We’ve Seen The Future And It Is Green

    ST. PAUL — On Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7, the Grandstand Building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds will come alive with futuristic vehicles, people who believe we can all be green, and food that is out of this world. Yes, the future is now, it’s green and it’s all at the 2006 Living Green Expo.

    At the fifth annual Living Green Expo, Minnesotans of all shades of green can find ways to lead lives that are healthier and Mother Nature-approved. The expo is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The first 200 families at the Expo on both days will receive a complimentary Blue Sky Guide: The Coupon Book for Healthy Living. The book is filled with coupons and information and is a tool for positive change in the Twin Cities.

    More than 200 exhibitors from across the region make the Expo the largest environmental event in Minnesota. New exhibitors this year include Daisy Glass, Natural Built Home, Eco-Chic Boutique and Purrfect Play. The Expo highlights nine areas for people to explore: transportation, energy, home building and remodeling, food, yard and garden, lifestyle and recreation, household products and practices, sustainability education, and the arts and culture.

    New This Year — Fashion, Art & Music: The expo’s first Eco-Fashion Show hits the runway on Saturday, May 6, at 2 p.m. The show features the latest in clothing and accessories from local "green" clothiers, including Wild Rose Farm, Birch Clothing, Patagonia, Brown Belly and Eco-Sprouts.

    On Saturday, from 1-4 p.m., older children and teens can help paint a large environmentally friendly landscape mural with world-renowned local artist Ta-coumba Aiken. Aiken’s other local works include working on the 200-foot Celebration of Life mural formerly at Lyndale and Seventh Street in North Minneapolis (created by the late John Bigger), a ceramic frieze for the Midtown Exchange Transit Bus Stop, and the Gillette Children’s Hospital mural in St. Paul.

    The weekend’s musical acts and cultural performances take place on the music stage on the second floor of the Grandstand Building. Local artists include The Owls and The Spaghetti Western String Co. On Saturday, Aztec dancers from Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc perform traditional dances, while Sunday will feature Native American drummers from Heart of the Earth School, performing traditional songs, dance and rhythms.

    I Do Like Green Eggs and Ham: Discover how delicious going green is! New this year, several local companies are featuring tasty organic foods, including slices from Galactic Pizza, sushi from Coastal Seafood, south-of-the-border foods from Caf? of the Americas, organic bread and bakery goodies from French Meadow Caf?, and organic and biodynamic wines from France 44. Enjoy tasty organic samples from Twin Cities Natural Food Co-ops.

    The Food and Farm Festival is back! Co-sponsored by the Land Stewardship Project and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown Program, the Festival features 20 farmers from around the region. Sign up to get your food from Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A) farms. C.S.A. farms deliver a variety of locally produced foods, including fresh-from-the-ground vegetables and fruits, grass-fed beef and other organically raised meats. The deliveries generally feed a family of four and cost between $350 and $500 a year.

    Knowledge is Green: This year’s Living Green Expo features 66 workshops covering topics from "Organic Lawn and Landscape Care" to "Car Wars! Technology Strikes Back." The workshops are 45-60 minutes long and run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All presentations are free and open to the public.

    The 2006 Expo also features two keynote speakers. On Saturday at 1 p.m., Will Steger, the arctic explorer and Minnesota native, discusses the environmental changes he’s seen after 40 years of expeditions. And on Sunday at 1 p.m., Wanda Urbanska, the host of PBS’s Simple Living, shares ways to lead a simpler, less stressful life. Both keynote events are free and held on the second level of the Grandstand Building.

    Kid Tested, Mother Nature Approved: Kids will have loads of fun with more kid-friendly activities than ever. The expanded Children’s Area will show the life of a raindrop, feature earth-friendly skits, offer hands-on recycling activities, and provide crayons and coloring pages.

    New this year is a petting zoo provided by Down on the Farm, a local children’s farm. Kids are invited to pet farm animals and learn about where their food comes from.

    Many Living Green Expo exhibitors and workshops have information for the whole family. At noon on Saturday, the non-profit organization Preventing Harm Minnesota presents Smart Choices: Creating Non-Toxic Environments for Children. And on Saturday at 1 p.m., The Center for Sustainable Families shows how to make Food Fun for Kids.

    Students can log on to www.LivingGreen.org and take the Learning Challenge. Kids that make a family commitment to living green can enter to win a bicycle. And kids can talk with their teachers about getting credit for their work!

    Even More Green Getaways: Due to its immense popularity, the Minneapolis-based company Renewing the Countryside, which founded Green Routes, is unveiling a larger Green Routes guide at this year’s Expo. The original directory, published in 2004, listed two routes and 37 green businesses. This year, Green Routes is unveiling a new website featuring more than 200 green businesses in Northeast, Central and Southeast Minnesota. A statewide green tourism initiative, Green Routes emphasizes routes that feature natural and cultural resources throughout the state, locally grown food and products, and environmentally friendly lodgings. Green Routes also guides travelers through low-impact outdoor activities including hiking, biking, canoeing and birding.

    I Get Around: Outside the Grandstand Building, Living Green visitors can take test rides on scooters and commuter bicycles, check out the interiors of a Metro Transit hybrid bus, and sit behind the wheel of the latest hybrid gas-electric cars, including the Toyota Camry and Highlander.

    Back again is the Twin Cities’ popular HOURCAR, a car-sharing program that allows area drivers to use vehicles by the hour. Since launching in the metro area in June 2005, more than 200 people have registered to use one of 12 Toyota Priuses in the fleet. There are four membership plans to choose from, and representatives from HOURCAR will help people pick the plan that works best for them. And this year, when you sign up at the Living Green Expo, they’ll waive the $50 application fee.

    About the Living Green Expo: The Living Green Expo is a collaboration of government agencies, nonprofit groups and businesses, led by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeking to promote sustainability-oriented products and behaviors in Minnesota. To get to the expo, you can ride the bus (Metro Transit routes 3 and 84 stop in front of the fairgrounds, visit www.metrotransit.org for more information), ride your bike (free bike storage is provided), or carpool or drive (free parking is available). Please bring a non-perishable food item to benefit Second Harvest Heartland.

    Living Green Expo is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7, in the Grandstand Building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The event is free to the public. Visit www.LivingGreen.org for the workshop schedule.



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