There was a pen container made of candy wrappers, a tree with iron wire as branches and used light bulbs as fruit and a mosaic scene composed of outdated poster pieces. On Friday afternoon, trash art came to Old Campus.
“Greenfest,” an event co-sponsored by Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership and Yale Student Environmental Coalition to raise awareness of environmental issues, featured organic barbecue, informational posters, live bands and of course an opportunity to make trash art. The stream of students throughout the three-hour event seemed to enjoy the free food — while it lasted, at least — though some questioned how much information their peers actually absorbed from the event.
Three tables of posters provided explanations and information on cap and trade schemes for carbon emissions, offshore drilling, clean coal and biofuels. Other posters compared the environmental policy stances of presidential candidates Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.
YSEC co-chair Ariel Patashnik ’09 said she hopes that by publicizing the environmental activist community at Yale, students would take away more than cocktail-party facts from Friday’s event.
“There are people around them at Yale who are working on these issues,” Patashnik said, adding that Greenfest was just one way for students to learn more about environmental policies.
In addition to studying up on environmental trivia and controversies, participants also worked on communal art projects.
Students pasted oddly shaped poster pieces onto a blank recycled-paper board to create an environmentally friendly landscape scene, which will be displayed on the STEP board on Old Campus for the next year.
Another participant favorite was the light bulb tree. Students wrote one or two sentences or drew small pictures on the light bulbs, including sentiments such as “Gasoline-free transportation in my lifetime” and “I hope my children’s children will be able to enjoy nature and its beauty.”
The barbecue stand served burgers —both meat and vegetarian — along with organic apples and potato chips. But the food ran out partway through the event, Patashnik said.
After a performance from Laura Zax ’10 with her band and a duo by Jacob Bruene ’09 and Kurt Schneider ’10, groups of students sang unaccompanied or with their own instruments.
The event attracted not only hard-core campus environmentalists, but also students just passing by.
“I am not currently involved in any environmental organizations on campus, but I definitely sympathize with their causes,” Matthew Bedrick ’12 said, reaching up to put a light bulb on the tree. “The music is cool… and Obama’s environmental policy seems good.”
But some students said the event might have been less successful than some of STEP’s other efforts to educate Yalies about environmental concerns.
“I don’t know if [Greenfest] conveyed a continuous environmental message,” Taylor J. Smith ’10 said. “But other things STEP has been doing, like having people in the dining hall, helped me pay more attention to the environment and become more proactive and apply the knowledge to my own life. When I go to the dining hall I don’t use trays, but only use a plate, a fork and a knife.”
The fate of the light bulb tree — currently in a YSEC member’s common room — is still undecided, Patakshnik said.