Walking into Renee Warren’s Ren Gallery in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, it was immediately apparent this was the perfect space for the community to come together. Emerald Exchange, a festival that brings Northern California cannabis down to Los Angeles, was hosting a fundraiser to raise awareness and money for the NorCal growers community affected by the fires.
With a gallery space for music and treats and also an open patio area, the Rise Together fundraiser was filled with delights. Dan Braunstein’s Grassfed graciously provided a dab bar and also presented the amazing VR demo allowing guests to fly through Google Earth and swim deep under the ocean — all for a good cause. And after trying the demo I was very happy with my cannabis enhanced virtual vacation with the help of Grassfed’s Vive VR system.
Inside the gallery, Ry Prichard of TV’s Bong Appetit provided refreshments from his set-up by the stage, where he made liquid nitrogen live resin-infused sorbet. The Herbal Chef Gary Ngyuen provided CBD treats that were delicious and very light and empowering, and the ultimate hot chocolate treat was provided by Jambo, who was making vegan CBD drinks and sharing their products.
As the night continued with raffles and prizes, DJ SA Martinez of the band 311 was there spinning. The event culminated with a performance from rock star and activist Melissa Etheridge, whose presence anchored the evening.
Etheridge told the organizers that she wanted to be there to speak on the importance of community and staying true to plant medicine. And as a surprise, she brought out the legendary rock band Fishbone.
Michel Katz, one of the Rise Together organizers and a founder of The Emerald Exchange and Evoxe Labs said, “It was a real treat to see Melissa Etheridge jamming with Fishbone singing ‘cannabis for all of us’ and sharing their love for the community.”
And it really was a sight and sound to behold great artists, who some might think are an unlikely pair, sharing music and a positive message for the community. I had a chance to speak with Fishbone’s founding members and brothers, Norwood Fisher and Phillip “Fish” Fisher, and their front man Angelo. When asked why it was important to the band to attend the fundraiser, Norwood reminds me, “We have been part of this community for a long time.” And that could not be more true — in the band’s 38 year history, they have made many allies in the cannabis world. Norwood who also owns his own CBD business called Woodrow Labs Hollywood, added, “We used to have cannabis materials and literature on our tour bus to pass out at shows.”
Katz and the whole team of people that brought this event together hope to raise awareness about how devastating the recent damage and loss have been. Katz was very optimistic about the event’s success.
“Overall I would say the night was a huge success from an attendance perspective,” he said. “There were a bunch of really engaged attendees who were out to support the cause and had a great time doing it.”
His business partner and one of the organizers of the event, Justin Calvino said, “In Northern California, it takes fire to germinate the seeds of the redwood, among the redwood trees are communities that have been stewarding them all these years. Sometimes it takes a disaster to show how strong we are.”
In the future, Emerald Exchange says they will keep doing events under the Rise Together banner and will still be doing online auctions for fundraising. All the funds raised will go directly to the California Growers Association Wildfire Relief Fund.
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