I’m here in San Francisco at the Green Festival — billed as the world’s largest green expo. The San Fran convention center is packed to the rafters with booths, booths, booths.
It is somewhat verboten to say so these days, but the predominant vibe is still distinctly hippie. (As I wrote that, a small troop of people wandered by playing drums and tooting on flutes.) Dreadlocks abound. Tofu products are ubiquitous. The word "spirit" is deployed with alarming frequency. There’s batik and tie-dye and didgeridoo honking and so forth. It’s like an enormous Grateful Dead parking lot.
(Just as in a Deadhead parking lot, despite the radical pretensions and socialist bumper stickers, the air fairly sparkles with capitalist striving. People are making money here, and they all — even the stinkiest of hippies — clearly want to make more. And good for them.)
However! In keeping with the "green is the new black" marketing spin, there are distinct signs of change. Interspersed among the patchouli-scented vendors are solar-panel installers, contractors, slickly packaged energy bars and fruit drinks, finance and loan officers, folks in starchy shirts and khakis.
And most heartening of all, the attendees at the festival are, by and large, less crunchy than the vendors. It strikes me as a fairly representative cross-section of the populace. There’s obviously huge, huge interest in this kind of thing. I’m not sure the green movement itself is quite keeping up with the mainstreaming of green, but the gap is narrowing. There’s buzz in the air. Something is obviously happening.