Local Students Lead Healdsburg To a Bright Future May 01 2012, 0 Comments

Because of our work in Fair Trade, it is not uncommon to be approached to support or sponsor a group or organization in issues involving social responsibility.  This year, we were approached by clubs from each of our local high schools to take part and sponsor public events that each were separately holding on the same weekend.

We are honored for the opportunity to support students in something they feel passionate about.  But, I must admit, giving up our Saturday and Sunday with a list of projects due was not an easy decision.  As promised, we proudly attended both events and what I experienced and learned at each event is what has inspired me to write about it.

The first event, on Saturday, was the Earth Day Festival in the Downtown Square.  This event is the product of the Progressive Club of Healdsburg High School.  The goal was to celebrate the Earth, educate and empower each other to take action in preserving the world we live in.  They invited many of the progressive elements of our community to display and present. This included Congressional candidate Norman Solomon, KPFA’s Miguel Molina, Amy Jolly of the Climate Protection Campaign, Rosa Azucena Becerra from the Committee for Immigrant Rights, Don McEnhill from Russian River Keepers, Ivis Sanchez from the North Bay Organizing Project, C.J. Holmes from Occupy Our Homes, County Supervisor Mike McGuire and myself to represent Fair Trade Healdsburg and One World Fair Trade.

They also provided a wonderful line-up of local entertainers, including Hoytus and One Heart, Happy Accident, Hannah & Sky, The Hopheads, Tricky Dick & the Hooligans, Attila Nagy, Misael Chavez, Stare at the Sun, and the HHS Jazz Hounds. As a perfect fit in celebration of our Earth they included the American Indian Movement’s Native Resistance Drum Group, Danza Azteca Xantotl.

In addition to speakers, entertainment and food they managed to have over 30 booths from various community, environmental and social justice organizations. They had a student art display, a Children’s Garden and face painting.  I even spotted Yo Yo Man in his festive green hat impressing guests with his well executed tricks and that was just day one!  

Sunday’s event was the Fair for Fairness, held on the West Plaza behind Bear Republic.  This was the creation of a group of students from the Rio Lindo Adventist Academy that call themselves REVO, short for Revolution.  The goal was to bring together organizations to raise awareness about the issues of Human Trafficking and modern-day slavery, to create a new future for survivors and to raise enough money to actually free slaves. This event featured several powerful informational booths including, the International Justice Mission, the Not for Sale Campaign, World Vision, Project AK-47, C.A.S.E. Act & Californians Against Slavery, A New Day for Children and representatives from Fair Trade Healdsburg.  

For an event sharing such heavy issues they managed to maintain a very festive and positive atmosphere through live music and featured speakers that offered practical ways to change the world for the better.  The two local bands included Trent Yaconelli and Featherweight.  Ben & Jerry's served Fair Trade Ice Cream, talented bakers made decadent treats with Fair Trade and local ingredients, faces were painted, Frisbees were flying, hacky sacks seemed to float and children were laughing.

There was a lot of valuable information to gather and learn at each event but the reason I felt compelled to write about it was not because of the information but because of the students and those that inspire them to make it all happen.  As I previously stated, I felt like I really could use the weekend to get projects done but we attended as promised and after attending I realized just how important it is to make time to support and honor these dynamic students for all their hard work.

Although each event was different, they shared many similarities.  Each event was created by students for the public.  The goal of both events was to make the world a better place for all.  Each event required months of preparation by many students to make it all happen.  There was fund raising needed to pay the $1800 fee to use each site in addition to the funds needed to support the causes they felt strongly about.  There were sponsors to obtain, car washes and bake sales to be held.  The Progressive Club held a "Movie and a Speaker" Series, weekly campus recycling and Battle of the Bands to raise funds.  

The students of the Revo Rio Lindo had to prepare their case to present to City Council for the permission to use the Plaza.  There were signs and flyers to be made, press releases to prepare and organizations to contact.  Letters, emails, phone calls and door to doors correspondence was required in order to gather the organizations participating.     

Logistical planning included layout, schedules, parking, set-up and take-down.  Banners were made, artwork was created.  Countless hours of work and preparation put in by local high school students and the staff that inspire them not including the hours spent by volunteers donating their time to make delicious bake goods.  I even learned of a mother who single-handedly made several hundred tamales to donate!  I observed the students as they worked in a well orchestrated event from set-up to take-down, all with smiles on their faces.  They did this not because they were told to, they did this because they wanted to, and from all appearances they looked to be happy doing it.

Each of these events were very worthwhile to attend on their own merit. But in learning just how much time and effort was required by everyone involved, I realized just how important it is to make the time to appreciate what our students create.  Next time you see an opportunity to attend such an event, rearrange your schedule to make it happen.  Whether just for a few minutes on your lunch break or spend the afternoon.  We know that these students are our tomorrow and from where I stood that day, our future looks bright.