I was a speaker at the first Living Green Expo in 2002. It was one of the first well-coordinated green living events in our region and certainly the largest. That first year brought out back-to-the earth old hippy types, local farmers and makers of goods from handmade clothes to edible pesticides for the lawn. I guess, green was seen as a bit more fringy back then. It was, after all, in the days before green became the new black.
Green is now everywhere. It is part of the local and global cultural zeitgeist. You can’t pick up a newspaper, magazine, open a website or turn on the television without seeing or hearing a green message. Now combine that green sophistication with the hawker-demo- fairgoer mentality of the Grandstand building at the State Fair Grounds in St. Paul and you’ve got one interesting event that the entire family will enjoy.
In sync with the times, The Living Green Expo has changed its organizer and is in the process of updating its image. It is no longer a program of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). An environmental non-profit, The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP), headed by Steve Morse, one time MN state legislator and green champion, is now in the driver seat. All organizations and events need to grow and evolve. This is a positive change.
The free event on May 1-2 at the State Fairgrounds Grandstand, so far, will mostly look and feel the same, but event organizers have assured me that they have added some new features and vendors. And next year even bigger and better changes are ahead. Whatever your green interest happens to be, you will be sure to find it in one of the booths or live demonstrations at the Expo. Here are some teasers:
Eat Healthy and Sustainably: More than 20 farms, farmers markets and CSAs, growing local, organic and sustainable products, including fresh flowers for the home, coffee, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and poultry, emus, trees, vegetables and fruit. Also, learn more about the benefits of local, plant-based diets and cooking sustainable foods.
Green the Home: More than 40 exhibits focused on products that help people reduce, reuse and live healthier.
Grow a Green Thumb: More than 20 exhibitors focused on helping Minnesotans with lawn and garden options, including free landscaping consultation, using native plants, planting for clean water, natural landscapes, tree care, green roofs and rain gardens, organic landscaping and water efficient irrigation. Products include rain barrels, composting options, permeable pavers, recycled rubber landscaping and recycled mulch.
New Artisan Market: Bring values into the home through more than 10 exhibits showcasing home art made from recycled and sustainable products, including masterpieces made from landfill materials and recycled metal, jewelry made from recycled glass, canvas-like art made from recycled plastic bottles and furniture and toys made from reclaimed or recycled lumber.
Explore Transportation Options: More than 10 exhibitors focused on alternate transportation, including bike to work options, new trends in bikes, including side-to-side and 4-person mobiles, alternative fuel stations and carshares, bike and map guides and electric autos.
Learn About Green Building and Energy Efficiency: Nearly 40 exhibits focused on environmentally friendly building, remodeling and construction products and services
Other New elements: including eco-lounges, workshops, a Gubernatorial Forum, Eco-Art exhibit and double the local food options.
As in the past, secure bike storage is available and Metro Transit offers free rides using the Go Greener Pass. Also if you are one of the first 200 visitors each day, you will get a free Blue Sky Guide as a gift.