The Boulder Public Library became a center for sharing stories and discussing global topics this weekend as it hosted the fifth annual Colorado ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival.

“This library becomes magical and colorful and exciting,” said Barbara Steinmetz, who lives in Boulder. “You meet authors who have such amazing experiences. There’s so much diversity. I love this festival. It’s such a gift to Boulder.”

The free, two-day festival wrapped up Sunday. More than 50 speakers and performers from across the world, along with multiple local authors, participated. Last year, about 11,000 people attended.

The event is an offshoot of a festival with the same name in Jaipur, India, that’s been called the “biggest free literary festival on Earth.” It draws over 300,000 attendees a year.

The theme for this year’s Boulder festival was “Each Other’s Stories.”

The festival featured interviews and panel discussions on themes that included immigration, globalism, mysticism, poverty and leadership. There also were writing workshops on comics, science fiction and storytelling, plus a yoga storytime. Both days started with music performances.

by Amy Bounds/Daily Camera

Poet Jovan Mays tells a story while leading the “On Finding Your River” writing workshop Sunday at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival at the Boulder Public Library.

Sunday, topics ranged from the future of natural food to water issues in the West to Latinx voices.

Ryan Stoa, author of “Craft Weed,” talked about the potential for sustainable, local and artisanal farming of marijuana to revitalize rural communities.

He wants to see an appellation system for cannabis products similar to the system used for wine, allowing for quality control and more consumer choice.

“You couldn’t just flood the market with one generic cannabis product,” he said, adding a working group he’s part of in California is looking at an appellation system with quality, sustainability and production standards.

Harvard American history professor Sven Beckert talked about the global history of cotton and its connection to modern capitalism in a conversation with Pardis Mahdavi, director of Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation.

Beckert, who wrote the “Empire of Cotton,” discussed the increasing demand globally for cotton garments and the “unprecedented” rise of fast fashion — and the concurrent negative environmental impacts.

“Once upon a time, a piece of cloth was valuable,” he said. “Oftentimes, people would keep it for generations.”

Paying $3 for shirt at a retailer like H&M, he joked, almost makes the shirt not  worth washing after wearing it once, much less wearing it many times.

“The world we live in now, it’s a completely wasteful use of resources,” he said.

He also addressed how critical American slavery was to the success of the cotton industry and the country’s economy. While Americans generally accepted that slavery was terrible, he said, they made it easy on themselves by viewing it as only a marginal part of U.S. history.

“We all inherit that history,” he said. “You can’t just pick the nice parts and ignore the not so nice parts. Slavery has an impact on patterns of inequality today. We need to confront this history.”

Attendee Anu Wahi bought Beckert’s book and asked him to sign it, saying she wouldn’t have considered a book on the history of cotton before hearing his lecture.

She and her husband travel from Maryland every year for the festival.

“You really get to talk one on one to the authors,” she said. “I love this space and the city of Boulder.”

Source link