Author Kevin Nelson (far right) with fellow 350 volunteers at this years Juneteenth Celebration.

Author Kevin Nelson (far right) with fellow 350 volunteers, Gina Hardin and Ryan Denham, at this year’s Juneteenth Festival.

June 20, 2015 was my first Juneteenth festival. I have never seen such a friendly and diverse crowd in Denver. There were many booths set up and maintained by ordinary people selling their art and merchandise. Simply by browsing the stands one could gain a sense of the many things the citizens of Colorado are up to these days. Along with the artists, artisans, and merchants, there were also many non-profit organizations, including a healthy representation of the environmental and climate change movements.

This year our groups were concentrated in the green zone. As people walked by, they could see how many environmental organizations are active in Colorado at large and Denver in particular. At the 350 Denver table, we attracted festival-goers with the opportunity to make seed balls. These globes of wildflower seeds packed in clay and compost apply an ancient planting technique to help with habitat recovery for pollinators. From getting our hands dirty for the sake of clover and bees, it was an easy segue into a conversation about climate change and the actions of our local Denver organization. For visuals and take away materials, we were well supplied with our freshly designed brochures. Not to mention, our booth looked great with its new banner.

I am pretty new to activism, but I quickly became comfortable speaking with the folks who stopped by. I was glad to see that lots of people took me very seriously and were happy for the chance to learn more. Festivals like this are a great way to get to know the community better, and they also bring us together on an issue that is so important to all of us.

By Kevin Nelson