LIKE AN AWE-INSPIRING EXPO OR WORLD’S FAIR DEPICTING A BRIGHTER, SMARTER FUTURE that’s here and now—that’s how the Green Festival first struck me upon attending last spring in Seattle: the buzz, the energy, the openness, the innovation, the people, the free trade of ideas and insights, and the contagious passion for wanting to actualize the world a cleaner, healthier, more-inclusive place. I like to think of it as an inspiring place where there are more yeasayers than naysayers. And now the annual two-day event, presented by Global Exchange and Green America, is back in Seattle this weekend (June 5 and 6 at the Washington State Convention Center), bigger and better than ever, with Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute just added as a featured speaker.

What else can you expect? Well, try immersion in a world already gone green in innumerable ways, and all on constant display and readily available for easy interaction, badinage and play. Not bad for $15, which gets you in both days and provides access to all speaker presentations and festival events (see the complete schedule for details). Seattle’s Green Festival will feature a Music, Arts & Culture Room, Community Action Pavilion, Green Living Pavilion, Fair Trade & Social Justice Pavilion, Local Food & Farming Pavilion, DIY Zone (featuring hands-on workshops), Green Kids’ Zone, Blue Corner (all things aquatic) and Exhibitor Marketplace. It’s a lot to take in, even spread across an entire weekend.

The not-to-miss Exhibitor Marketplace can be a bit overwhelming (there are more than 350 businesses spread throughout the exhibit hall), and my recommendation is to hit it early before it gets too crowded and difficult to maneuver in a timely manner. It’s a great opportunity to wander serendipitously and see the latest developments in green products and services, and to chat with the people either behind them or representing them. Talk about rapidly emerging markets in the new green economy—this is positive ground zero, where you’ll find everything from wind-energy-powered web host providers and sustainably grown herbs to electric bikes and green burials/home funerals (yep, you read that right, the ultimate in cradle-to-grave-and-back self-realization).

In addition to Lovins, the many speakers well worth seeing in Seattle include Amy Goodman, John Perkins, Thom Hartmann, David Korten and festival-cofounder Kevin Danaher. But this event—which also takes place at various dates in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago—is about much more than merely listening to an informed quorum of speakers: it’s about the strong vibe, getting sweaty-palmed, heartbeat-aflutter caught up in a momentum-gaining movement that transcends social, political, commercial and religious/ethical/philosophical boundaries, and becoming part of something that’s attempting to affect true positive change in an era sadly being defined by financial scandals and hardships, environmental degradation and disaster, political stalemate and savagery, across-the-board apathy and, well, let me stop there—the Green Festival is for, lest we forget, yeasayers not naysayers.

I hope you can make the Seattle event this weekend, but if not, Washington and San Francisco Green Festivals take place this fall. All aboard the brighter, smarter future that’s here and now.

Allen

PrintTHE IN-AGAIN TERM “NEGAWATT” CONJURES ELECTRO-DYNAMIC VISIONS of both simple solutions that hearken back to pre-combustible-engine horse-and-buggy times and complex cyclopean constructs more aligned with sci-fi pie-in-the-sky dreams of a better, brighter tomorrow. Both visions are valid, both consider energy conservation from a near and far view, that is, a personal and societal perspective, and both are by no means mutually exclusive.

Considered one way, as Planet Green relates, “the greenest power of all is the Negawatt—the power you don’t use. The first thing you should be doing is just doing less, investing in CFL and LED lighting, turning off switches, junking your fridge if it is older than 10 years, and hanging your laundry on a line.”

Another way has it, and this from Thomas Friedman’s “The Energy Internet: When IT Meets ET” chapter of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, is a future realization of the “E.C.E.” (Energy-Climate Era) through a vast, interconnected, back-and-forth smart grid—this is the grandiose view from space, where “an Energy Internet would enable you, me, and your next-door neighbor to do extraordinary things by way of saving energy [negawatt = a unit of energy saved] and using clean power efficiently, and do them around the clock, all the time, whether or not you’re thinking about it.” This is also where individuals, organizations both public and private, big business and government(s) will have to agree on an executable plan (or many), strategy and tactics that efficaciously move forward such a grid, not get tied up in endless red tape, petty squabbling and boardroom fisticuffs that lead to insurmountable impasse and failure. Read More »