Annual Fall Fest Promotes Sustainability Through Skill Sharing

Photo by Katie Bei Heald ’18 | Smith's Green Team spreas the word about their Clean Plate campaign at the annual Fall Fest.

Photo by Katie Bei Heald ’18 | Smith’s Green Team spreads the word about their Clean Plate campaign at the annual Fall Fest.

Hira Humayun ’17

This year’s annual Fall Fest, organized by the eco-rep facilitators took place on Oct. 21 in the Campus Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate sustainability and promote practices within the Smith community that work towards a sustainable future. This year the event’s theme was skill-sharing. The student organizations that participated this year worked to help the student body realize how many resources and methods for collective sharing exist within the Smith community.

In order to educate students, organizations present taught the community a number of skills that promote sustainability, including how to repair and create new things through crafts like sewing, knitting or crocheting. Organizations like VOX and Engineers for a Sustainable World set up tables to educate the community on their topics of specialty.

“It helps us promote our org and it helps promote diversity,” said Quincy Dean-Slobod ’17 of the Ukulele Club and Fiber Folk, a club for those interested in knitting, crocheting and other kinds of fiber art, “I’ve been knitting and crocheting my whole life so I’m just teaching people whenever I can.”

“As eco-reps our job is to foster awareness of sustainability-based issues and to inspire people to make little changes in their lives,” said eco-rep Chase Macpherson ’20. “For Fall Fest, we are bringing awareness about ways that people can contribute to sustainability on campus.” Sewing and mending clothes were among some of the skills taught at Fall Fest as a means to reduce waste, while second-hand clothing was also available to prevent the creation of new waste.

“As eco-reps, we are really into uniting all these different orgs,” Macpherson said. An open invitation to Fall Fest was extended to student organizations whose aims and initiatives align with the move toward a more sustainable lifestyle and practices in the community.

“There are a lot of orgs that are green-based, like Divest and Green Team,” said Macpherson. “A lot of things are relevant to sustainability and it’s a really diverse topic. So people were open to come up and use this venue to get their word out too.”

VOX’s Sarah Shannon ’17 and Camille Williams-Ginsberg ’17 were at the event to provide education about more sustainable women’s health options. “We have information about reusable menstrual products on our table and are trying to encourage people to use things like organic tampons or reusable menstrual cups,” said Shannon. The organization, focused on reproductive health, rights and justice attended Fall Fest to encourage people to decrease the amount of waste they put into the environment.

“An average person produces 300 pounds of waste in menstruating life,” said Ginsberg. “So we’re talking about alternatives, like reusable pads. A lot of people won’t know about it.”

The Planned Parenthood-affiliated student organization aimed to get the conversation about reusable menstrual hygiene products started at Fall Fest.

“The reason why we wanted to participate in fall fest is because both environmental justice and reproductive justice really prioritize the wellbeing of people in their environment and ensure that people are living in a safe environment,” said Shannon. “As an org we really try to discuss how broad reproductive justice is and how many intersections there are,” said Ginsberg. “So we really focus on doing events that you wouldn’t originally put with reproductive justice.”

Design Thinking Initiative also had a table at the event. Natasha Sharma ’17 and Laura Lilienkamp ’18 were showcasing their independent study, building an art piece with the community that aimed to foster a sense of belonging among the Smith community. “We are trying to understand how people can create their own pathways so it’s just a really rough iteration of what could be potentially a big community art piece that could be collaborative,” said Sharma, highlighting the group’s aim to see how people are responding to certain material and ideas.

“I think it’s important that we’re at Fall Fest because what we’re doing is inherently about sustainability… a community has to be sustainable and think about long term things in order to thrive. We want to incorporate that into our project both in terms of theme and materials we used,” said Lilienkamp. Keeping with the theme of sustainability, the materials that the group uses are all reusable.

Engineers for a Sustainable World is another organization that aimed to spread their message about sustainability through information regarding their sustainability projects. Currently designing a solar ray to power a fridge for Grow Foods Northampton, the organization educated the community on how solar power works. Naylanie Halpern-Wight ’18 was at the table with an activity where community members could learn about the different components of a solar ray.

The student-led environmental organization Green Team also took part, promoting its clean plate campaign. “We’re working with students to try and get them to take only as much food as they can eat at the dining halls and to bring back their dishware, because Smith spends about 40,000 a year replacing dishware every year. It’s really expensive and the money can go to other places,” said Alexandra Davis ’18. “We’re here at Fall Fest to talk about our org in general, and ways that you can get involved on campus.” The organization has had a number of campaigns from reducing the carbon footprint to GMOs, focusing on a different campaign each year. “This year we are focusing a little closer to Smith on issues that relate directly to students,” said Davis.

Divest was another group aiming to get their message out to the community at Fall Fest. “It’s a social justice movement,” said Celeste Venolia ’17.

“Primarily people from underrepresented backgrounds, that are more commonly oppressed are people that are most affected by fossil fuels,” Venolia explained that a large percentage of the student body agreed with divestment, “As an environmentally related org fall fest has just been something we come to every year to help spread our message.”

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