12 March 2010

Green Festival San Francisco 2009

The images of this post are copyright Rob D. Guettler and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Contact "rgweb 'at' meldedbits.org" (replace 'at' with @) for commercial use requests.

The 8th Annual Green Festival was held in San Francisco 13 to 15 Nov. 2009 at the Concourse Exhibition Center. The gathering brings together the many facets of the green movement. Food, fashion, technology, and media all strut their green stuff. I was a media photography volunteer for the festival on Saturday and Sunday. Highlights of the shoot are below, and a full set of select photos is available. Click any image to enlarge.

The Concourse Exhibition Center is especially appropriate for the Green Festival. The structure is a wood and steel framed building likely rehabilitated from origins in rail transportation warehousing. The street-level building has a bright glass foyer, and the space allows natural light in much of the floor plan. Both elements made for some good subject lighting.

What to do after you've collected a year's worth of trash and recycling? If you are Kuros Zahedi and Ari Derfelwas, you make art. Finding Away (2008) made by Kuros Zahedi from Ari Derfelwas's year of saving trash formed a metaphorical and literal backdrop for the festival as the striking backdrop for the Main Stage. A close-up of Finding Away shows the detail behind the work.

As I began photographing the exhibit hall on Saturday morning, the sound of drumming boomed through the hall. My reward for seeking the source was to find Calpulli Tonalehqueh performing for the opening ceremony on the main stage. Although the stage format constrained their ability to deliver a traditional ceremony, the group adapted well and provided a beautiful and fitting opening to the festival.

Seeing the local enterprises I support and value at the Green Festival is a treat. My favorite grocery, Rainbow Grocery, is a regular exhibitor and has available pieces of local organic produce. As a strong supporter of local food, they indicated the orchard on a map next to the apples. This practice of identifying producers is carried over from the store. Their fresh produce typically identifies the grower, and their extensive bulk food section identifies local suppliers.

KALW 91.7 is my favorite radio station, and they are an active supporter of Green Festival. In addition to their booth presence, KALW broadcast live from the show on Saturday afternoon. Finding their broadcast "studio" location took a bit of work, but what they lacked in prominence, they made up for in content. As always, KALW does a lot with a little. They interviewed many of the notable speakers from the day's presentations, including Kevin Danaher, co-founder of Global Exchange.

Not surprisingly, the Green Building Pavilion was a green building- both reusable and made from renewable materials. The bamboo structure also featured solar power, wind power and hydroponics.

Food abounds at the Green Festival. Fresh food, prepared food and beverages provide a chance to revisit the familiar and try the new. Food is available for purchase and for sampling. Fresh fruit and vegies abound, and Strawberry Fields had attractive fruit presentations for their blended fruit smoothies.

Unlike the usual art exhibits, the Geo-Frequencies Eco-Art Pavilion combined traditional media with living art. The visually striking Flower Mandala (2009) by Aaron Ezra Ableman of CommuniTree evolved as the cut plants and flowers aged over the days of exhibition. Kijiji Grows featured a self-contained aquaponic (aqua-culture + hydroponic) garden fed and purified by living fish (with a little help from bacteria). Their systems are available in a variety of configurations to fit a wide range of size and financial constraints.

Green Festival is a joint project of Global Exchange and Green America (formerly Coop America). Global Exchange had a large store on site featuring fair-trade and sustainable products, including colorful bags and fabrics.

In the Green America booth, festival participants recorded video messages of their green resolutions as part of the "I am a Green American" campaign.

Both sponsors, and the festival as a whole, rely heavily on volunteers to make the event happen. Thanks to all the worker volunteers, businesses and presenters for a great festival.

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