Here at Autonomie Project, we are gearing up for a really exciting festival. The GreenLife Eco-Fest is a two-day weekend festival nestled in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Foothills in Northern California (about 2.5 hours from San Francisco).  We are especially excited about this one, as a lot of big names are attached to speak and one of our founders, Gina, hails from the foothills.  Having this big of a festival in the small, but quaint town of Grass Valley is really great, especially since it is a zero waste celebration of all things green! 

As we mentioned, there are some big name speakers coming that we can’t wait to hear. Some we are most looking forward to include John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution, Michael A Bedar  producer of the film, Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days, Allison Cook of the Story of Stuff, and Dr. Kevin Danaher co-founder of Global Exchange/Green Festivals and writer of Building the Green Economy : Success Stories From the Grassroots. And on top of these lovely speakers and more, there is some absolutely great workshops, such as: Growing Mushrooms, Biodynamic Gardening, Natural Building, Green Energy, and Reading GMO Labels.

If that wasn’t enough of a reason to hike up to the foothills, there will also be FREE bike tune-ups given by People Powered Alliance, a clothing swap, and the Haute Trash Fashion Show which is fashion made out of “trash.”  If you love shopping there will also be about 120 green and eco vendors, including yours truly.  And don’t forget about awesome healthy food vendors and music. Really, this festival sounds like one big green party, but not the political kind.

If you are in the area or would like to take a beautiful drive/train ride through the California foothills, come stop by! If you come to our booth, you can check out our NEW products such as eco-friendly, Fair Trade dog toys and leashes! We promise you won’t regret it. Hope to see you there!

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 23rd & 24th. 10am-7pm with music until 9pm on Saturday

Where: North Star House, Old Auburn Road, Grass Valley, CA

Cost: Free! $5.00 for workshops and $20 for all day speaker pass

Why: Because it’s going to rock!

Last week we were happy to attend San Francisco’s first annual Green Film Festival!  About a month ago the festival organizers gave us a ring and ordered custom fair trade tees from our wholesale department. We were honored and pretty excited they would choose us to make their festival tees. But we were also excited to attend the festival. Due to us always working hard at Autonomie and with so many new products coming in for Spring, we could only make it to one film!

This was a difficult choice as the festival was stocked with tons of great environmental documentaries from all over the world. Almost every film on the list was followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.  Many films were making their US or West Coast premiere, so we had a tough time choosing which film to attend. Titles included “They Came for the Gold, They Came for it All,” “In the Wake of the Flood,” and “Plato’s Cave,” just to name a few.

After some pondering, we finally decided on the film “Heavy Metal,” a submission from China which explored the issues of e-waste and documented people in China who have created their own “e-waste dismantling army.” It was going to be paired with the short “The Story of Electronics,” by the people who brought you the “The Story of Stuff.” Immediately following the film was the panel: E-Waste and Green Design. We were really looking forward to this panel, as it was going to be a discussion about the destruction caused by electronics and an exploration on ways to make the industry more sustainable.


So we hopped on the train and headed to the Embarcadero, but to our dismay, the film and panel had been cancelled. Apparently, the filmmakers were unable to make the trip from China. Luckily, one of our second choices was starting in only 15 minutes time. We decided to go see the movie “Soundtracker” with the short “The Coral Gardener.” Although initially disappointed about the cancellation of “Heavy Metal,” we were pleasantly surprised with our choice.

Before the film started, we made a pit stop to the cinema cafe, where we were delighted to find fair trade organic coffee as well as vegan cookies and vegan “sausages.” Well stocked on snacks and already in a good mood, we headed for our seats. The first film, “The Coral Gardener” was a quick eight minute short from the BBC about a passionate man working to replenish coral on the coast of Fiji. Corals are beginning to disappear from our seas due to coral bleaching caused by environmental stressors. There is a movement to grow healthy coral and re-plant them in hard hit areas.

The short was informative, inspiring, and made us want to get involved in the movement.  In fact, during the Q&A, we found out there is a whole organization: Corals For Conservation dedicated to this cause and they are always looking for volunteers. Snorkeling in tropical waters to help the Earth? We are there!  We also learned this short was made as a part of a BBC series on passionate people and may be turned into a full feature at some point. We will keep our eyes out for that!

The second, longer film: “Soundtracker” was actually a beautiful piece of filmmaking. Not only was it an interesting and largely ignored topic, but the cinematography and insight were truly a treat! The film follows Gordon Hempton, an Emmy award-winning sound recordist, as he travels through the Northwest on his search for the sounds of nature. Throughout the film you see Hempton attempt to record beautiful natural sounds, only to be interrupted by constant “noise pollution,” such as airplanes, helicopters, and cars. He points out that nature’s noise is disappearing at an alarming rate and man-made sounds are becoming the norm.

Hempton is an eccentric man, who has an obsession, much like a visual artist, to prefect sound. He seems to have made personal sacrifices and lives a fairly solitary life on his pursuit of the sound of nature. It may seem like an abstract concept and in reality it is, but Hempton has a point.  He is a very gripping person who almost turns his quest spiritual.  The film really drives home the lack of connection between humanity and the Earth. At one point in the film, he visits a large cedar tree that has been turned into a monument with the trunks of cut cedars all around it. He begins to get emotional and see it as almost a battle memorial to the fallen forest that once stood here.  To him, it is clear we have lost much of our connection as no one is “listening” and he even references the hum of electricity as “America’s mantra.”

By the end of the film, we felt connected to Hempton and  realized what a beautiful artist he really is. It also made you really, really think how little we get to hear complete natural sounds. We started to think of all the times we have had moments camping or out in the wilderness and how often we hear human noise pollution. It was definitely a different take on what is happening to our planet than other green films we have seen.

We also noticed that after the movie was complete, our ears were far more sensitive. We could hear our hands brush our hair, the sound of someone tapping their feet, and even people breathing. As we left the theater and walked through the rainy streets of San Francisco, we noticed we could hear the sounds of birds thundering over the horns, trains, and human voices. This deep film really is an abstract look on the destruction of our planet and will leave you seeing, or rather hearing nature in a different way.

We enjoyed both films immensely and certainly hope the Green Film Festival becomes an annual event in San Francisco! If you missed the festival, be sure to check out some of the films discussed above!

It’s time again to pack our bags and head out West! This year’s Seattle Greenfest is taking place this weekend, March 28th and 29th. Greenfest is a joint event put on by Green America and Global Exchange to spread awareness of green and fair trade issues. We, along with Fair Trade Sports have a booth at this year’s event. And are really excited to go!

If you are in the Seattle area, please stop by and visit us and the many other green/fair trade companies and organizations exhibiting there. We will be in Booth 1217 in the Fair Trade section. Not only will you have a chance to check out great companies and do some shopping, just in time for spring, but you will have a chance to meet amazing people and hear some great speakers. This year’s line up includes Danny Glover, John Perkins, Amy Goodman, and many many more! And for the first time ever this year’s event will feature a Live Blogging Zone, where visitors are asked to tell their friends all about the events of the day!

Seriously Greenfests are amazing places to meet like minded people and discover amazing companies and products with great missions. So please come on down and check it out! Come visit us and get a special event price on sneakers or just to say hi! Hope to see you there!!!

When: March 28-29, 2009

Saturday 10AM – 7PM  and Sunday 11AM – 6PM

Where:

Washington State Convention & Trade Center
800 Convention Place
Seattle, WA

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