Last year, Los Angeles-based health advocacy group Broccoli City brought the first annual “urban Earth Day celebration” to the District with Broccoli City Festival. The event, which attracted more than 5,000 attendees, featured performances from the likes of Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. and local artists like Phil Adé and Black Alley, all for the sake of promoting sustainability and green living. The festival returns for its sequel tomorrow.
“Even with all of our success in 2013, the focus was measuring and comparing our performance,” co-founder Brandon McEachern explained in an email. “Once we identified what went right and what went wrong, we built on those best practices and improved upon our shortcomings.”
This year, the group made the decision to relocate from the Half Street Fairgrounds to St. Elizabeth’s East Gateway Pavilion.
“Along with Gateway Pavilion being aesthetically best suited for [the festival], there’s a special connection between many long-time D.C.-area residents and Southeast,” McEachern says. “Southeast is an area rich in multicultural heritage that’s often obscured by a negative perception. So it sort of turned into this opportunity for us to utilize a new space with numerous green elements, as well as neutralize the unfavorable connotations associated with Southeast.”
Broccoli City also sought to beef up this year’s line-up. The bill includes heavyweights like rapper Cam’ron and producer/DJ Just Blaze, as well as rising acts like GoldLink, Sango, and Kelela, booked by talent buyer Henny Yegezu. “I wanted the line-up to be a bit more eclectic this year,” Yegezu says. “With the great message and built-in crowd that Broccoli City Festival has, I wanted to expose a few new artists that I think are amazing, like Sango and GoldLink. Once Cam’ron was booked and we were looking for a dance DJ, with all the new stuff Just Blaze is doing, I thought it made a ton of sense while still keeping the urban theme.”
In addition to the onstage entertainment, Broccoli City Festival will also feature a pop-up marketplace with live art installations, a 5K run, yoga, and reiki. McEachern hopes Broccoli City will strike a balance between promoting personal and environmental well-being and offering a fun, crazy festival atmosphere.
“With any grassroots campaign, it’s important to meet people where they are,” he says. “Not saying that the only thing people think about is partying and having a good time, per se, but most of us are certainly drawn to festive environments that provide a certain level of comfort.”
Are there some people who will only be in attendance for the music tomorrow? Absolutely. Still, Broccoli City wants everyone to show up with an open mind and leave somewhat enlightened about sustainability. “As long as we’re planting those seeds of change,” McEachern says, “We’ve done our job.”