Growing the Green Marketplace with Green Festival, Inc.’s Dr. Corinna Basler
April 21, 2014
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome to another edition of Green Is Good, and we’re so excited to have with us today Dr. Corinna Basler. She is the president of The Green Festivals and you can look at them at GreenFestivals.org. Welcome to Green Is Good, Corinna Basler! DR. CORINNA BASLER: Hi John! JOHN SHEGERIAN: It’s so great to have you on today you’re doing so many amazing things at the green festivals. But before we get into talking about what you’re doing and what The Green Festivals is about, can you share a little bit of your fascinating journey leading up to your taking over this organization and running it? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Sure. John, first of all thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk with you today, this has been an exciting journey actually. I have been a vegetarian for 20 years, and a vegan for 10 years. And when I was young, when I was 14 years old, I always felt very passionate about animals, especially about farming animals. And I just felt that it’s not right to eat them. So I just made the decision to not have them on the plate anymore, which felt quite unusual, because where I’m from, East Germany, meat was always a big deal basically. So I just decided that this is the right thing for me and I felt very good about it. And that’s where my passion started. So then I studied and I had the chance at a very young age to go to New York to run the New York marathon and this is when I basically fell in love with the big apple. And I always wanted to come back and listen and study and work here in the United States. And in the meantime I had to go back I had to study in Germany and finish my education there. And I also felt very passionate about experiencing other cultures. So, I had a fun drive to go to Asia I stayed at some Buddhist monasteries and I feel this is all kind of connected, that we are all connected; we all have a responsibility for ourselves, but also for other creatures, for the planet, for all the resources. And we cannot just live from one day to the other; we should also be very responsible for the next generation. And, I also felt very strongly about that. I wanted to make a difference; I wanted to make a difference in the bigger picture. Because, deciding not to eat meat is basically an individual decision, but trying to empower people, and trying to make a contribution to a better world. This was always my dream, and now, 20 years later, I have the opportunity now to join Green Festival, we’re America’s largest green living and sustainability event. And I have a great vision to grow, to make things green, to make sure that everyone here in America knows about the Green Festival, and is aware of what the Green Festival can offer and what a great marketplace it is. Here, you can find all the products and brands you need for a green lifestyle. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Corinna, you know, we love having unbelievably successful people like you on this show because not only do you talk the talk but you walk the walk. Talk a little bit about the Green Festival. You’re the president of the Green Festival, for our listeners out there that want to follow along while we talk here and visit this today, you can go to greenfestivals.org — greenfestivals.org – I’m on your site right now, what’s the mission and the vision of the Green Festival and what are you really trying to accomplish? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes. As I mentioned, we are America’s largest and longest running sustainability event. We are hosting events, Green Festivals in New York City, upcoming now, April 26th and 27th. And in Washington DC, end of May, and also in the fall, in Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. And at each event you’ll find a very dynamic marketplace with the widest selection of green products and services and we want to make sure that people come and enjoy each other. And that they come and interact, that they enjoy our great vegan vegetarian organic foods. We have an exciting program where you can learn about sustainability. We have a great collection of speakers. So just come and have a great vegan vegetarian day. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And how many years have you been running this now Corinna? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Actually, I just started. I just started with that opportunity a couple months ago. For me personally, it’s quite new. However, the vision and the mission and the values that are behind the Green Festival, that’s basically what I’m keeping in my heart for two decades. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So you have festivals all around the country, and your goal is to bring people in and socialize them to all the great things that are going on in terms of green lifestyle, vegan eating, vegetarian eating, and how to be more sustainable throughout their lives, everything that they do. DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes, absolutely, we would like to inspire and empower consumers, but also communities and green businesses, who would like to play, list, and work green. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And what kind of people, what kind of companies come and do exhibitions at your shows? DR. CORINNA BASLER: John, actually we do have all kinds of companies. Basically the Green Festival, we are covering all categories. From good food, to business and technology, for example, we have solar energy companies. Clean transportation. We have sports and motor companies, who are sponsoring our events, once again, and they are showing up with their green transportation line, and we are very happy about that. We have Older, the car sharing company that is partnering with us this year, we have ZipCar, and we also have a very strong presence of yoga and lifestyle brands, body care, nutrition, health, body works, and also travel, adventure, we basically cover it all because we want to make sure that we present a marketplace where you can find everything for your green life. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s so interesting and I’m on your site right now and again for our listeners it’s www.greenfestivals.org. You also have amazing group of—I’m just looking at the New York one coming up at the end of April—you have an amazing group of speakers. Talk a little about the thought leaders and the speakers that you have coming to your festivals. DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes, we have, for example, we have Amy Goodman, from Democracy Now, I mean she’s just amazing. I have heard her speaking last year at the Green Festival and people have tears in their eyes. They were so touched and moved, she’s really bringing very important issues on the table and we’re all having a discussion. And this is very important for the Green Festival that we’re not just offering what’s important to a sustainable lifestyle but we also address social justice issues and awareness and how to be more conscious about your environment and about your life. This year in New York we also have Dan Harris, he’s one of the top best seller authors in New York and all over the United States. And he’s from ABC Nightline and we are very very happy to have him at the Green Festival. And we also have Rona Berg, the editor in chief of Organic Spa Magazine, I met her last week at our New York lounge party, and just was amazing. She’s such a terrific person and she’s also living exactly what the Green Festival stands for. And we have many many other speakers joining the Green Festival. And we actually have a nice selection of different stages so it’s not just one stage. We offer a family and fun stage, we have a beer and wine garden also, want to make sure that people have fun, enjoy each other, we have a yoga pavilion, we have, altogether we have 6 stages, and of course we have all the wonderful presenters from the exhibitors presenting their green brands. And you can come, you can taste, you can shop, you can try, and just have a good time. And actually we do present a special poet for the green is good radio listeners. So if you go to our website, greenfestivals.org/ticket and if you enter the code greengood14, again that’s greengood14, and you get 50% off if you come to our show if you come to our show for New York or DC. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. That is so kind of you for you to offer that to our listeners. And for our listeners that who tuned in we’re so honored to have with us today Dr. Corinna Basler. She is the president of the Green Festivals and again it is www.greenfestivals.org. For our listeners out there, go on this amazing website which I’m on right now, I mean, you have festivals, New York, Washington, LA, Chicago, and it sounds like, how you’re describing it, there’s something for everyone. You don’t have to be into yoga, but everyone’s into food, and everyone wants to eat better. And if you’re not into being a vegan, then there’s many thought leaders that you can listen and enrich your experience in terms of opening your mind to different things that are going on into this world in living more sustainability. So there is something for everyone, at your Green Festivals is this the way you look at it? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes, absolutely. Because, we have so many events in the country, very focused and very specialized, and it’s all our mission basically to combine all of those different options and categories. Because we want to make sure that we touch everyone’s life. We believe that everyone has a responsibility now to work, play, and to live green. This is why we would like to combine all of the auxiliaries, combine the brand, the services, the spirit, the program, and we want to be positive. We want to make sure that people see that it can be fun and it’s a great way to live a sustainable life and just feel good about it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I see on your website that you have something called the Green Festival Brand Award, can you explain what is that about, and how do brands get nominated, and what kind of brands have historically been winners of this wonderful award? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes. Thank you very much for pointing that out. Actually, this year, this is the first time ever, that the Green Festival is introducing the first annual Green Festival Brand Award, which celebrates companies or brands who are transforming the way we live with innovative solutions. So all paying Green Festival exhibitors can be nominated, we have the Green Festival website, and anyone, really anyone, can go on the website and vote their favorite green brand which is exhibiting at the Green Festival. So just go online at GreenFestivals.org/Awards and just select your favorite brand. And while doing that every voter is qualified to win our super green shopper price. Because we believe it’s not just about brands, we believe those brands they live because of our great consumers. So you have a chance to win this wonderful price, which is a gift basket filled with all the good stuff from our festival. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What is then the Green Festival Community Award? Because I see under the awards category you have all these wonderful categories, I want to learn about all of them. The Green Festival Community Award what is that about? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes. We actually have two awards. The first is the Green Festival Brand Award. The second one is the Green Festival Community Award, because, we would like to give back to communities. We don’t want to just celebrate the brands and the people who vote for it. We would like to engage communities, and we’re giving away a 5,000 dollar grand to a deserving regional non-profit community, which comes up with a great project which is sustainability focused in the area. So, if you are a non-profit if you have a great project, please go online, apply, and you have a chance to receive a 5,000 grant. We will select the 5 best projects, and they come to our festival. They can exhibit and showcase their project, then the attendees, and our judges, they will vote for the best project. And we are really very excited about it. Because we want to engage everyone, including the local communities and give back to them. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And last, but not least, what’s the super Green shopper prize? And how people, how do our listeners and other people coming to your wonderful festivals participate with the Super Green Shopper Prize? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes. The Super Green Prize is customized and tailored for all the people, for the fans who go online and vote for the Green Festival Brand Award. This is a nice incentive, you go to the website, you select your favorite brand, and then you have the chance to win this wonderful, great gift basket. Which is an awesome selection, with all the goods from all exhibitors. You will love it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So let’s just talk for a little bit we have about 4 or 5 minutes left, how does the Great Festival, and what’s your vision on, how does the Green Festival help companies go greener? DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes. Of course there are so many companies out there who would like to be sustainable, they would like to be green, they are not 100 percent there yet. We do not want to punish them and turn them down, on the contrary. We would like to encourage them to continue to extend their green portfolio and their green offering. So, when, if a company is interested in partnering with the Green Festival, they can only show up with their established green offering. It has to be vegan/vegetarian, and it has to be a very strong green offering. So for instance, the Green Festival, we are trying to become a 0 waste event, we are nearly there, and again we would like to encourage those companies to keep moving forward, and going along the way to become more green. Because we have a large crowd, for San Francisco we have nearly 30,000 attendees. For New York, we expect nearly 20,000 attendees and this is a great marketplace for companies to also see with their green offering, they are basically sitting in the right place in the market. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know, talk a little bit about that Corinna, we’ve got about 3 minutes left. I have no problem with you giving shameless plugs to some of the great sponsors of the Great Festivals, because I want to encourage other companies to sponsor your great festivals. Who is already sponsoring, and, I want their brands to be associated with your great brand. Give a couple of plugs for those great brands who are already sponsoring. DR. CORINNA BASLER: Yes. Thank you very much. For example, this year we have Rudy’s Bakery, Rudy’s Bakery is a purely vegan bakery, and their contribution was a product which is food, and they’re one of our big sponsor. However, our biggest supporter is Ford Motor Company, Ford has partnered with the Green Festival for a long time. Ford is a great example because thinking about Ford the first time, you wouldn’t necessarily think about a green offering, however, together with the Green Festival, Ford was able to extend their green portfolio. And you have the chance to come to the festival, and come have a test drive with Ford’s all electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids and eco-boost technology cars. So this is very exciting. And another good company is Cliff Bar. Cliff Bar is one of our biggest sponsors, and they are extending, they’re growing, they’re heavily owned and they’re living the same values that the Green Festival stands for. So we’re very happy about Cliff Bar. And Cliff Bar is offering the Cliff Bar bag delays so you can come with your bike, ride your bike to the festival, and come in for free at the Green Festival. It’s all very exciting. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What you just did is so perfect Corinna because you just laid out a smaller brand that’s growing. I know Rudy’s Bakery and their products are delicious so I’m so glad to hear that they’re sponsoring and they deserve this plug. And they’re a small and growing business. Then a medium size business that of course is already an iconic brand in the United States for people who are health conscious is Cliff Bars. And then of course, one of the greatest iconic brands around the world, Ford motor company, who by the way has already been on this show numerous times, and we know all the great things they’re doing. And I’m so excited to hear they’re sponsoring you as well. So, what a great example, cross section of sponsors. Smaller, medium, and really, larger. And it’s so great to hear what you’re doing. And for our listeners one more time, get involved, and go to Corinna’s great festivals. The Green Festivals, you can go to www.greenfestivals.org, they’re in New York City in April, Washington the end of May and June, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. Dr. Corinna Basler, thank you for your passion and commitment to creating a more sustainable planet. You are truly living proof that green is good.