The Chicago Green Festival From An Exhibitor's Perspective


Two roving TreeHugger reporters, Jeff McIntire-Strasburg and myself, were in effect over the weekend at the Chicago Green Festival. Somehow the fact that both of us would be there working on our non-treehugger jobs had not been communicated to either of us, but by happy coincidence we bumped into each other and it was another great 'global TreeHugger writers finally meet' moment! Having been lucky enough to attend the Green Festival in San Francisco last November as a reporter, it was very interesting to return to the event again as an exhibitor. I was able to see the event from a totally different, but certainly no less busy, angle. I am sure Jeff would agree that the most frustrating thing about being an exhibitor at such a large event is how much you miss out on, with 30 000 people passing through the doors in two days there is just not a single spare moment to go and enjoy the amazing variety of presentations on offer or scout out any new and exciting green businesses or products. Jeff by all appearances was very busy promoting his recently launched venture Green Options with Shea Gunther, it seemed they couldn't sign up people for their carbon offsetting scheme fast enough! I was on the other side of the hall in the Fair Trade Pavilion representing the Kallari Association, selling extraordinary quantities of organic Ecuadorian chocolate.


The wonderful thing was to be able to tell people the story behind Kallari chocolate and see the estatic look on their faces when they tasted it! But I discovered that selling is tough job - speaking to a great percentage of 30 000 people over 2 days is quite a challenge - unsurprisingly I am sounding rather croaky today! Luckily for me I was promoting a product that I genuinely believe in. I could probably say the same for almost all exhibitors at the festival - this for me is one of the key points of this event - the inspiration comes from meeting and hearing so many passionate people.

On the rare moments that I escaped from the Kallari booth I really enjoyed meeting some of these passionate exhibitors. I found just enough time to put my TreeHugger hat on to interview Nasser Abufarha from the Palestinian Fair Trade Organisation about his amazing company Canaan, producers of organic olive oil and other delicacies. Thanks to TH's Sami Grover for pointing me his way. Look out for a post about Nasser and Canaan Fair Trade soon. I also managed to bump into another TreeHugger friend Josh Dorfman - yes The Lazy Environmentalist himself had made it out of his armchair all the way to Chicago! He seemed to be having lots of fun interviewing people at the Lime Radio booth and he had with him the first copy of his new book, which should be on the bookstore shelves near you very soon.

It was a great two days - full of energy and positivity - we'd love to hear about your experiences at the Festival. Please let us know about any cool new products you saw or any particularly inspiring talks. If you missed the event completely you will be able to hear podcasts and interviews from the Festival online. ::The Green Festival

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