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Topanga Celebrates Its 'Green-Nest' Days

By Annemarie Donkin

The 7Walkers with drummer Bill Kreutzmann (The Grateful Dead), jazz trio Oui 3, a 30-foot string harp and eco-fashion show highlight the 12th Annual Topanga Earth Days festivities.

Topanga's annual Earth Day is a weekend on a mountaintop of music, drumming, dance, yoga and healing to renew the mind, body and spirit to realign and reconnect with the planet.


Japanese Shinto priestess First Lady Hiroko Matsuda Swallow, a Water Woman, recited a traditional Shinto prayer during opening ceremony of 2010 Topanga Earth Day.

The festivities begin on Friday, April 22 with an Eco Art Gallery reception from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that includes an eco-fashion show, music by British jazz trio OUI 3 and a Frey vineyards wine tasting at the Topanga Community Club House (TCC) at 1440 N Topanga Cyn Blvd.

The celebration continues on Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24 from 10 a.m. to sunset at the Topanga Community House and Fair Grounds.

Admission is $12 per day and there will be a free bio-diesel van that will shuttle people from various pick-up points in the Canyon all weekend.

An authentic gathering of music, ecological artists, non-profit organizations, and complimentary workshops, Topanga's Earth Day is a gathering for all ages, cultures and families.

Traditional activities include healing workshops, solar power demonstrations, raw food preparation, tea ceremonies, mind-body healing sessions and community drumming circles.

Throughout the weekend, there will be an international music lineup featuring 7 Walkers with drummer Bill Kreutzmann; Prezident Brown roots reggae, Hani Naser from Jordan and Leon Mobley.

Also, drummer Jamie Papish will accompany the colorful belly dancers from Melanie Kareem's Middle Eastern Dance School in Topanga.

Inside the Community House, Muriel Katz will show eco-films including "Bold Native," "Fuel," "The Story of Stuff" and "3 Magic Words" (produced by Topangan Michael Perlin).

Kids can play at the Children's Playground where they choose among activities such as Earth Flag painting, a pottery wheel, a veggie energy mobile and much more.

For the complete lineup of events visit Sixty percent of the proceeds this year will go to the TCC, Sea Shepherd and Doctors Without Borders.

L.A. Green-Nest

This year's theme is "Living By Example, LA's � Green-Nest.

"We are the Green Nest, the largest community of holistic practitioners and innovators of sustainable practices," explained Earth Day producer Stephanie Lallouz, who inherited the job from Topanga Earth Day founder Woody Hastings three years ago. "Topanga has always done this, we are the �Green-Nest' as opposed to being the �Greenest.' Everyone assumes that we are setting those examples and each one of us can make a real difference."

Lallouz said Malibu Solar will power the musical main stage and Wasteless Living from Pasadena will be recycling and composting all of the trash.

"We have been letting the festival grow slowly, holistically, because you can make anything big, but we don't care about big, we want things to be a living example of what we can do to learn sustainable living," Lallouz said.

Since inheriting Earth Day, Lallouz has become a living example of her philosophy by living "off the grid," without a refrigerator or microwave and powers her Topanga home with solar power and a wood burning stove.

"We have become more and more a world of haves and have nots with those who have energy and those who lack access to energy, but we can learn to balance it out. Everything is starting up all over the world; people are starting to care."

Saturday Opening Ceremonies

Saturday begins at 10 a.m. with yoga for all levels with Radha and Govindas of Bhakti Yoga on the ball field of the TCC.

About noon the opening ceremony begins with the Jishin Japanese Taiko Drummers and the Earth World Flag Ceremony by Lakota Chief Marvin Swallow and Shinto Priestess Hiroko Matsuda with a sacred invocation honoring the earth and welcoming spring.

The ceremony closes with Donna Delory and String Theory featuring a 30-foot-long string played like a giant harp.

Saturday afternoon features music by Truth and Salvage Co.; Leon Mobley & Da Lion; Lili Haydn; Maetar; Hunny Bunch; I Star; The Chiefs; Hani Naser and closes with Prezident Brown and their light and easy roots reggae from Jamaica.

Sunday and Closing Ceremonies

On Sunday morning, Radha and Govindas of Bhakti Yoga will lead free-form dance and the festival continues with workshops and demonstrations.

The weekend closes with 7Walkers featuring Bill Kreutzmann (original drummer from The Grateful Dead) with Papa Mali, bass legend George Porter Jr., and Matt Hubbard as part of their current tour. They play covers from classic Grateful Dead tunes as well as original cuts.

"Every day should be earth day. I am excited to participate," Kreutzmann said from his home in the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii. "I love it here, we use solar panels everywhere."

Kreutzmann said he moved to Kauai in 1995 after Jerry Garcia's death to recoup his energy.

In 2008, he helped found the 7Walkers and loves playing with such great jazz musicians.

"It's a real fun band, with a much funkier feel," he said. "We entertain each other, the whole band will pick up a riff and anyone who is a �deadhead' should love this band."

Kreutzmann said he was just 18 when he joined the newly formed Grateful Dead in 1965.

"You could say I was the original �dead head,' after I saw Jerry play at the Tangent," Kreutzmann said. "I thought, �I'm going to follow this guy until the end of time, he is so cool.'"

Lallouz said having Kreutzmann play is a dream come true for her, as the Grateful Dead played a huge role in her life following a life-threatening car accident in Paris when she was 19-years-old.

"I learned lessons of survival from their music and I am very grateful," she said. "They took all of us to other realms of inspiration, unexplainable and unforgettable, so you know, we just love them, huge part of my upbringing, they gave me a new way of thinking."

Organizations participating in Earth Day are Green Peace; SEVA; Trees for the Future; California Wildlife Center; The World Wild Life Foundation; Woman's Earth Alliance; Tree People; May Peace Prevail On Earth; The Surf Rider Foundation; World Watch; Heal the Bay; PETA; AC Investigations: Welfare of Farm Animals; Necessity Housing; Topanga Creek Watershed; Global Green; Topanga Peace Alliance; Zero Hero; We Earth; Muttshack: New Orleans Animal Rescue; The Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains; Topanga Association for a Scenic Community; Common Peace; Slate Foundation; Nutiva; Animal Liberation Front; Topanga Town Council; Topanga Chamber of Commerce; Save the Topanga State Park; Topanga Community Club; Raw Inspiration; Transition LA; Say Permaculture and Heart and Soil.

Get Down and Dirty for a Free Pass to Earth Day Festival

What better time than Earth Day to get down and dirty in the best sense of the word, especially since all participants receive a free day pass to the Earth Day Festival at the Topanga Community Center?

Rosi Dagit of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains will lead the traditional Topanga Creek Clean Up and Berm Restoration on Saturday, April 23 from 9 a.m. to noon at Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway.

The Earth Day Creek Clean-up project will help remove asphalt chunks, stabilize the bank and weed out invasive plants at the Rodeo Grounds Berm in Malibu.

Volunteers from all parts of California (Malibu, Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, San Francisco) join in every year.

Participants should park along the shoulder north of Malibu Feed Bin and meet at the yellow gate on Topanga Cyn Blvd, just north of Malibu Feed Bin and PCH.

RSVP to  or just show up.

Topanga Elementary's Booth

Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS ) will have a booth at the Topanga Earth Day Festival where revelers can meet the teachers and learn about all of the great earth-friendly programs that TECS has to offer. There will be a Recycled Art project for kids and parents can have their questions about the school answered by current teachers and parents.

Principal Nicole Sheard also invites the community to the school's Open House, Tuesday, May 3, from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, she says.

Topanga Earth Day is produced by the Topanga Earth Day Organizing Committee--and Rock & Stone; a project of International Humanities Center a Charitable Trust 501C-3--For additional information, visit:
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