Organizers rapidly are preparing for September’s GreenLifeXpo, and their idea for the sustainability-based event all started with a book.

“It was a book on how different communities around the world had built up in sustainable ways,” said Monica Lobenstein, a GreenLifeXpo committee member. “Some (people) got really excited about the idea of building that sustainability and having more of those conversations.

“The GreenLifeXpo came out of those discussions.”

The UW-Extension’s Community Partner Advisory Committee discussed the book, and out of members’ interest came the GreenLifeXpo’s organizing committee. The expo is set for Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be held at the National Guard Armory in Black River Falls and the neighboring American Legion Post 200 building.

The event will bring in exhibitors from across the state who will educate about various green practices and ways to promote sustainability. The GreenLifeXpo organizing committee has been sending out invitations to various individuals and businesses to garner exhibitors, and it also has been soliciting funding.

“We want to save the planet,” said Mary O’Brien, GreenLifeXpo’s coordinator of marketing and promotion. “We really have to do something. There are so many small things we can do just to get us started, but we need to increase the knowledge base of how important it is to our environment.”

There also may be area tours, including one of the Tom and Verona Chambers home. The Chamberses’ Brockway home is intended to produce as much energy as it consumes. There also may be a walk-through of the Spaulding Road Community Garden in Black River Falls.

“We want to increase (visitors’) knowledge base of what all is available out there and how people can continue to go green or start going green,” O’Brien said.

So far, the event has brought in about $11,000 for its operation, and O’Brien said the committee is working to raise more to grow the event even further. GreenLifeXpo recently received a $5,000 grant through the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and that required the committee find a $5,000 match, which came from Black River Falls Municipal Utilities. Xcel Energy and Focus on Energy each contributed $500.

“We’re a good way toward our goal,” O’Brien said.

Lobenstein, also Jackson County’s 4-H youth development agent, will organize youth activities at the event. Although many details haven’t yet been worked out, she said some will address wind power and biofuels. She also may put together a reading list, which will allow youth to find library books related to the environment.

Lobenstein, like O’Brien, said she’s excited about the event’s potential to educate county and area residents.

“... It’s to increase awareness of sustainability topics and resources — things about renewable energy, conservation, recycling and sustainable living in general,” she said.

There likely will be an admission fee for the event, but it has yet to be determined, O’Brien said.

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