Tuesday, May 13, 2014

World as Classroom: Organic Beer and Eco-Activists Stir Spirits at Pier 94

By Rudy Reda

For the CEC component of this class, I attended the NYC Green Festival. This festival has been the longest running sustainability festival in the country.  The event took place on April 26 at Pier 94 in Manhattan. Throughout the festival, there were many opportunities to converse with the various vendors and merchants in attendance.

What made this festival interesting was the creativity and ingeniousness of some of the vendors.  One of the most interesting items I found was the repurposing of old wine corks.  These corks have been broken up and reshaped into a flower pot, which results in a number of beneficial aspects for the basil which is now growing out of it on my kitchen counter. Additionally, there were various expositions of sustainably produced plastics, including one made of 100% sugar cane that can biodegrade. 

There was also an extensive selection of foods that were non-GMO and vegan. It was interesting to see all the different ways in which healthy food can be repurposed and made into different forms.  One of the things that I personally enjoyed taste-testing was the organic beer. As a home brewer, anything beer related automatically has my attention.  When it comes to beer, many people neglect to think that organic beer even exists. But just like any crop, hops need to be grown in a field and therefore can be subjected to pesticides and chemicals.

The NYC Green Festival had a variety of speakers and activists.  One well known speaker was Amy Goodman, founder of Democracy Now! .  Amy discussed her new book, The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope. In addition to speakers, there were activists who were trying to gather signatures to ban fracking in New York State.

Overall, the NYC Green Festival was quite an experience. From the discussions with the various vendors to seeing the creative sustainable alternative to everyday life, this festival was more than just a bunch of people selling things. It promoted a way of life; in fact, during the hours I was there, not one person was rude. Every attendee and employee was spirited and cheerful.  When the festival returns again next year, I will most likely be in attendance again, for my third year.

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