Green Festival Seattle Takeaways

This past weekend I attended Seattle’s 10th Annual Green Festival where hundreds of vendors and exhibitors enthusiastically shared their green stories. One vendor that stood out for me was Eco Tapi, developers of compostable and biodegradable paper and plastic products made out of tapioca! Not only was the product interesting, but they also had a beautiful way of merchandising such utilitarian wares. Their parent company, Green Tokyo, makes a variety of interesting eco-products.

Adjacent to the Festival, eco-vendor Shelter Kraft Werks displayed a shipping cargo container “cottage.” The company architect-turned-marine-engineer answered questions about on-the-grid, off-the-gird and hybrid-energy models and how his containers can be adapted for multiple audiences and uses.

Two main stage speakers held rock star positions and pulled maximum capacity audiences. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now is an award-winning journalist, author and unrelenting advocate of free speech. Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Ohio is a possible 2012 presidential candidate.

Festival co-founder, and Executive Director, Green America, Alisa Gravitz, introduced a panel that provided interesting insights on sustainability. Panel members included two thought leaders representing two northwest cities – Richard Conlin, Seattle City Councilmember and Alisa Kane, Portland’s Green Building Manager. The discussion touched on a range of topics including nutritional food access, security, urban farming principles and expansion of alternative transit programs.

I was impressed with the number of young people involved in the Festival this year, working as volunteers or enjoying the Green Kids’ Zone. Since diverting waste from the Festival is a core green value of the event’s organizers, teens were monitoring the recycle, compost and trash stations where they helped visitors figure out what waste went where. Additionally I spent some time enjoying music by local youth who were part of the art, culture and music stage.

To Festival organizers:
• Moving from the Washington State Convention Center to Qwest Field Event Center didn’t work well for me. Thirteen stages in one large room meant too much competition for mind share and an acoustical challenge.
• Keep coming to Seattle. You add lots of value by bringing people together from the northwest and around the country.
• Consider ways to draw in a broader less eco-conscious audience with an engaging speaker or program that might appeal to those that have not yet drunk the “green Kool-Aid.” While Greenies were in attendance en force, I would like to see the Festival reach out to less progressive audiences who might really benefit from the hundred plus instructors, classes and educational workshops that the Festival offers.

The Festival’s just a really fun way to bring friends and families together around responsible building, less energy use, better transportation, higher quality food, art and culture.

Look forward to seeing you at GreenFest12!– alex