In ecology, sustainability refers to how biological systems remain diverse and productive. In the 21st century, sustainability is a global priority. On our Planet Earth, the proverbial equation of supply (diminishing natural resources) and demand (consumer needs, coupled with a looming energy crisis, and climate change that is altering our atmosphere and its temperature) is forever imbalanced. In order for sustainability to enter into the equation, there will need to be absolute cooperation between the business sector, politicians (state and federal levels) and consumers. More importantly, there must be a venue that addresses the issue of sustainability. Green Festivals is such a venue.
Founded in 2001 by Kevin Danaher, Green Festivals originated as a small focus group in San Francisco and subsequently became a year-to-year event with increasing attendance, approximately five thousand persons per year. Green Festivals gave away over 100,000 free tickets to the first event. Since its inception, Green Festivals has been hosted in multiple cities: Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Green Festival’s ideology centers around a combination of profit and non-profit business models that link social justice, environmental restoration and financial sustainability.
I spoke with Professor Danaher, who is currently teaching a course in Global Sociology at San Francisco State University, and asked him what inspired him to start Green Festivals. Without hesitation he responded with one word: “Justice. My father grew up in Ireland, when the country was under rule of the British. One afternoon a soldier came up and killed my father’s cow for no reason. Most societies have some version of The Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ We need to re-define the word ‘others,’ translating to all living things.” Professor Danaher continues, “There are two world views right now: money, guns, and ‘God is on our side,’ versus a global brain, a progressive notion that all living things are equal.”
Dr. Danaher delves further into the idea of a global brain: “The internet has made it possible for such a thing to exist, an educated international public that works together and learns to share within that global community. One day there will be internet voting.” He adds this sentence as an afterthought.
Dr. Danaher writes on a blog posted by The Huffington Post, “Now we are in the early stages of the first global revolution. It is a ‘values revolution’ that is saying, instead of having ‘money values’ rule over the life cycle, we must have ‘life values’ rule over the money cycle. We must subordinate the economy to society and nature, rather than subordinating society and nature to the economy.
Dr. Corinna Basler is President of Green Festivals and is committed to its focus on living green. Dr. Basler comments, “We have so many events in the country that are very focused and very specialized, and it’s all our mission basically to combine all of those different options and categories.” Dr. Basler explains, “Because we want to make sure that we touch everyone’s life. We believe that everyone has a responsibility now to work, play and to live green.”
The 2004 Green Festival in San Francisco was notable in that eighty-four percent of the waste generated was recovered, recycled and composted. Green Festivals nationwide all follow the same stringent resource recovery standards in cleaning up after each festival.
The 2010 Green Festival in San Francisco at the Concourse Exhibition Center took the community by storm. The event was unique in that recycled resources were used, including plastics, aluminum, glass, mixed paper and cardboard, electronic waste, compost and grey water, with hundreds of thousands of pounds of waste diverted from landfills.
In 2011, Los Angeles launched its first Green Festival at the L.A. Convention Center. Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist for Democracy Now, Amy Goodman, spoke at the event. The renowned Ms. Goodman also spoke at Green Festivals in Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York. In 2005, Ms. Goodman spoke at the San Francisco Green Festival and talked about the need to challenge the corporate media, and for an independent press.
In 2013, Green America and Global Exchange joined forces with Messe Stuttgart, a leading international trade show organizer, to produce Europe’s largest consumer show on sustainability, green products and fair trade.
‘Green’ is a necessity in the 21st Century, as are innovative approaches to sustainability. The Green Festivals are immense operations, yet leave a near-zero carbon imprint in their wake. Everything about Green Festivals – the people who put it together, the vendors, the products, the ideas – is cutting edge with respect to sustainability and healthy living.
“We are laying the foundation of a future sustainable global economy that will have no starving children, no clear-cut forests, no wars for oil and no endangered species. The only questions revolve around how long that will take and how we will muster the courage to save humanity from itself.” – Kevin Danaher