When I stepped into Balboa Park this Sunday (April 21st) to attend the Earth Fair in observance of Earth Day 2013, I was expecting to witness a commercial interpretation of the event. There was a commercial element – Toyota would not miss the opportunity for the world. But there was a bigger philosophical element. The sustainability of our planet in the long run was the underlying theme and it seemed to resonate well with the visitors – the density of crowds at Balboa Park proved the point.

The crowd at the fair
The crowd at the fair

The stalls were lined up on either side of the path. There was a lot to cover – I decided to sniff for anything that interested me. My first stop was at a “Label GMOs” stall – the theme was philosophical – educating the public about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our food – as part of their display they had a few popular brands which have genetically modified ingredients, to drive home their point. And there was a non-GMO shopping guide available for pick up.

the Label GMOs stall
the Label GMOs stall

The “Coalition to Decommission San Onofre” stall had images from Fukushima and Chernobyl on display and warned against restarting the San Onofre nuclear plant. And they were encouraging the visitors to call Senator Boxer and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman to request against restarting the reactor. Their display also included a depiction of the range of impact of a nuclear disaster around San Onofre – evacuation of about 8.5 million people around a 50 mile radius.

San Onofre - evacuation impact
San Onofre – evacuation impact

SanOnofre

The center of the square was laced with commercial elements – from Toyota to Car2Go. And talking of commutes, I found the Move San Diego stall very interesting. Move San Diego apparently advocates and promotes the funding of healthy transportation options like biking and a well linked public transit system.

Car2Go MoveSD

It was impressive to see 2 stalls focused on the issue of world population. The “Population Connection” stall had a slogan – “protect earth, don’t give birth” whereas another stall sought to spread its message through quotes and cartoons.

Population Population_Cartoon

Towards the outer perimeter a few stalls were focused on more general topics like protecting marine life and simple ways to sustain the planet – conserve energy, buy organic, buy local, etc.

Messages

Towards the center of the plaza was a completely futuristic concept – a resource based economy – The Venus Project. It believes that in future machines will take over from man and be able to plan resource distribution more mathematically, leading to a balance between production, need and consumption – very fascinating and way into the future. However, their concept of vertical farms is a precursor – a first step towards planning for the future.

ResourceEconomy Venus_Project Vertical Farms

As I left the park I wondered if all the ideas I had witnessed were inter-related. A growing world population certainly was the basis of the Venus Project as well as the Move San Diego project. The theme was sustainability – staying as close to nature as possible, either by being GMO-free or nuclear-free or emissions-free. The awareness was there and the steps though very small, seemed to be moving in the right direction.

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