RayDay: Beginning a New Tradition
By Emily Griffith, Sustainable Newton Member
On Sunday, October 16, Sustainable Newton was one of ~50 organizations invited by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation to participate as Eco-Exhibitors for their RayDay Celebration at Serenbe in south Fulton County. It was an honor and privilege to be included in this annual celebration of the foundation's namesake. Sustainable Newton member Emily Griffith attended with her family and shares this first-hand account of a very amazing day.
When my family and I embarked on our journey to Serenbe, we didn’t quite know what the day had in store. As we drove through the breathtaking countryside, I began to take note of my surroundings, making sure to soak up the atmosphere. The bustling noises of the city soon transformed into birds chirping and insects trilling. Sun-dappled roads lined with forest escorted us to our destination among the pines. As we inched closer to our destination, the serene and silent parade of electric vehicles signaled that our first-ever RayDay was just around the corner.
Once parked, we were greeted by smiling faces as we embarked toward the sustainable haven set up in the forest. Serenbe boasts a beautiful 25-acre organic farm on the grounds, providing fresh produce to residents and visitors alike. The biophilic community encompasses many pedestrian paths as alternate and green forms of travel. Each path provides a direct route through the tranquil landscape to reach your destination in a timely manner. Everywhere you look around Serenbe, you’ll see active dedication to a sustainable future.
The short walk from the fields to the venue nearby provided a truly panoramic view of the RayDay festivities. Tents were in place to provide participants with shade as they explored the many vendors of the event. Carnival rides, face painting, and a petting zoo adorned the center of the event, encouraging the next generation to carry the baton forward through fun and games. Food trucks along the back of the tents provided festival-style foods to the crowd, offering a sweet taste into vendor sustainability practices. In fact, RayDay had everything one would expect at a state fair, but with one glowing difference: everything, down to the recycling receptacles, was in place to protect the environment while generating awareness.
After briefly wandering the grounds, I joined my fellow Sustainable Newton friends at our booth to engage attendees in green conversation. Nestled between other amazing vendors, we were able to network and collaborate with others, sharing our recent accomplishments and highlighting more initiatives on the agenda. As crowds gathered near our table, members discussed and answered inquiries from adults and children alike. We were among friends, as we shared our mutual goals for Tomorrow’s Child. At Sustainable Newton, we say "There's no time like the present to give our children a better future." The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is likewise focused on the the vision that drove Ray Anderson and inspired everyone who knew him: caring for Tomorrow's Child. That caring was central to everything about RayDay.
Thanks to our business partners in Newton County, our booth was able to offer an exciting raffle with some serious sustainable swag, including graciously-donated items from Rivian, Ascend Elements, and 80 Acres Farms.
Rivian's Public Affairs Manager Peebles Squired joined us to discuss his company as an example of the kinds of sustainable businesses being attracted to Newton County. He and his team also brought along two of Rivian's flagship electric vehicles -- the R1T truck and the R1S SUV. This close-up encounter allowed event attendees to sit in the driver’s seat, quite literally, and test out the many user-friendly features.
BlueBird showed us the promise of a better future for our children, as they demonstrated their electric school bus. This bus is standard in size and capacity with the only differences being an added green stripe with logo and, of course, zero emissions. Many counties in Georgia have applied to a program to receive the new electric fleet of school buses, including Newton County. If chosen, we will let you know so you can keep an eye out for the proposed green buses around town.
We would like to recognize our partners who helped Sustainable Newton show up and show out for the cause. Without support from these sustainably-minded businesses, we wouldn’t be able to spread our message and make such a large impact locally.
Special thanks to:
Everyone at RayDay shared one common goal, and it resonated with everyone present. The entire atmosphere generated positivity and awareness. It also conjured something fleeting that I haven’t felt for a very long time now… hope.
Hope for a better world moving forward.
Hope for Tomorrow’s Child.
The Ray C. Anderson Foundation invited eco-exhibitors to RayDay with a simple calling: “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.” As we returned home, our focus shifted back to Newton County where we continue our work. Sustainable Newton has many ongoing initiatives you can read about HERE. Our goal is to bring together individuals and businesses in the area to preserve and promote our little corner.
I now I have a new tradition for my family every year that will serve as a fervent reminder that anybody, anywhere, can make a difference.
Help us continue these local efforts and show your support for Sustainable Newton HERE.
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