If you were in search of eco-friendly apparel, local-raw-vegan-organic snacks, free massages, live feel-good music, and signing petitions to prevent deforestation, then GreenFest SF was the place to be this past weekend.
But don’t be fooled, it wasn’t all granola hippies.
Technological innovation and alternative investments were a big part of the scene, attracting and engaging thousands of visitors. With an existing understanding of today’s environmental challenges, many attendees were interested in solutions; they knew which practices and industries they do not support, and were ready to hear about proactive products and services that align with their social and environmental values.
Socially responsible investment companies lined the New Green Business section. Mosaic made an appearance and educated passers by about a new way to crowdfund clean energy projects.
The event also featured an impressive line-up of speakers: Bill McKibben (writer and 350.org activist), Amy Goodman (Host of Democracy Now), Dolores Huerta (Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient), Winona Laduke (Honor the Earth). Other notable panelists: Billy Parish (Mosaic Co-Founder and President) and his wife Wahleah Johns (former Executive Director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition).
Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director of Green America (event co-host) and author of their popular Community Investing Guide, spoke about corporate innovators. She defined corporate innovators as companies that have standalone sustainability initiatives robust and progressive enough that the entire industry would be sustainable if the other companies in that space followed suit. Gravitz applauded Ford as one of these innovators.
Ford made an effort to highlight their eco-consciousness at the event by showing off their latest fuel efficient vehicles, coordinating the waste and reuse collection system, and recognizing community non-profits.
Outside the Concourse Exhibition Center, in the heart of the SOMA district, GreenFesters enjoyed the chance to test drive Ford’s fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Ford even went the extra mile to staff sorting stations for composting, recycling and trash to minimize Greenfest waste headed for local landfills.
The Ford Community Green Grant recognized “local, innovative and actionable” non-profit initiatives, awarding one with a $5,000 grant. This year’s nominees were The Organic Fund, Re-Volv, City Slicker Farms, Plant*SF and grant recipient All One Ocean, a non-profit that raises awareness about the destructive impact of our trash on marine life and provides simple, effective ways to help clean up the ocean.
The non-profit contender, Re-Volv, was particularly intriguing since it has similar goals to Mosaic in terms of financing community solar installations, but they receive crowdfunded contributions as donations rather than investments, a defining distinction.
Event attendees enjoyed hearing about Mosaic’s model. At first glance, when walking by our booth, many assumed we were another one of the many residential solar installers that seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays. But once we got to chatting, they were pleased to realize that we’re different; that our platform provides a new way for Americans to take part in creating clean energy.
At the end of the day, that’s what matters for most people: most of us want to do well for our communities, our country and our planet, but we also want to do well for ourselves.
Hopefully, with the accelerating emergence of innovative businesses that do well by doing good, the United States and the rest of the world can pick up the pace on improving our accountability for the protection of Earth’s climate and natural resources.
To keep up with all these new environmental opportunities, checkout the family-friendly GreenFest events that will be happening all around the country in the coming months. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and more. Enjoy!