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Garden Katha - Hottest Summer: Green Challenge - Boston GreenFest 2010

Sreemoti Mukerjee-Roy and Karen Weber

Garden Katha – Hottest Summer : Green Challenge - Boston GreenFest 2010


This has been one of the hottest summers in living memory. Not just here in the United States but all over the world. And while the debate about the causes for this phenomenon continues, I look at my lawn that dares me to keep it green--as I am sure does yours and everyone else’s. I realize that the green that we have taken for granted in this part of the world with its apparently abundant resources, will need more renewable or greener ways to sustain it than mere wishful thinking. To find out what sustainable means are available and what we can do to keep our gardens and our environment healthy and green, I participated in this year’s Boston GreenFest 2010 (BGF 2010) organized by the Foundation for a Green Future, Inc.


Taking place at the Boston City Hall Plaza on August 19-21, and in its third year now, BGF 2010 is indeed the largest multicultural environmental festival in the region. It engaged many of our neighborhoods and people in our area who come from many diverse backgrounds.  The message behind this event is that we must work together to heal our world and we can start here.  The sooner we make healthy and sustainable choices, not only as individuals, but as neighborhoods and communities, the sooner we will reap the benefits.


Two hundred exhibitors, vendors and restaurants of varied backgrounds displayed their wares, discussed products, services and ideas and shared mouth-watering yet healthy food (yes healthy was tasty!) from many cuisines. The festival also had a strong representation of sponsors.  The community, corporations, small businesses and, our colleges recognizing the importance of green connections, joined in enthusiastically. Over 80 live performances from across five continents took place on three stages.  These included music, dance, theatre, and more. 


The festival began on Thursday evening with a Native American Drum and Dance Ceremony performed by members of the Wampanoag and Narragansett tribes. On Friday, there was a special launch of the World Peace Tour in Honor of Ravi Shankar's 90th birthday. Paul Livingstone, world-renowned sitar disciple of Shankar, and director of the Arohi ensemble came all the way from Los Angeles.  He joined Akshay Navaladi, tabla player from the Boston area.  Their stunning performance helped connect East and West.


The festival offered several special features that included a Green Jobs Forum at the State House, opened by keynote speaker, Former Governor Michael Dukakis; a Green Speakers Series at which Prof. Ken Gnanakan, visiting from Bangalore, India, spoke about International Perspectives on Water and Climate; and a GreenFilmFest offering the films HOME, FRESH and FLOW.  The One Gallon Challenge took place with some interesting efficient vehicles that crossed Massachusetts from Northampton to Boston.  A one-of-its-kind vehicle that was showcased this year came from Switzerland.  It was a solar and wind powered three-wheel car that pulled its "fuel" as a tractor attached behind.  Its driver/engineer, Marc Muller, part of the nonprofit group ICARE, is on a world tour to bring awareness to the ways in which we can transform our transportation.  Boston GreenFest was the first stop on the US visit.  After many stops across our country, Marc is taking the car down to Buenos Aires and then across to India.


BGF’s artist in residence, Cindy Snodgrass, supported by funds from State Street, helped children and adults paint an eco-friendly world and green architect, Franziska Amacher, helped people visualize and constructing the festival's signature Time Tunnel.  The exhibits reflected the importance of greening our urban spaces with gardens, green roofs, living walls; eco options for our home, transportation, fashion, food and health; and information about our resources of water, energy, and land.


This year's event was bottled-water free (MWRA provided a water station) and all waste was composted.  These are huge gains for a large public festival of this dimension. There were over 75,000 visitors, a significant increase from previous years.


BGF 2010 was an amazing success. The brainchild of Dr. Karen Weber, Founder and CEO of the Foundation who inspires people to join the cause with her boundless energy and grace, the festival was almost entirely staffed by an incredible group of volunteers. Outreach was done on foot by a group of school and college student with whom I had the privilege of working closely. Growing up in the city, with little or no green in their environment, these young people were imbued with the spirit of the mission.  I saw the transformation in them from what on earth is this to connecting the dots:  that we are all a part of this and, to echo Jill Stein (the Green-Rainbow Party candidate for Massachusetts Governor who spoke at BGF 2010), we need to own this process.

Written by Sreemoti Mukerjee-Roy and Karen Weber





Sreemoti Mukerjee-Roy can be reached at florasree@gmail.com


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1.HcodFNJzPTMBgCKvwQ August 24, 2011Summer 

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