Practicing sustainability you preach

First Ecosphere festival brings together art, theater and consumer culture.

ecosphere festival 248 88 (photo credit: Maxim Reider)
ecosphere festival 248 88
(photo credit: Maxim Reider)
The first Ecosphere Festival kicked off on Sunday in a field at the entrance to the artists' village of Ein Hod near Haifa. The festival brought together art, theater and consumer culture to address its theme of sustainability. Ideal for families with young children, the festival is an educational experience to show how we can live more in sync with our environment. It featured an Eco-Life fair with eco-friendly art and products, children's theater stressing ecological themes and an international art installation which stressed man and nature as well as cultural themes. "The idea of the festival is to raise awareness to the issue of sustainability, to our responsibility to future generations and to stoke the public's curiosity through art, theater, and green products," Aya Zindel, one of the two organizers, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Mifal Hapayis was the main financial sponsor of the festival, according to Zindel. Many of the major environmental activist organizations were also invited to set up tents to "share their content and messages." The festival was not just about ecology and sustainability - it practiced such values as well. The food vendors provided degradable throwaway cups and plates and there were all different types of garbage cans dotting the grounds, for non-recyclables to cans to organic waste. Literally set up in a field and an olive grove, the festival seemed like a retrofitted country fair. People browsed the Eco-Life Fair where they could purchase a variety of green products. Dr. Bronner's and Ecover proffered ecologically friendly soaps and cleaning materials. Nature in Israel offered laminated books detailing the country's flora and fauna. The books were available in both English and Hebrew. One vendor was offering a container for collecting used batteries to bring for recycling, while another offered a one-stop shop for green building. Many other products, some slightly stretching the notion of "green" were also available. In addition to the mass produced products, there were also several artists selling their wares made of recycled materials. One artist made decorative objects out of old newspaper, while another had crafted a very cute "endangered light bulb spider." Made of a regular light bulb with wire legs, the placard next to them noted that such light bulb spiders were rapidly becoming extinct as the light bulbs were replaced by more efficient, longer lasting ones. "The idea of the Eco-Life fair was to show that we can live in a more environmentally friendly manner while still living well. In addition, it was to underscore the fact that there is a green scene in Israel, which produces homegrown products for which there's a demand," Zindel said. For the kids, there were educational performances every half hour with such themes as recycling and preserving biodiversity. The kids on Sunday responded well to the performances and seemed somewhat knowledgeable, answering questions during the events. For the parents, an international art exhibition cleverly used the olive trees to discuss themes such as man and nature. One installation featured an olive tree wrapped in fruit leather which the public could pick and eat, in an ironic reminder of where our food actually comes from. Yoko Ono decorated several trees with small notes, which the public could write their peace wishes on. A video installation played with the boundaries of nature and civilization. A screen set up on the rise just above the olive grove amid the trees featured changing images of wild animals inside what looked like a museum setting. Zebras and rhinoceroses roamed the inside of buildings up on the screen while people watched them from outside in the field. The festival costs NIS 20 per person, but those who arrive by public transportation get in for free. Dress for summer and bring a hat and sunscreen since it can get pretty hot there midday. Because of its location, pushing a carriage through the fair was rather inconvenient. Bring some bags to carry home all the ecological products which catch your eye as well. The festival runs through Tuesday.