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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