Photos: Josh Withers; Jack Gorlin; Outside Lands 2018
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It’s that time of year again! An outstanding local and global audience is soon to descend on a transformed Golden Gate Park to partake in another epic Outside Lands weekend; a veritable tasting menu with food, wine, beer, cocktails and cannabis from some of Northern California’s best and brightest purveyors. Not to mention the 75 acts taking the stage to perform, including headliners Blink 182, Twenty One Pilots, Childish Gambino, Paul Simon and more. This year come for the music, stay for the green…

Over the next 10 years, Outside Lands is determined to deliver a zero-waste, carbon-neutral and environmentally low-impact experience. Located inside the Outside Lands grounds, Eco Lands embodies this spirit of consciousness, community and sustainability. It’s a place where you can discover great nonprofit organizations, learn more about the importance of locally-sourced flowers in Flower Lands and support family farms with healthy snacks at the Farmers Market. Stop by August 9-11 to learn how you can make a difference.

Photo: Andrew Jorgensen; Outside Lands

You’d have a hard time finding someone who knows Eco Lands better than Morgan Fitzgibbons. As the Director of Sustainability and Community Engagement, he’s played an important role in making Outside Lands an industry leader in environmental awareness and sustainability. Here, we learn more about Eco Lands, Flower Lands and what makes Outside Lands special.

For those who haven’t experienced it before, what is Eco Lands?

Morgan Fitzgibbons: Eco Lands is the part of the festival that has the most direct focus on sustainability and community. The foundation of Eco Lands is our nearly 20 amazing nonprofit partners that each produce an experience at a booth around the Panhandle stage. On top of that foundation, we’re extending our mission through other programming like Sober Lands, Flower Lands, a group bike ride to and from the festival each day, and introducing a community-focused scavenger hunt last year, Ranger Dave’s Junior Ranger Training Program.

Photo: Josh Withers; Outside Lands

How do you choose the organizations that set up shop in Hellman Hollow?

MF: We have a strong focus on organizations that are unique to San Francisco and the rich tradition of environmental advocacy and social change here in the Bay Area. For an organization to be invited into Eco Lands, they have to a) do amazing work in the world, and b) produce a fun, dynamic experience at Outside Lands. We’re not interested in organizations that just want to sit behind a table and have you sign up to their email list.

Flower Lands is a relatively new experience in Eco Lands. Why is it important to buy local flowers?

MF: Most people don’t realize that the vast majority of flowers sold in the United States are imported from abroad. Over 75% of flowers sold in the U.S. come from Colombia alone. So it’s a hugely global industry and the system required to get a stem cut from the savannah outside of Bogotá to your kitchen counter before the flower wilts is incredibly energy intensive. Not to mention the ills of the lax labor and environmental regulations abroad. Meanwhile, we’ve had a whole floral industry here in the U.S. decimated in the 25 years since the passage of the global trade deals that facilitated this shift. People maybe think about trying to buy their food locally, but buying local flowers hasn’t really penetrated. There are some wonderful local growers that we work with through the North Bay Flower Collective who grow beautiful flowers and are amazing designers. Support your local flower grower!

Photo: Ryan Mastro; Outside Lands

You could say Flower Lands has really blossomed over the years. (Pun intended.) How will it continue to grow in 2019?

MF: Outside Lands has always been at the forefront of sustainability on the festival scene, but, as we get into our second decade, we’re really looking to double down and become the unquestioned global leader in large-scale event sustainability. That involves looking at every element of the festival and a lot of long-term thinking, but, for 2019, we’re uniquely positioned to highlight the value of sourcing flowers locally. Flowers have always been an important and powerful motif for Outside Lands, and we’re looking to emphasize that even more by empowering our Flower Lands team to extend their design talents and floral touches beyond the confines of the Flower Lands area in Eco Lands.

Check out the complete Outside Lands interview with Morgan Fitzgibbons at https://www.sfoutsidelands.com/news/inside-eco-lands-with-morgan-fitzgibbons/.Additional Photos: Tom Tomkinson; Jeremy Cohen; Virginia Cortland; Ryan Mastro; Outside Lands

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Photos: Elephant Family; Annette Bonnier
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Wildlife conservation organizations driven to protect and promote awareness of the planet’s most vulnerable and endangered species are critical in the fight against extinction. Being a voice to those who have none is an art that requires limitless compassion, relentless creativity and unwavering determination.

Meet Ruth Ganesh – Principal Trustee of the charity Elephant Family, the UK’s biggest fundraising effort for the endangered Asian elephant.

Photo: Ruth Ganesh; Ruth Powers


In honor of World Elephant Day this August 12th, Ganesh and the entire team at Elephant Family urge us to get behind the most enormous, curious-looking, awe-inspiring, majestic and arguably the most intelligent animal alive today.

Elephants are endangered across Asia, with only an estimated 40,000 remaining in the wild – a 60% decline over three generations. Asian elephants live across a vast range of 13 countries, from India to Indonesia, yet their global population of 30,000-50,000 is barely 10% of their African cousins. While all elephants face the threats of habitat loss, conflict with people and poaching for ivory, Asian elephants are also threatened by illicit live trade for the entertainment industry and, most recently, by poaching for the illegal trade of their skins.

Photo: Herd that dust together, stay together; Ganesh Raghunathan


Ruth Ganesh is a trustee and co-founder of Elephant Family, a charity that exists to save the iconic Asian elephant from extinction. She assumed the job in 2010 after starting with the NGO in 2004, working alongside its late founder and legendary conservationist Mark Shand (he was the brother of Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles, who with her husband Prince Charles are the charity’s joint “royal presidents”).

Ganesh joined forces with Shand in 2004 and has been at the forefront of the charity’s conservation successes ever since. Since 2004 she has raised millions for the endangered Asian elephant, its habitat and the people who share it. She has further expanded Elephant Family’s global reach by pioneering brand new and innovative ways of fundraising, breaking world records whilst doing so. Ganesh currently divides her time between Elephant Family UK and USA, as well as the organization’s projects throughout Asia. Her specialty is conceptualizing major public art events, which have raised over $10 million for conservation thus far.

Photo: Ruth Ganesh, Artist, Colleague; Michael Turek


For Ganesh and everyone at Elephant Family, protection of the Asian elephants’ rapidly shrinking habitat due to economic development is the number one concern. The organization’s mission is to power solutions that prevent conflict between humans and elephants, demonstrating how the two species can co-exist. That means working to create safe homes for both elephants and people by reconnecting forest fragments, maintaining elephant migratory routes and helping farmers protect their crops and homes.

Photo: Ganesh of NCF monitoring elephants walking through the tea bushes in Valparai; Kalyan Varma

While elephant ivory remains the most valuable part of an elephant, the growing demand for elephant skin and other parts continues to drive up the demand. Elephant Family has been investigating the illegal trade in Asian elephants since 2014, through research, analysis and field investigations. Initially monitoring live trade, the organization was alarmed to discover a marked increase in poaching in Myanmar, where in 2017 a herd of 25 elephant carcasses, including calves, was found stripped of their skin. 

Ganesh’s latest large campaign – Coexistence – involves a herd of 100 life-sized elephants touring the Globe including the UK in 2020 and the United States 2021. Working with The Real Elephant Collective, a South Indian conservation-led organization, Elephant Family has employed a team of over 70 tribal artisans to create the sculptures, each one based on an elephant that lives in the area. The sculptures are made from the toxic, invasive weed Lantana camara – clearing the forest of it to make the herd conserves vital elephant habitat.

Photo: Latana Elephant Herd; The Real Elephant Collective

As well as supporting Coexistence by visiting the herd as it is displayed, you can buy a sculpture ($6,000-$39,000) or sign up to The Matriarch Club – booking themselves a place to join us on a leg of the tour in the USA. The elephants are almost ready to take their first steps on a life changing journey across the globe as part of a female led campaign which will raise $10m for human wildlife co-existence projects globally and put the issue of human-wildlife-conflict on the map.

In honor of World Elephant Day on August 12, please consider making a donation to Elephant Family. Visit www.elephant-family.com.

For more information on joining the Coexistence Tour or adopting an elephant, please visit https://www.coexistencetour.org/

Additional Photos: Ganesh Raghunathan; Compass Films; Stuart Dunn

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