Before I even begin to launch into this celebration of a post, I have to stop, straight away, and say:
A few months ago, back in February, I put out a call for help. A fundraising effort that would allow me to bring a vegan presence to Santa Barbara’s Earth Day festival, to help people begin to make the connection between their food and the fate of our environment (for reference, here is my post from Earth Day 2013, which sparked this whole campaign).
And my goodness, you guys. You came through! The donations rolled in, some large and some small, and every single one so very much appreciated. And because of you, we were able to bring our message of “Eat Plants, Save The Planet!” to this year’s Earth Day festival. Because of your donations, we were able to: rent a booth to promote veg*nism as an integral part of environmentalism, to fill that booth with literature connecting diet to environmental impact (like this Meat’s Not Green leaflet – printed on recycled paper!), provide coloring sheet activities for kids (My Vegan Plate) along with cruelty-free crayons (most are not vegan and contain bees wax or tallow-derived stearic acid – the only widely-available vegan ones I know of are these), provide adorable vegan/cruelty-free message stickers for kids and adults alike, and allow me to print up three gorgeous, full-color, re-uasable infographic posters which clearly and concisely lay out the case for environmental veganism.
YOU made that possible. There’s no way I could have done it without you, so thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. And on behalf of the Earth and the animals. Thank you.
There’s so much to say about this event, I hardly know where to start. As you guys may remember, after the post I wrote last year, I was contacted by the director of the event (and assistant director of the Community Environmental Council (CEC), the awesome non-profit that coordinates SB Earth Day each year), and asked to come in and share my concerns with the crew. Which I did . . . with much trepidation.
But what I found was a group of people with open minds and open hearts, who were willing to listen and who were ready to make changes. Were they all going vegan? No. And that’s okay. What’s important is that they really understood that this is one piece of the puzzle – an important piece – and one that they wanted to include.
So I worked with the CEC here and there throughout the year, meeting with the assistant director, Sigrid, to offer my ideas and mull over the various issues they faced. I feel incredibly honored to have been asked to be a part of this process. I’m not quite sure what compelled Sigrid to reach out and invite me into this incredible community, but I will be forever grateful. Because the people I’ve met at the CEC, and through Earth Day, have inspired me – have lit a DAMN FIRE under my tail and in my heart – and may very well change the course of my life.
We had such an amazing time running our little booth, and I have to give a HUGE shout-out to the Santa Barbara Vegan Meet-Up group, who came through volunteering their time and (wo)manpower. Especially special thanks to Kirk, Alexandra + family, and Sam + the wunder-dog Miss Maya. It was so amazing meeting, connecting, and spending the weekend with you guys!
As for the event, there were many, many differences I saw between last year and this year. Most notably, there were no live farm animals (YAY!), and the only live animals I saw were the rescued and rehabilitated raptors over at the SB Wildlife Care Network (a great organization in its own right). There were also a few pooches up for adoption, and they enjoyed a day fully of belly-rubbin’ love. But other than that, no live animals. No animals for entertainment!
And this year, there was an event-wide standardized system for labeling concessions, from vegan to vegetarian, non-GMO to organic, and more. Every single vendor had their signage on display, clearly labeling each dish as well as offering their unique approach towards food, and the local farms that they favor. As well, every single vendor was encouraged to offer at least one vegetarian option. That was amazing!
The signs looked like this:
Those two things alone were such an enormous shift from the year before, that I could hardly believe how quickly and completely the change was made. And I wasn’t the only one who was impressed, not by a long shot. I spoke to so many people who noticed, and noted their appreciation, for the shift. Amazing!
And ooh! Ooh! Did I tell you about The Sexy Vegan??
As the year was progressing and I was working with the CEC, I floated the idea of inviting well-known/celebrity vegans to participate in the festival, since there’s multiple stages with all sorts of speakers and events going on for the full 2 days. They gave the green light, and I immediately thought of Brian Patton, AKA The Sexy Vegan, who I’d seen working his sexy vegan magic at Vida Vegan Con last year.
Long story short, I reached out to Brian, he agreed to donate his time, we had him up for a food demo/ukelele serenade, and he taught an audience of veg-curious non-vegetarians how to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet (and why our Earth would thank you for doing so). It was AWESOME, and Brian is charming and adorable and funny and did I mention charming? Plus he sings songs about bacon that make me swoon.
THANK YOU BRIAN!!!
And this wasn’t all! There was also Indian food (which we ate but none of the pics came out), artisan kombucha, superfood-spiked lemonade, locally-made gourmet popcorn, and an entirely locally-sourced beer garden! The food this year was incredible; delicious AND inspiring. Bravo!
The event was a full 2 days. 37,000 people came through. And we were there, planting seeds.
This is Sigrid, the assistant director of the CEC and the woman who’s in charge of putting on Earth Day. And, the one who contacted me and and invited me in for a meeting, who was open to listening to some random chick on the internet, who invited me to join in the adventure that is Earth Day – invited me in with open arms. She is an amazing role model, a woman who has influenced and inspired me in ways I’m sure she doesn’t even realize. And I feel lucky to know her. Thank you Sigrid!
And now, just one final “thank you” before I’m done. To the person who I *truly*, but no really literally, could not have done this without. Jeremy is my rock, my cheerleader, my tireless worker. He is the one who sees my visions as clearly and as grandly as I see them, who always pushes to make things as amazing as they can possibly be. So thank you, my partner in adventure, in activism, and in life. Thank you for being so flippin’ awesome all the damn time. Thank you.
By the end of the weekend, I’ll admit it, I was physically exhausted. That was a LOT of work!
But on my insides? I am all lit up. Ignited. Ready for more.
This is only the beginning, I can feel it way down deep inside. Ya here that Earth Day 2015?! It’s just the beginning.
Let’s change the world!
♥ ♥ ♥