Monday, November 16, 2009

San Francisco Green Festival: Robbins, Newsom, Harrelson

Who: VN Publishers Joseph Connelly and Colleen Holland plus the rest of the VegNews staff
Three days of the world's largest green marketplace
Concourse Exhibition Center, San Francisco, Calif.
November 13–15, 2009
Because eating veg is the greenest thing you can do

The Scoop: Yes, it was our last trade show of the year. Yes, is was in our hometown of San Francisco. Yes, it was the eighth annual Green Festival, the joint venture of Global Exchange and Green America (formerly Co-op America), which VegNews Magazine has proudly sponsored since the very first event, held in the very same venue since 2002.

Following the Green Business Conference, attended by VN's Colleen Holland, the GF kicked off Friday at noon. If you have never been to a Green Festival (events this year were held in Seattle, Denver, Chicago, DC, and SF), what you are missing is the "nation's longest running green living event," consisting of vendors, speakers, veg food, cooking demos, a green film festival, children's activities, and did we mention vendors? Here you can find solar panels for your home, kits to convert your hybrid to a plug-in, lots of hemp (clothing, food, recreation), and a festival that actually gets the connection between diet and global warming and which has been vegetarian since day one, thanks to producer Greg Roberts.

After the Friday after-party the party really got going on Saturday morning when best-selling author and longtime friend of VegNews John Robbins was presented with the Green America Award for his "lifetime of leadership" in the vegetarian, environmental, and social justice movements. After brief, poignant introductions by Robbins' son Ocean (founder of the nonprofit Yes!) and Eco-Chef Bryant Terry (more on him in a bit), Green America's Executive Director Alisa Gravitz presented Robbins with the stylish award made, of course, of entirely recycled materials.

John Robbins accepting the Green America Award

Robbins gave a stirring four-minute acceptance speech that ended with this thought: "The purpose of life is infinite gratitude to all things past, infinite service to all things present, and infinite responsibility to all things future." Click here to watch a video of Robbins' moving words.

A new touch added to this year's festival was Soul Kitchen, a day of cooking classes coordinated by Bryant Terry, author of the excellent 2009 cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen. Back-to-back-to-back demos by Ani Phyo, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and Terry filled the afternoon with yummy treats and vegucation. The all-star chefs even found time to pose for this historic time-capsule photo:

Mangia-a-trois: Chefs Colleen Patrick Goudreau, Bryant Terry, and Ani Phyo

As the evening wound to a close, who else but San Francisco Mayor (and long-time aspiring vegetarian) Gavin Newsom stopped by the VN booth. The mayor and the magazine go way back; Newsom accepted the Veggie Award for "favorite veg city" on behalf of San Francisco at an awards banquet we threw in 2004 at Millennium Restaurant that just happened to be hosted by Green Goddess Julia Butterfly Hill.

VN Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria, VN Volunteer Extraordinaire Peter Ryan, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom, and VN Publishers Colleen Holland and Joseph Connelly

Sunday was more of the same, and while the crowds were maybe a slight bit thinner this year, the weekend was a resounding success nonetheless. After packing up it was off to MaggieMudd and Café Gratitude (yes, we ate dessert first) with Noelle Callahan and Rebecca Frye of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who were at the Green Fest to promote PCRM's Humane Charity Seal of Approval campaign, which allows donors to identify which charities provide service and care without using animals. Oh, and could that be the star of current hit movies Zombieland, 2012, The Messenger, and Defendor, Woody Harrelson, sitting at the end of the table? Oh yes it is. I shared a few words with Woody about a possible follow-up interview to VN's November 2005 interview and cover, and he flashed a smile and wink.


ani phyo said...

thanks Joe and VegNews for sponsoring this event and making SF Green Fest such a huge success. wonderful to see you all too!!

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