The 12th Annual Sustainable Living Fair: Overlap for All of Us

Musketeer Gripweed & The Holler! will headline the event (photo by Chelsea Anne Photography)

Editor’s note: Scene Magazine regrettably forgot to include a credit to Chelsea Anne Photography for this month’s amazing cover photography. We sincerely regret this oversight and would just like to say that Chelsea is an amazing photographer available to shoot your wedding, special event, portrait, and more. We encourage you to visit her website at chelseaannemiller.com.

By Conor Hooley

Urban, meet rural. Rural, meet urban. And, while you’re at it, learn how to build your own strawbale. The Sustainable Living Fair has spent over a decade educating and entertaining the Northern Colorado community on the topic of sustainable living, and the 12th annual installment of the fair looks to continue that tradition. Taking place on September 17 and 18 at Legacy Park, the fair will emphasize the universal appeal of sustainable living more than ever. Specifically, the message is not that sustainability is a rural phenomenon, nor an urban one – it is both. And, more importantly, that overlap is not just acknowledged, but encouraged.

“We’re trying to take the rural and the urban aspects of sustainability and come up with a fair that has something for everybody,” said fair director Ray Aberle of the Sustainable Living Association. “Regardless of what walk of life or political affiliation you’re from, you can come to it and leave with some sort of skill, new knowledge base, or contact with a new client or vendor that will be a potential of growth opportunity.”

To be sure, sustainability has become a cultural phenomenon that has permeated both pastoral and urban lifestyles alike, with self-sufficiency growing increasingly important by the day. This can be seen in countless trends, from the widespread integration of modern technology on farmlands to city dwellers building chicken coops in their own backyards.
“People are recognizing that the more they can do for themselves, the more secure they are,” said Aberle.

With that in mind, the 2011 Sustainable Living Fair will take place with three key goals in mind, all of which are based around the idea of not only establishing a sense of community, but building it, educating others about it and invigorating it.”

“Community becomes that big thing,” said Aberle. “Art, beauty, the sense of ownership and involvement. People are becoming more aware that in the last 50 years we’ve made a lot of choices that may have negatively impacted our environment, our world and our future. They want to mend some of that: to become more efficient, to save money and to look at ways to conserve.”

The Sustainable Living Association consciously looked at “common ground overlaps” when programming the event, and the result is a diverse body of activities and entertainment that will educate attendees in engaging and applicable ways.

Five high profile keynote speakers are scheduled to appear, and will cover a number of important topics regarding sustainability. They include clean energy advocate and former Director of the Governor’s Energy Office, Tom Plant, energy-conscious architectural pioneer Lori Ryker and popular eco-centric author Shannon Hayes.

This year will also feature the first ever moderated dialogue between veteran actress Sheryl Lee and 17-year-old environmental activist Alec Loorz. Lee, famous for her role as Laura Palmer on David Lynch’s acclaimed Twin Peaks television series, recently overcame a battle with the blood disorder Neutropenia. Her journey to recovery led her to a greater awareness of toxins and pollutants humans come into contact with in everyday life, as well as the importance of conscious, personal involvement in her own health and lifestyle.

Loorz is the founder of the organization Kids vs. Global Warming and the iMatter March (which took place in 140 cities worldwide). Inspired by Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Loorz has worked to develop multimedia platforms for promoting responsible, eco-friendly lifestyle choices to others his age, and has already collected a number of accolades in doing so.

The two will exchange ideas in a public forum focused on an array of sustainability-related topics, each drawing from vastly different backgrounds and experiences to educate audience members in a conversation that underscores the universal message of environmental consciousness.

The fair will also host over 70 workshops and demonstrations over the course of the weekend, ranging from strawbale building tutorials to an introductory course on harvesting native game from the Department of Wildlife. 250 local and national exhibitors will be on hand, many of them setting up shop in the tantalizing Real Food Market and Beer Garden. Vendors on hand will include New Belgium, Odell, B&B’s Pickle Barrel, Mugs Coffee Lounge, Cafe Ardour, Walrus Ice Cream and many, many more.

Also featured is the Family Planet, the festival’s youth-centered area that features activities like face painting and solar baked cookies for the kids, and workshops for the adults on topics such as “Natural Parenting.”

Last but not least, a Northern Colorado-based event such as this practically demands a choice lineup of local music, and 2011’s certainly fair has it in spades. Performances from Musketeer Gripweed, The Nu Classics, The Holler!, Kalliope and Papagoya are scheduled to take place, and all are included with the price of admission.

Tickets are $8 for single day entry and $15 for a weekend pass. Admission for children 12 and under is free. Find out more at sustainablelivingassociation.org/sustainable-living-fair.

The Nu Classics will also perform (photo by Summit Studios)

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