The sun beats down hard on Griffith Park, proving to be a sign from the gods that the Sol Festival 2000 was going to be one positive light.
The third annual event was organized by the Sol Foundation to support non-profit organizations in Los Angeles that are recognized for their effective human rights education, community organizing and service. The event is sponsored by a wealth of organizations, such as the LA Cultural Affairs Department, URB Magazine, Smokin' Mirrors Production, Solar Electric Inc, LA Weekly, Amnesty International, Gang Violence Bridging Project, Mujeres en Resistencia and Big Frente Zapatista.
An impressive cast of entertainers perform throughout the day, their equipment relying completely on solar energy from solar panels provided by the Solar Electric Incorporation. Musical groups such as Quetzal, Wozani, Michael Franti and Spearhead donate their performances as does the infamous comedy group Culture Clash.
Industrias Ilegales and Cultura y Mas are two of many booths that sell urban wear, while booths like Puro Arte sell cultural artifacts and more. Information booths are present, allowing people to pick up information to learn about political issues and how they can become active. Directly right of the entrance walkway is an unfinished mural, available for the public to pick up a paintbrush and add their creativity to the wall of explosive color.
"It is important to get people active in the arts," explains Nook, a muralist from Smokin' Mirrors Production. "We come out every year to make a mural with the public, and this year's mural has the theme of music." Looking over at the mural, I see people of all cultures painting in harmony. Together they would create a mural of vibrant color that expressed the cultural bond of rhythm and soul.
"The retail that we sell here does not promote separatism, rather it promotes cultural awareness that is a big reason why we are selling our stuff here," says Fano of Cultura y Mas. Cultural awareness and celebration seems to be a reoccurring theme at every booth selling retail. The promotion of education is at the forefront at the booth set up by Libros Revolucion.
Essays by revolutionary thinkers from distant eras are sold alongside Mumia's jail testimony. "We have a guest sheet that you can fill out if you want to be updated about our upcoming events that we hold at the store," assures the booth worker. A dance floor is available at the foot of the main stage for the public to dance to the rhythm of reggae, the beat of freestyle, and the lure of the Chicano sound. Those that need to replenish their thirst and hunger after a hard day's worth of dancing to the music of La Paz or Spirit Level, could choose to eat at the Thai - or any of the other strictly vegan food booths.
"The day was really successful, in the sense that we had a greater turnout than previous years," reported Gabby from the Sol Foundation. "We are here for the spirit of awareness, and this has been maintained throughout the entire day."