I have just spent an extended time in a captivating part of Southern California known as the Hollywood Riviera.
It is so named because during the silver screen’s heyday, Hollywood stars vacationed in what was then a remote and beautiful coastal retreat southwest of Los Angeles. The scenic cliffs reminded many of the French Riviera, thus, its name.
Today, the Hollywood Riviera and its historic business district, the Riviera Village (Redondo Beach), remain a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, many of whom are committed to an eco-friendly lifestyle. As a result, green-minded event planners may take advantage of some delightful, boutique resources.
Located in this historic area, you will encounter an enchanting events venue called The Village Garden. This garden space was designed by native residents Rocky and Sophia Post. Their vision was to create an environment that blends beach ecology, culture and art into a tranquil spot where people may gather. The result is a magical space filled with plants, fountains and small treasures hidden around every corner.
The Village Garden hosts weddings and parties as well as business and club meetings. Clients may opt for complete catering and event set-up services, or they may bring in their own food and beverage. There are many eco-friendly restaurants in the immediate area (like the Green Temple) that are available to cater at this venue. Up to 45 people can be seated for formal dining, and larger groups may be accommodated for casual events.
Owners Rocky and Sophia are eco-enthusiasts who are also falconers. They sometimes bring their birds with them to the venue, so it is possible to see them if you drop by during business hours. Their Great Grey Owl is available for event appearances. For details, visit www.redondovillagegarden.com.
One of my favorite destinations is the Green Temple Restaurant, a short walk from The Village Garden. Owner Elena Streskova and her husband have both been vegetarians for many years. It was their goal to open a restaurant that was not just healthy, but “where people can feel good about what they are eating,” said Streskova.
To Streskova, this meant more than just vegetarian cuisine. “Sustainability for us is not a few activities, but an evolving culture.” To demonstrate, the restaurant buys much of its food from a local farmers market. “Dried produce, like rice, beans, nuts, etc., we buy from a wholesale distributor, and it is all organic.”
“For to-go salads, sandwiches and drinks, we use corn-based biodegradable containers; all of the other containers are recyclable.”
Streskova leads by example. She explained that voluntarily and actively implementing business practices to care for the environment is a “much more powerful tool than an imposition of rules.” She also admits that it can sometimes be a challenging and seemingly invisible effort.
The restaurant offers a soothing Eastern-themed décor, including a lovely outdoor dining area with a central fountain. While the venue will accommodate relatively small parties (up to 16 people), it does provide carryout catering for larger, outside events. Visit the website at www.greentemple.net to see photos of this beautiful venue and to learn more about menu options.
The Hollywood Riviera offers many more sustainable choices in dining, entertainment and shopping. Some who deserve an honorable mention are Turquoise Organic and Natural Mediterranean Café (www.turquoise-restaurant.com) and 22 Degrees (www.22degrees.net), home of the nation’s first ever, organic, prebiotic gelato. Even those restaurants that do not hold themselves out as green-themed, like Chez Mélange (www.chezmelange.com), conscientiously provide biodegradable to-go containers and buy locally grown food items whenever possible.
Planning eco-friendly events often means utilizing small, privately owned businesses that are actively engaged in green practices. I consistently find that the quality of goods and services I receive from these businesses is outstanding, owing to the mindset of those business owners who have real compassion for people and the space we occupy.
Visit www.bchd.org to view the results of the Beach Cities Health District Blue Zones Project. “This initiative aims to create a beach city community that is more walkable, bikable, healthy and socially engaged – where the healthy choice is the easier, more appealing choice.” During my stay in the area, I have observed many ways in which this initiative is contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle. The principles of this program may be applied to the creation of temporary sustainable cultures for event communities as well as long-term corporate cultures.