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Posted on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 8:14 p.m.

Downtown Ann Arbor Mayor's Green Fair touts eco-friendly living

By Tina Reed


Volunteer Michael Flynn and 7-year-old Gavin LaHousse of Ann Arbor look on as 11-year-old Andrew Smigielski cycles to power lights and a stereo at the 10th annual Mayor's Green Fair in Ann Arbor.

Angela J. Cesere |

Ann Arbor residents Eric and Barb Ward say they've been dipping their toes into living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Getting rid of the TV was one step. Cutting back on car trips was another.

But they say they're getting ever closer to diving into a bigger investment like getting solar panels to help power their homes — or, as they were learning about at the Mayor's Green Fair in downtown Ann Arbor on Friday, purchase a hybrid vehicle to reduce their fossil fuel consumption.

"We're interested. But the budget is just not there yet," Eric Ward said after checking out one of the hybrid vehicles parked at the Main Street event.

"In general, we should move away from fossil fuels," Barb Ward said. The "BP (spill) is only one example of why."

The hybrid vehicles were just one exhibit at the Mayor's Green Fair in downtown Ann Arbor, which featured tables of information from non-profit organizations and companies.


Tyler Scott, 15, of Midland, demonstrates bike tricks off a ramp at a portion of the Mayor's Green Fair in downtown Ann Arbor Friday evening.

Tina Reed |

The fair stretched down South Main Street from Huron to WIlliam Street as folks at the fair mingled among sidewalk diners. Despite threats of thunderstorms in the forecast Friday evening, the fair had plenty of sun and downtown interest as hundreds strolled among the eco-friendly ideas.

The event featured non-profit conservation groups, local bicycle enthusiasts, natural product companies, a number of hybrid cars and local experts on sustainable eating, cleaning and building.

While the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico wasn't the focus on the event, it also wasn't far from the minds of many visitors and exhibitors Friday evening.

Steve Adams and Heather Phillips said it's certainly been the topic of concern for them.

"I ride the bus to work every day and I'm noticing more people on there," since the oil spill began, Adams said. "One person I know said she went back to riding the bus because she wanted to cut back on the amount of oil she's been using."

The two were checking out a special kind of tile at the event because, slowly but surely, they are renovating their home and want to keep the changes as sustainable as possible, they said.

But — echoing the sentiments of many other at the event — they also need to keep an eye on the bottom line. "As green as we can afford. It does get expensive," Adams said.

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.


Phillip Farber

Sun, Jun 13, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

Regarding the pedal powered lighting demo, the point was not to illustrate that in the future we'll power our lighting by pedaling (although bicycles will surely figure into that equation). The exhibit consisted of two sets of lights and a switch to send the pedal power to one or the other. One set was 100 watts worth of incandescent bulbs, the other set was LED bulbs that produced the same light output using a fraction of the pedaling power. The difference in effort to light the LEDs was dramatic. The crack @xmo about the kids' CO2 emissions was uncalled for. Shall we compare the CO2 emissions from driving 2 miles to work to those of riding a bike the same distance?


Sun, Jun 13, 2010 : 6:54 a.m.

@djm I selected those 2 businesses because their waste of energy serves no possible purpose. Display lighting at night serves an advertising purpose. Nighttime after hours exterior lighting serves a security purpose. Leaving on lights 24/7 that serve NO PURPOSE is antithetical to caring about our neighbors, our city, our planet. Just turn the lights off when not needed, or put them on a photocell or timer.


Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

Re: Sonnydog's comment about bike polo and green.... As already pointed out, this event included BikeFest, organized by the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition (WBWC). While Bicycle Polo isn't directly a "green" activity, it is a sport that gets many folks interested in bicycling, which most certainly IS a "green" activity. It's much more fun to see people on bicycles doing all sorts of things you maybe never saw or heard of, than to listen to bicycle advocates explain the benefits of increased emphasis of the bicycle in all our lives. Big Kudos to the WBWC for organizing BikeFest this year, and thanks to all the bicycle groups that participated. Perhaps, one day, Ann Arbor will reach the Gold level of LAB's Bike Friendly Community program. In part, that achievement will be due to the work of the WBWC to promote non-motorized transportation in our town and surrounding communities.


Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

@BobbyJohn...just about every business downtown has lighting on all the time. What I find unusual is that you target just two. I would venture to think every retail facility has display lights on after closing. Why not target them as well. By the way, does anyone know how much those "special" Green Fair parking meter bags cost? And who paid for them Mr. Mayor?


Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

I'm curious. How are bicycle tricks and bicycle polo "green"? I also like the picture of the kid pedaling to generate power. Moving forward, it will not be our kids that generate power for us by pedaling. The oh so green crowd will use lesser mortals for that. Picture the old Roman galleys with pedals instead of oars.


Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

Two businesses which profit from the Green Fair are Cafe Felix and Mongolian BBQ. However, both these businesses have exterior nondecorative lighting on 24/7. These lights serve no purpose whatsoever during daytime hours. For years I have been stopping by these restaurants and politely asking them to please be considerate and have these lights on only during hours when they serve a purpose. They are not sign lights, or advertising lights. I ask others to please request these businesses to be socially responsible. Ask for the managers and tell them that this is important to you as a customer. Let's work to eliminate the most wasteful, useless energy usage first. Way more cost effective than solar panels


Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

This event was a huge success, but your photos are from Bike Fest which is held in conjuction to the Green Fair and it is organized by Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition ( Thanks for the coverage and the photos are great. It has grown every year and we had 60 bikes parked via valet parking with Thanks to everyone who came out!

David Cahill

Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 6:53 a.m.

I loved this event! Congrats to the mayor for promoting it! I think there were more exhibits than last year, and Main Street from Huron to William was crowded.

Alan Benard

Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 11:14 p.m.

Being able to point to this annual event demonstrates our town's commitment to what they call in the "lifestyles of health and sustainability." Our hope for the future is pinned upon the industries which will both drive and provide the infrastructure for this social movement. The small sums invested in this event are well spent when companies are trying to decide where to set up shop and "green" issues are high among their priorities.


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 9:57 p.m.

"... As green as we can afford. It does get expensive..." Being "green" is unfortunately the province of those with disposable income. It ought to be less expensive to use cleaner technologies which reduce our natural resource consumption, but too often that isn't the case due to investment costs. Marketplace supply & demand is far too ineffective at facilitating social response to ecological problems the cost issue prevents people from acting on their wish to make positive changes in daily life. Someday, environmental responsibility will at last become a genuine, full national priority. This will entail big subsidies spent all across the country, so that people can afford the technological and lifestyle changes involved. Some of that trillion we've spent on our wars would have gone quite a long way if instead it had been spent at home on a series of green initiatives.

David Cahill

Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 8:08 p.m.

This was a very well attended and informative event. Congrats to the mayor for promoting it.