Portland’s Green Festival inspires and empowers

For the first time in its 14-year history, the Green Festival, the largest and longest-running green living event, visited the Portland Convention Center on Dec. 11 through 13.

Corinna Basler, the President of Green Festival, Inc., was thrilled to be in Portland and is hopeful about the future of the green movement.

“I believe there is no limitation, nowadays, in doing good. There is so much to do,” Basler said. “And who should do it, if not us? We cannot delay it to the next generation. We have to be the change and we have to make the difference.”

She said that it’s easy to look to others and complain about everything that’s wrong in the world. Instead, she suggested we start with our own individual responsibility. That’s the festival’s mission: to inspire and empower consumers, companies and local communities.

Thousands of people attended the event, which showcased over 200 sustainable brands, vendors and partners. It featured vegan, vegetarian, non-GMO and gluten-free food, along with local wine and beer. There were products for wellness, fashion, home and garden, construction, design and renewable energy. Educational activities, a Family Fun Pavilion and yoga classes were also offered.

Additionally, the festival hosted an impressive array of speakers. Tara Mackey, a singer, environmentalist and now author, spoke for the first time about her new book Cured By Nature: How To Heal From The Inside Out, Find Happiness & Discover Your True Self. She’s determined to inspire people by diffusing the notion that green living is an expensive chore.

“People need to know that there are alternatives to your health that don’t come in a neat orange bottle with your name on it,” Mackey said. “They come in the form of learning yourself, setting new standards, getting in touch with nature and sometimes—just being inspired!”

Milan Ross was another speaker with a compelling story. He spent over a decade battling obesity; at his heaviest, he weighed 518 pounds. But his life changed when he started working for Whole Foods when they sent him on a seven-day, all-expense-paid immersion at a five-star beach resort in Naples, Florida, led by Dr. Scott Stolls. In just that week he immediately lost his first 33 pounds.

“For me, this has been life-changing,” Ross said.

Since that trip in October of 2013, Ross has not only lost 225 pounds but is releasing his first book (co-authored with Dr. Stolls) in January of 2016 and founded the company Full Circle Vegan, which has its first product line coming out in Whole Foods this month.

However, Ross sees his veganism as more than a diet, and his company emphasizes that this is truly a lifestyle.
“Even though I started for health reasons, I realize that there’s a compassionate component,” Ross said. “There is an environmental component that we need to be cognizant of.”

He loves the sense of community that Green Festivals foster, and he’s incredibly optimistic about the future of the green movement.

“Now people are starting to ask questions. They’re starting to say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do this. There’s got to be a better way,’” Ross said. “The time has changed.”

With so many activities to choose from, products to sample and speakers to learn from, the Green Festival had a successful Portland debut and is already looking forward to next year. And if Ross is right, this may just be the beginning of more green-inspired events.

“I believe, more than anything, that the entire green frenzy and movement is on the cusp of exploding,” Ross said.