Seattle's First Green Festival Proves Popular

SEATTLE, Washington, April 17, 2008 (ENS) – Spring festival season kicked off Saturday with Seattle’s inaugural Green Festival. More than 350 exhibits and 125 speakers on five stages filled the Washington State Convention Center and attracted thousands of people to the two day festival, produced by Seven Star Events.

Green Festivals have been held since 2002 in San Francisco, with festivals added later in Chicago and Washington, DC, but this was the debut event for the Pacific Northwest.

A joint project of two national nonprofit organizations, Global Exchange and Co-op America, Green Festivals bring together local and national socially responsible businesses, and environmental, social justice and community organizations.

Eco-chic at the Tinctoria Designs booth at
Seattle’s Green Festival (Photos
by S.P. Lewis, ENS)

“Our goal is to provide a two day party with a purpose, engaging attendees with a truly extensive green event to enlighten and educate the public on greener ways of living,” said Co-op America Executive Director Alisa Gravitz. “The tremendous growth in attendance at Green Festivals reflects people’s hunger to learn about the movement toward more sustainable lifestyles – and how much fun it is to go green.”

Natural home and health products, renewable energy, socially responsible investing, eco-travel, Fair Trade gifts and crafts, eco-chic clothing colored with natural dyes, environmental games nd musical instruments, and booths featuring organic foods of all kinds from chocolate to hemp seed crackers kept attendees entertained for hours.

The City of Seattle had a pavilion showcasing city resources for energy conservation, green power, and climate action.

Mayor Greg Nickels told participants that the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement he launched on on February 16, 2005, the day the Kyoto Protocol took effect, now includes the mayors of cities where nearly 80 million Americans reside.

Jim Hightower has fun with the crowd.

Speaker Jim Hightower, talk show host and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, packed the hall. “American is becoming a nation of people who defy the constipated corporate order,” he said. “They are making their own businesses their way, aligning their work with their values. They have kept their souls, their politics and their values intact.”

Hightower encouraged the audience to put in public financing of elections to remove the influence of big money and lobbyists with big bankrolls from the political scene.

“In Maine, Arizona and New Mexico people on their own have put in public financing of their elections,” he said. “It’s available in the primaries and to third party candidates, so more women and people of color are getting elected. Across the country, this change is taking place.”

Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute also packed the hall with a technical talk about energy efficiency, which he is convinced will overcome the rising cost of energy when combined with better design and engineering.

Seattle Green Festival crowd relaxes in the food area.

Global Exchange Co-Founder Kevin Danaher said, “With something for everyone, the green in Green Festival encompasses it all – environmental and community health, social and economic justice, fair trade, education and inspiration.”

Before organizing the event, Green Festival leadership went to the local First Nations peoples to ask for permission to hold the event on tribal lands. With spoken word, song and dance, the Duwamish and the Suquamish tribes offered an official welcome.

Gravitz said, “We are honored to be working so closely with the City of Seattle, King County, First Nations, the Seattle Host Committee and the many local green businesses and community leaders who are bringing together such innovative ideas, technologies, products, and services from the Puget Sound region.”

Now in its seventh year, the Green Festival circuit includes San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, DC and saw over 100,000 combined attendance in 2007.

The next festival will take place in Chicago in May, with festivals in Washington, DC and San Francisco to follow in November.

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