11th Annual Topanga Earth Day Festival

Saturday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., through Sunday, April 18, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

I wish I lived in California. Then I could make it to the 11th annual Topanga Earth Day festival this weekend. It’s a 90 percent waste-free non-profit event (wow!) and will unify people from around the world in celebration and promotion of ecological awareness, cultural respect and music.  Set in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles’ original conscious-living community, the festival will give attendees the unique opportunity to learn about a variety of sustainable and holistic-living solutions through guest speakers and workshops, a healing village and ecological vendors who are “living by example” including Klean Kanteen founder Robert Seals.

The annual tradition of local habitat preservation continues on Saturday when volunteers take part in the Topanga creek and berm clean-up, led by leading biologist Rosi Dagit of Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. All volunteers receive a free day pass to the event. Like every year, festival-goers may catch a ride up to the Topanga Community House Fair Grounds on the Topanga Canyon Boulevard via biodiesel-powered shuttles by Bio Beetle.

It doesn’t end there. Guests can then experience a variety of demonstrations, community conversations and art, such as solar-powered ovens, thermal solar power showers and canvas vision prayer flag painting. The flags will be placed over an arundo structure made from an invasive plant gathered by the Topanga Creek Watershed. Under tipis and the arundo structure, experts will discuss social action, green technology, waste diversion, native Chumash healing plants with Cecilia Garcia, yoga, permaculture, plant an organic edible spiral herb garden with Caitlin Bergman, and more. Once again, Acro Energy will power the festival and the Mountain View Talkhouse stage by solar power.

Local Malibu yogis and kirtan singers Govindas and Radha will begin both days of the festival by leading participants in traditional bhakti yogic practice of India. Following yoga on Saturday, Edwin Lemus will lead the “Opening Ceremony” featuring world flags in the “May Peace Prevail on Earth Ceremony.” He will be joined by authentic Lakota Nation Chief Marvin Swallow and Japanese Shinto Priestess First Lady Hiroko Matsuda Swallow. Colorful Caribbean skirt dancers and West African drummers and dancers will perform pieces by choreographer Cari Ann Shim Sham. Performances during the opening ceremony will include peace and meditation band Gaia Mama, virtuoso percussionist and oud player Hani Naser and very special guests.

Remind me why I don’t live in California? This sounds like a phenomenal event! And there’s even more…

In the spirit of the festival’s ideals and purpose, an eclectic roster of international, national and local Los Angeles-area bands will perform on two stages throughout the weekend. Legendary Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winner (“Up Where We Belong”)Buffy Sainte-Marie, Grammy-winner and Cuban percussionist Luis Conte, Leon Mobley & Da Lion, Donna De Lory, Moonalice, Lynx & Janover and international frame drummer Rowan Storm are a sampling of the notable musicians scheduled to perform. World music, blues, afro-Cuban, reggae, folk, rock and more are among the expansive musical genres represented. More information on additional featured bands is included at the end of this press release.

Raw Inspiration will host the first-ever certified organic farmers market at the event. And now in its fourth year, the ecological fine art gallery will exhibit nature and statement pieces, and eco-inspired fine art made from recycled materials, including sculpture, collage, photography, painting and ceramics. Curated by exhibiting award-winning landscape and nature painter and photographer Alex Kube, the gallery showcases well-known local artists: LA guerilla artist/shutterbug Chuck U Farley, Southern California landscape painter Allen Capoferri, a photographic series of the spirit of the Sovereign Dine Nation by Demitra Tsioulos, recycled and natural fibers multiple-medium artist Cynthia Silverman, bird painter Mary Savage, abstract underwater life pieces by Patric Moran, Los Angeles mural painter and musician/songwriter, activist, Native Canadian imagery and sound “artician” Ramiro Fauve, and visionary Lakota Nation ceremonial paintings by Chief Marvin Swallow.

The children’s area will include festive activities, workshops, face painting and entertainment for children of all ages such as a prayer flag painting workshop sponsored by MUSE Elementary School. On Sunday, Kiddle Karoo will give puppetry and engaging children’s performances.
Let’s see, if I leave tomorrow from the Chicago ‘burgs in my VW station wagon…

More about this amazing festival. Since 2000, the festival’s core purpose has been to give back to local and global communities. Two-thirds of festival proceeds are donated to environmental awareness, preservation and survival programs for both local and international environmental non-profit organizations. This year’s local recipients are Common Peace (Santa Monica) and Topanga Community Food Garden & Fruit Trees at the Topanga Community House (Topanga); beneficiary international organizations are Trees For The Future and Woman’s Earth Alliance.

In collaboration with Universal Waste Systems and Zero Hero, the management has committed to ensuring that Topanga Earth Day remains a 90 percent waste-free event. All vendors use cups, utensils, garbage bags, napkins and plates that are biodegradable. In 2008, a crew of volunteers mulched all biodegradable materials, composting on site. During last year’s festival, which attracted over 6,000 people, 93 percent (1.32 tons recycling, 1 ton compost) of waste was diverted, with only 7 percent (10 bags of trash) going to the landfill. Recyclables are properly recycled with Universal Waste, LA County.

At the “City of Dreams” attendees can learn from activists representing organizations such as Trees for the Future, Common Peace, Greenpeace, PETA and Conscious Alliance. Conscious Alliance – Art That Feeds – will be on site and on hand to accept non-perishable canned goods and donations, which will go directly to food distribution efforts to help feed communities most in need. Holistic specialists, solar-power, organic and sustainable farmers market leader Jennifer McColm and progressive thinkers will also speak. To view the complete list of speakers, click here. Those who seek individual holistic healing services are encouraged to visit the healing village at the event. The healing village will feature practitioners in reiki, massage, sound healing, and reflexology. Donations are appreciated.

The 2010 Topanga Earth Day is produced by the Topanga Earth Day Organizing Committee and Rock and Stone, a project of International Humanities Center, a 501(c)(3) Charitable Trust. For all event details, visit: www.topangaearthday.org. Patrons are asked to make a $10 (suggested) donation per day of attendance. The festival takes place at the Topanga Community House Fair Grounds, 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd, Topanga, California, 90290.

Featured international and national performers include: Buffy Sainte-Marie; Luis Conte (performed with Ray Charles, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood); Leon Mobley & Da Lion (toured with Ben Harper); Donna De Lory (toured with Madonna); Hunny BunchMoonalice (Barry Sless, John Molo, Pete Sears, Jack Casady and Ann McNamee); Arlan Schierbaum and Kara Grainger; Victor Bisetti (drummed for Los Lobos) and Danny Frankel (drummed for Fiona Apple, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson); Lynx & Janover.

Local Los Angeles-area bands/performers include: Grateful dead tribute band Cubensis (West L.A.); Quactus (Silverlake; Hollywood); Delta Nove (Long Beach); emerging vocalist Griffith Frank (Topanga); peace, meditation and healing musicians Gaia Mama (Encino); (featuring Los Lobos drummer Victor Bisetti); Mystic Journey featuring Suzanne Teng (Topanga) to be accompanied by belly dancers from Melanie Kareem Middle Eastern Dance School (Topanga); Custom (West LA, Venice); I,Star (Topanga); The Chiefs (Topanga); Dana Wood and Dina (Topanga); Castano (Hollywood); Paul Kenny (Topanga); Shylah Ray Sunshine (Topanga); Ghost in the Machine (Woodland Hills, Topanga); Scott Vineberg (Topanga); Jazz Callner (Hollywood); Maya Bonn (Topanga)

Regional bands: LetUsJam (Chico, Calif.); Truebudoors (Chico, Calif.); Singing Bear (San Francisco, Calif.)

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