How is it here already?!? Saturday is going to be an exciting day manifesting another dream into reality and I can’t believe we have come so far. As I sat down to write this blog post, I realized this one on sustainability needed to come directly from me, the initial inspired person behind it all, Creative Director, Johanna Hagarty. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed all the other blog posts and learn a little something more from this one too!
Sustainability much like creativity can be viewed through so many lenses. It can be the way food is grown, distributed, and consumed, to where you buy everyday products from and more. I have known for a long time that one of my personal goals was to find ways to inspire individuals to live respecting themselves, each other and the world around, but have always struggled on exactly how to do so. It was definitely one of those 4 am “eureka” moments a month or two into initial planning for Xpand Fest (back in early 2016!) that the festivals true objective came to me. I had been doing a lot of research on 17 “Global Goals” identified by the United Nations (read more on those here). While the UN has their own objectives and ways they see achieving these goals across the globe, each platform the goals represented (reducing racial/gender inequalities, sustainable cities, health, and wellness, etc) seemed worth of a local conversation and a wonderful way to be inclusive of all positive growth in our community. These goals have loosely become the undertone for Xpand Fest’s brand promise and are always at the core of decision making for this event. Throughout planning and growing Xpand Fest we have been able to find ways to slowly create practices and systems that support sustainability across platforms and with a variety of needs in mind.
One of the biggest things that we have done this year is grown our team. Planning the first year with 3 core staff was definitely not going to be sustainable in the long run so we had to really focused on finding individuals who have unique professional skill sets to fill in the gaps. I firmly believe that creating a strong team, or community begins with understanding yourself and knowing what your best and most challenging assets are. With that knowledge, you can make sure all aspects of the job are getting done and can let people know when you are struggling with part of your responsibilities. In that vein, I have created a sustainability pledge that myself and all staff are invited to fill out that expresses the importance of seeing yourself as a whole person. This is also a chance to offer a commitment from my company to supporting all people in their personal and professional journeys. Feel free to read and/or fill out the pledge here and know that you are apart of this whether you attend Xpand Fest or another event we produce or simply just read our blog posts (we hope at least SOME of you do!) from time to time.
I think that’s enough of the super philosophical and emotional reasons behind my belief in sustainable practices, let’s get down to some of how Xpand Fest is actually sustainable! First and foremost we focus on attempting to minimize printing as much as possible since this is a one day event, so while you will find printed schedule and banners (most of which we can use for years to come!), we also have our online map and schedule that you can easily download on your phone as well as large printed schedules at most of the major locations.
We also are very much looking forward to moving towards a NO “single use” use water bottle event, but until we have the resources to do so we are slowly transitioning by having refillable water stations and $2 sport water bottles for sale that you can reuse all day. Those little spot water bottles are also good for that hike you’re going on next weekend, or your kids soccer game and have Xpand Fest’s logo on it!
We also make sure that food vendors use as many compostable and recyclable goods as possible and work with local South Slope company, Danny’s Dumpsters on having trash, recycling and compost at Xpand Fest. In that vein of making sure the streets aren’t impacted by the waste at our event, we also are doing a clean up in the South Slope prior to the event and hope to leave the festival area a little cleaner and more creative than before. We also use compostable cups, are reusing wristbands from last year (don’t judge us that they say 2017, we told the print guy to leave the year off!) and are always trying to find more unique ways to encourage and implement sustainable practices into our events.
Writing this blog was quite difficult (a lot in part because every minute I am getting phone calls, emails, and texts on top of each other- so I’m easily distracted), but also because I wanted to hopefully really explain some of what we believe and why we make the decisions that we do. Trust me, there is a lot more that I could say about this and how strongly I feel about being sustainable across platforms (we even had a contest where we gave away 2 festival booths to art vendors because we know how hard it can be to have to pay a booth fee as an up and coming artists), but please know we see this as a work in progress and are truly open to hearing thoughts and suggestions from anyone on how we can do better for all people and communities.
Thank you all for your time and I truly look forward to seeing you out on Saturday.
— Johanna Hagarty, Qualified Mental Health Professional
Creative Director: Xpand Fest