In 2002, Green America (then Co-op America) and Global Exchange launched a new, visionary, and exciting event to build the green economy that quickly spread from coast to coast. Our idea was weekend-long celebrations, Green Festivals, to introduce people to the purpose, products, services, and impacts of an economy that truly works for people and the planet. For those already committed to green living, Green Festivals provided even more inspiration, opportunity, and information to help them take further steps to green their homes, communities, and workplaces.
For sixteen years, Green Festivals have changed and enriched the lives of diverse people of all ages, bringing them into direct contact with some of the most creative and committed businesses that support social justice and environmental sustainability. Fair trade goods, organic food, clean energy, cruelty-free personal care, things you never knew could be recycled, values-based investing and banking, educational workshops, cooking demonstrations, yoga, music, kid zones, energizing speakers, and more! Green Festivals have been an extravaganza of what’s possible to achieve when we apply our minds and hearts to economic decisions. The Festivals also supported green businesses, not only through customers, but through networking and seminars for green business leaders from dozens of sectors.
In many ways, the mission of Green Festivals was achieved, as more and more communities adopted green practices and welcomed green business to their main streets. By 2012-2013, it was clear that Green America and Global Exchange needed a new partner for Green Festivals to provide financial capacity and take it to a scale that two non-profits could not.
We were thrilled in 2013 when the German sustainability group Messe Stuttgart assumed leadership and ownership of the Green Festivals with support from Green America and Global Exchange. Green Festivals reached new cities and audiences as it also explored new approaches.
Given the broad interest in the green economy now, and the widespread availability of green products in many local communities and online, the time for Green Festivals having played a special role in catalyzing the green economy may have come and gone.
So after a long and laudable run, in August 2017, Messe Stuttgart decided to close Green Festival. Here at Green America, we will continue our work to build the green economy through new strategies and opportunities.
We thank our partners, green businesses, and Festival participants for supporting what became the largest and longest-running sustainability event in the United States. We especially appreciate all of our friends at Messe Stuttgart and the Green Festival team in Asheville, NC, for taking on Green Festivals in 2013 when we could not. We all have much to be proud of as we pursue our commitment to an economy that works for all of us and for the earth.