Santa Monica festival aims to spread unity

A fresh wind blew over Clover Park in Santa Monica this past Saturday as a theme of green was introduced at the 19th annual Santa Monica festival. Vendors, volunteers, and activists were lined up around the park to promote their work, sell their products, and invite park visitors to a variety of workshops. The festival helped raise awareness of the environmental effects caused by living in urban communities and promoting going green.

Free valet parking was ready and waiting for those who arrived by bicycle. Along with that, recycling cans had been carefully placed around the park with volunteers ready to assist those uncertain of what to recycle and what to trash.

In collaboration with Malibu and Santa Monica schools, Robert Gilliam offered a creative and fun time for all ages in his painting circle. A 12-by-15 foot canvas was spread out on the green grass and children were seen painting circles in a variety of bright colors.

Gilliam found the annual theme "ties in to what we are trying to do with our programs. Our concept is that we all have to work together, and not cover up anyone else's work," he said. "When the art work is done, everybody should be able to see their work."

Gilliam arranges art programs in Malibu and Santa Monica schools for students starting in elementary school, all throughout high school.

Sustainable Works handed out free sustainable bags made by Green Vets L.A., with the option of having your bag decorated by Rosie's girls, a middle school girl group. The bags were made of fabric waste, discarded by local Los Angeles businesses, fabric pieces that otherwise would have been put into a landfill, said environmental analyst Josephine Miller.

Sustainable shopping bags were offered to those willing to sign the "Cool Foods Campaign Pledge." The pledge was born in Washington D.C. and the city of Santa Monica was the first city to sign the pledge, banning non-recyclable containers in all food establishments and promoting reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones.

Recycling and sustainability were promoted by businesses such as Whole Foods, the Big Blue Bus, and Sparkletts drinking water. Flyers were handed out with tips and pointers on how to be more environmentally friendly with some easy choices like taking the bus to reduce gas emissions, eating local produce to reduce the environmental impact and costs of transporting products, and choosing a stainless steel canteen for your drinking water instead of purchasing water bottles.

Awareness, combined with creativity, made for a fun festival. Live Afro-Cuban music and zumba dance took to the stage and a sense of community and solidarity were displayed throughout the day in the park.

For more information about how you can get involved in the sustainable work performed by the city of Santa Monica, head to