By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 03, 2008 at 5:29 AM

If things look a little greener around here this April, there’s a good reason. Our editorial staff is busy expanding the ideals of Earth Day into a month-long celebration of energy conservation, alternative transportation, recycling tips and about a million ways you can be a better friend to the planet. Welcome to Green Month, Milwaukee. 

Don't listen to Kermit, it can be pretty easy being green.

And to help show you how to live a greener life, Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful hosts the Green Living Festival at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (you call it The Domes), Saturday, April 5 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

According to Executive Director Joe Wilson, the event aims to provide basic, direct information to help people make a difference.

"It sounds simple, but some people need to be educated (about) water conservation at home, healthy eating, being able to purchase groceries without plastic bags," Wilson says. "We just want to talk to the individual because they're very confused. They think they need to install solar panels and buy a new water heater. So, we're dealing with it in little chunks."

The event features exhibitors like Stone Creek Coffee, Whole Foods, Growing Power, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Focus on Energy, the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, Hunger Task Force and Future Green, among others, offering easy ideas for going green.

There are also "Green Talks" every 30 minutes focusing on topics like composting, rain barrels, water conservation, container gardening and biodiesel fuel, as well as activities aimed at children -- like trash art -- and at adults, including a recycled clothing fashion show and a demonstration on cabinet making without electricity.

"We've got professionals in the field of energy efficiency, bicycles, composting, rain barrels," says Wilson, naming just a few. "We're talking to people about riding the bus. How do you get on the bus, where will it take you, how is it efficient.

"We're talking to the general population of people who want to make a difference in their daily lives in how they participate in green living. So they can say, ‘What can I do in my world that can make a difference?'"

This is the second time that Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful has organized the event, although Wilson admits that last year's debut was a little off the mark. There was a very low turnout, he says, but he believes he knows why.

"We've learned from our mistakes," Wilson says. "The exhibitors we had were really high-end exhibitors, who sell solar panels and that sort of thing. The people that did come were homeowners, people that had an interest in geothermal heating -- stuff way over the heads (of many people). We analyzed that and we decided what we have to talk about is green living."

Last year's event was held at the KGMB headquarters and Wilson says that was also a mistake, in retrospect.

"We're located in the Menomonee Valley and nobody could find us," he says. "This year we decided it was simple green living we wanted to get to and that's exactly what the Domes are. That is green living going on, so it's a good match."

The Domes are also centrally located, well known and have plenty of free parking -- all things that are a good match for the event, Wilson says.

There is no admission charge to the festival, although visitors must pay admission to the Domes ($5 for adults, $3.50 for kids 6-17 and free for children 5 and under).


Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.