plus fashion shows, musical performances, and more for the grownups.

Green Festival is a fun way to learn more about sustainable living, through food, music, art, shopping, and discussions.


Forward on Climate: Can a rally make a difference?

Forward on Climate Rally crowd

On Sunday, while President Obama played golf in the warm Florida sunshine with oil executives, approximately 50,000 brave souls gathered in subzero temperatures near the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. for the “Forward on Climate” rally. We almost didn’t go because it was SO cold and windy … but decided it was important to be there. The rally was touted as the largest climate rally in history and intended to show Obama and others with influence that people want to be heard on the issue of climate change. There was a lot of noise and signage about the Keystone XL pipeline project that is designed to transport oil from the tar sands in Canada to the oil refineries in Texas. The project is in its permitting process that the President must approve for it to proceed.

USA Today’s report noted, “President Obama said in his State of the Union Address that if lawmakers don’t act on climate change, he will. Protesters say they are holding him to his word.”

Perhaps unlike the images of the Occupy Wall Street protests, we saw all sorts of people from young to old, of many races, and from many locations. The climate movement is inclusive by nature simply because it affects everyone. Buses carried people from 28 U.S. states to the rally, coordinated by the Sierra Club and 350.org.

People in the movement are concerned that Obama will keep his promises about working on climate change, which he most recently repeated in this State of the Union address. The concern is that he didn’t do much in his first term, and that hanging out with Texas oil men reflects his true intentions. Medea Benjamin in AlterNet makes the point that golf itself is “environmentally destructive”, implying another contradictory choice for the President supposedly on the side of environmental preservation..

While today the focus is on Obama’s uncertain commitment, the real challenge to the climate change movement is much more comprehensive. Some still don’t believe the science. Others have vested interest in the status quo. And many simply are afraid so they don’t want to think about what could be happening to our earth, our home. What is needed the most is ongoing education and regular activism as seen on Sunday at the rally.

obama golfing rally

People need to learn about the issues and make decisions about their positions. And then, if they are so moved, they must speak out. Yes, we can make the small changes in our daily lives by recycling, driving less, and trying to use less electricity. However, it is the big changes that are more significant – one of the important changes to address climate change is to end our addiction to non-renewable energy. The science is conclusive, now it’s up to we the people to insist on the needed changes. The Forward on Climate rally participation of 50,000 would have been even higher on a warmer day. Perhaps the rally is a turning point for the climate movement, which has mostly relied upon science and reason until now. For the first time in its 120-year history, the Sierra Club board is allowing civil disobedience to fight the Tar Sands. The rally clearly represents what people can do, how their voices can be heard, and if progress can be made soon – just how important it can be to speak out.


Book Review: Wake Up and Smell the Planet

This 175-page book is full of ideas for “Greening Your Day” by being more mindful of our daily choices. Created by the editors of Grist.org, the blog covering environmental news and providing commentary on climate change as it applies to daily life. The book goes through the day chronologically, showing ways we can make decisions that have less of a negative affect on the planet. It’s an easy read with some sprinkling of humor. The statistics and assertions are not referenced, so the book reads more like a printed blog. But Grist is credible, having been around writing about this stuff since 1999. A long time ago in Internet time! The book, by the way, was published way back in 2007. Its contents remain relevant, although perhaps the planet smells somewhat worse today.



Disneynature's Oceans

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727), From Brewster, Memoirs of Newton (1855)

Sara and I went to see the Disneynature film Oceans, that was released on Earth Day. I expected a crowded theater for the Saturday night showing, however the place was less than 1/4 full. Oceans is doing fairly well at the box office, taking in an estimated 8.5 million dollars in the U.S. its first week (as of Sunday) in theaters (Box Office Mojo). This is good news for coral reefs, because, “In honor of each moviegoer who sees the movie during opening week (April 22-28), Disneynature will give $0.20 for each ticket sold to The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Coral Reef program.” If we assume each ticket costs $10, that’s about 850,000 moviegoers, resulting in a donation of $170,000 – and the week is not over! Oceans had a $80 million budget, which sounds like a lot, but #1 this week is How to Train Your Dragon with a budget of $165 million.

The photography in Oceans is phenomenal. Reportedly the film took five years to produce. New cameras and methods were developed to acquire some spectacular shots. Seeing the footage of the dolphins swimming, feeding, and jumping is alone worth the price of admission. There are views of some rare fish and plenty of food-chain excitement. As a geographer, I was hoping for more about the oceans – where they are, their changing perception by humans over history, etc. As a geographer, I was hoping for more about the oceans – where they are, their changing perception by humans over history, etc.

From a conservation standpoint, the movie is strong in its images and that should cause viewers to connect to the ocean perhaps more than they already connect. There is also a short section showing a net with sea creatures trapped in it as well as garbage underwater. But I think overall it could be stronger on its conservation message. Yet, it IS Disney, so I didn’t expect a lot more; the movie targets families who don’t want to exit depressed. Oceans will raise awareness of the spectacular part of the Earth often unseen. That education is a big step toward conservation.