City Events and Dalai Lama's Visit Celebrated in True Berkeley Fashion

Anna Hiatt/Staff

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The streets surrounding the MLK Civic Center Park were packed with people Saturday, as hundreds celebrated the Berkeley Earth Day Festival, lined up to catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama and attended the city's farmer's market.

Karen Hester, the festival's event organizer, said she was thrilled to see the "harmonious convergence" of the Dalai Lama-who spoke at the Berkeley Community Theater following his speech at UC Berkeley-and the city's events.

"This is an educational opportunity for people to go out, creatively challenge the destruction of our planet and see what alternatives are possible," Hester said.

Alejandro Soto-Vigil, legislative assistant for Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington, said he was excited to hear what His Holiness had to say.

"I want to see someone who got a Nobel Peace Prize articulate what he stands for, and why we need more peace in this world," he said.

Those without tickets lined against guardrails to see the Dalai Lama's elaborate motorcade. Tibetan dancers greeted him outside the theater as he stepped out and bowed to the crowd.

Lasting until the evening, the festival held about 50 booths, ranging from an electric bike exhibition to one promoting the environmentally-friendly nature of marijuana.

The market, which was first in the nation to eliminate plastic bags and almost all plastic packaging in favor of compostable bags, held a tote-making booth encouraging patrons to bring their own bags when shopping.

Berkeley resident Jenna Timm said the events inspired her to recycle and compost.

"I'm going to wait a little until economic situation gets better to get things like solar panel, but (the festival) reminds us all to recycle more and make small changes," she said.


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