Sunday, May 18, 2008

Green in the City

This shot was taken from the 2008 Green Festival at the Chicago Navy Pier! I know my posts have been infrequent lately, mainly because I haven't had much to post about except for the AP exam (which is over now). But one exciting thing I've been lucky enough to do was attend my first ever Green Festival.

The trip started in South Milwaukee, where a friend from school and I drove down to Kenosha (about a 45 minute ride). We'll call my friend "Sahara" to protect the innocent. We then boarded the Metra Rail, which is a very good deal at five dollars roundtrip with a weekend pass. So we got on.

"Is this the train to Chicago?" I asked a man sitting across from us.
"I hope so," was his reply.

After a slight leap of faith, we were on our way the Windy City and arrived after about two hours. On the way there, Sahara and I were completely fascinated to be on a train and spent most of the trip looking out the window, watching swampy forests give way to suburbs, which gave way to ghettos, which gave way to skyscrapers.

Now at the train station, we had one more method of transportation to experiment with--the bus. Since the bus stop was so crowded with Green Festival guests, we missed the first one but were able to board the next bus ten minutes later. The bus seemed quite like a downtown tour; it drove past the many skyscrapers, the Chicago River, and Millenium Park.

Finally, after almost four hours of transportation, we arrived at the Navy Pier. Being my first time at the Navy Pier, Sahara and I thought it would be a good idea to go on the ferris wheel. This is the view of Downtown from the top. Once we arrived at the actual festival, we were at first taken aback by the vastness of it. The main attraction was the expo, which was a massive series of stands with everything from fair trade chocolate to Nepalese paper to the Sierra Club. For lunch, I tried vegan empanadas, which were delicious. I'm not a vegan, but when in Rome...Still, you would never guess the empanadas contained no meat. For the rest of the afternoon, we explored the expo and tried a countless amount of free samples. The flax chips were one of the more unusual varieties. Everyone from the festival was so friendly! It was amazing to be around so many like-minded people for once. And everything around me was fascinating. When Sahara and I saw the stand with Tibetan prayer flags, we leaped (yes, leaped) in excitement. The prayer flags were my favorite souvenier, along with a shirt I bought that says "Coexist" inside a circle of symbols from different religions. This trip was a much needed break from the recent stress of studying, dramatic high school students, and work. I think the main thing it meant for me was independence, the ability to travel to a strange city without a parent or legal guardian. Being 16, it's hard to have access to traveling. Maybe since I took this trip without getting lost or missing a bus or train, I'll be able to go on similar trips in the future. I'm definitely hoping to attend next year's Green Festival to further explore the trends of being an eco-geek.


BlackenedBoy said...

I think it's so cool that you did this! When I was sixteen, I couldn't have even gotten to the nearest city by myself, let alone navigated my way to one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country a state away.

Was the train ride your favorite part of the actual traveling? I hope you brought food.

It is a good feeling when you first do something like that; I remember the thrill I got at eighteen riding on the Marble City Metro and realizing that I could get around without anyone else's help.

I'm glad you had so much fun. You should try getting involved in environmental things back in Wisconsin.

Just out of curiosity, do you guys get winter there anymore?

Adam said...

It's funny you asked if the train ride was the best part of the traveling. I would say so; on the way there, we were so excited to be on a train and pointed out every little thing along the way, but on the way back we were so exhausted that we just wanted to get off. The bus was also interesting. It passed through a very neat area of downtown and was crowded with other Green Festival people.

I'm starting to look into environmental volunteer work here in Wisconsin. It's just a process of narrowing things down. We do get a winter here, which can be pretty nasty but not as bad as New England or Colorado. The past ten years or so have been really mild, but this year we usually had close to two feet on the ground at any point in time. It made for some amazing snow forts.

Anonymous said...

I think it was a mark of just how excited we were on the train ride there, that every time we exclaimed "Look! Water!", we could hear that three-year-old below us saying the exact same things.

I think we should still look into starting an environmental group maybe over the summer, or into the beginning of next year. Even if we just started off with a small project, and slowly let them get bigger, we could do pretty well with that kind of thing.

You should put up a picture of your peace flags for your next entry. By the said "the 2007 Green Festival"....last time I checked, it was 2008