Since the popularity of “An Inconvenient Truth,” it seems like environmental awareness has become “in style.” Instead of jumping on the “green” bandwagon though, Stanford students have taken it to the next level of environmental responsibility, and they actually managed to do something that most other events have failed to do in the past. They made sustainability something not just for a private group, but instead both accessible and fun.
Last weekend’s FutureFest focused on not only promoting, but more importantly, demonstrating sustainability…and “demonstrate” the festival did! A solar-powered car and smoothie-making bicycle were only two of many innovative displays set up on Saturday. Along with the many exhibits present were four main booths representing the festival’s four major themes of sustainability: food, water, energy and resources. Each booth was run by members of Students for a Sustainable Stanford in collaboration with other groups doing related work such as ESW, SWEP and Students against Poverty. It should come as no surprise that all the booths were impressive, each equipped with games, prizes, food and “experts” to shed light on their subject. From an online quiz measuring carbon footprints to a Fuji apple taste test, these interactive activities kept interest alive for hours. Plus, as added incentive to learn, after visiting each booth and receiving its specific stamp, students could head over to the main tent and receive a free FutureFest T-shirt.
As interesting as the booths and displays were, the stage is what really set the scene for the day. Countless student performances, including pieces from Andrew Plan, Hey Young Believer and Cardinal Calypso, provided entertainment and an energy-filled environment that lasted throughout the day. Those listening were quick to show their approval by shedding articles of clothing, singing along and breaking into dance around a giant carrot (which served as a visual petition for the Stanford Farm Project)–pretty much doing anything to “let loose.”
In no time though, the stage transformed and so did the festival along with it. Attention changed from the eclectic activities taking place to a single event: the Sustainable Fashion Show. Heads began to turn as models featuring “green” clothes by local designers took to the runway, and with witty commentators and stylish designs, the show proved to be quite fashionable indeed. In fact, after its end, festival-goers were left wanting more, and a trend of art appreciation was set. Soon, groups could be seen congregating around the pottery and face painting stands, everyone eager for their turn. People were able to get their art “fix” as they wandered into the tents that were still set up displaying student pieces from last week’s An Art Affair, proving to be another testament of how well this event was planned.
In an immediate and almost unexpected switch, environmental advocate and attorney Van Jones took over the stage at 4:30 p.m. and subsequently took over the festival. His message was meaningful and gave easy solutions to problems people tend to complicate, but also called for realistic expectations. “When you see people in opportunity, tell them about the crisis, but when you see people in crisis, tell them about the opportunity,” he stated. As simple as it was, his words not only seemed to touch but capture the hearts of his audience and inspire them to start making simple changes toward a better future. After answering a few questions, Mr. Jones left those who were listening wanting more and proved to be a hard act to follow.
However, De La Soul stepped up to the challenge, and it seemed clear that they came out determined to impress. The hip hop group managed to close out the night with a bang by delivering music with an amount of energy that students who were just enthused from Mr. Jones’ words could truly appreciate. Even though they were on White Plaza stage, the artists’ catchy songs could be heard as far as the Quad–a chorus of Stanford students’ voices, marked with an inspiration for change, sang along.
Throughout the course of the day, the FutureFest stage transformed into many things, including a catwalk, a rally and a concert, and somehow did so without overshadowing the true reason for the event: campus unity in a responsible preparation for the future.