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Santa Monica Festival 2008:

Whether you are young or old, this year’s Santa Monica Festival gave you the opportunity to learn more about how to live a greener, healthier and more sustainable life in Santa Monica.

It’s “a chance for our whole community to come together and celebrate the arts, the diversity of our community, and our commitment to the environment here in Santa Monica,” stated City Council member Kevin McKeown in his festival opening remarks on the Ocean Stage.

A green purpose was evident in everything from the way food was served to the way the entertainment venues were powered for this 17th Santa Monica Festival. Aaron Paley who is a co-founder of the Community Arts Resources (CARS), the producer of the festival, in an interview with the Mirror noted that he “has been shepherding this festival since 1992” and that this was the second year that it was “zero waste.” All food vendors were asked to use compostable materials for disposable cups, food containers and cutlery. In addition, there were zero waste stations staffed by volunteers where people were instructed on how to dispose of their garbage. Excess food went into compost bins for the City to compost.

All aspects of the festival that required electricity were powered by renewable energy sources including solar, wind or geothermally generated power. Paley also mentioned the festival made an attempt to offset the CO2 footprint from all festival goers by attempting to estimate the number of people coming, how many miles they will drive and then planting trees in another location through Terrapass.com. Facilities were also available for those who wished to recycle small electronic devices like cell phones.

According to Paley, the festival had 87 booths this year and attracted between 12,500 to 15,000 attendees. Some booths highlighted upcoming City events like the 100th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Pier or the opening in 2009 of the Annenberg Community Beach House. Other booths were filled with vendors selling environmentally friendly products while booths in the Eco Zone offered environmentally smart solutions to daily living from non-profit organizations and the City.

Several workshops were also available that used recycled materials including the re: Fashion Workshop with Ann Closs-Farly where youthful participants got to make clothes and then show off their creations at a fashion show on the re: Fashion Catwalk.

As in years past, the City provided the bulk of the funding for the festival. This year’s City contribution of $111,000 according to Paley “triggers investment back into the City” because the City receives sales taxes, business taxes and business license taxes from the vendors who participated in the festival. Verizon, Wachovia Bank, Energy Efficiency, Whole Foods, Patagonia, Sparkletts, Western Bagel, Watt Management, Cushman & Wakefield, Cabi Developers and Tribeca West provided the remainder of the funding.

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