What is Solar Fest?
“We work hard to make Solar Fest an event of arts and entertainment, but at its core it is a time for environmental advocacy.” –President of Campus Ecology
“Solar Fest is an annual, FREE solar powered music festival promoting sustainable habits and environmental education, bringing people together for good music and times.” –http://wkne.com/events/solar-fest-2016/
Solar Fest has the goal to bring light to something in a non-traditional way. It is a time of awareness and environmental advocacy and sends a message to many people. It originated in Vermont in 1995 and has evolved into a three day music festival, recently moved to the Southern Vermont Arts Center. The event has caught on in a few colleges across New England, including University of New Hampshire and Keene State College.
Keene State College’s group Campus Ecology adapted their own version of Solar Fest back in 1996, and it has been a success ever since. Keene State has seen many years of a Harvest Fest in the fall as well, with a similar concept of Solar Fest, on a smaller scale.
The inclusion of music draws in a crowd that might not otherwise stop by. The event is filled with environmental themes, so even those who stop by briefly will be introduced to several concepts. The most important, of course, being the solar powered truck that allows the bands to play. Seeing this truck power the music will make people think in a certain way. It takes something that many people know to be right, and make them mindful about it— even if it is just for a minute.
In recent years, speakers have been invited to present between bands. The push for environmentalism has been evident in both the speakers and community participation. In 2016, Solar Fest saw over 1,500 people. The speakers can range from a variety of positions and all share the same message of environmental advocacy. In 2017 speakers came from on campus and discussed Fair Trade and Divestment.
A shocking 90% budget cut affected the organizations ability to integrate the community as well as it had the previous year. As a result, the group opened up Solar Fest to be available to other groups on campus in ways it has not been beforehand. This founded involvement from groups like the Art Collective who hired a high school student from Brattleboro to perform on the side for a portion of the day.
In 2016, NextGen Climate gave a $2,000 donation. This environmental lobbyist group then had representatives spend the day at Solar Fest talking to many individuals, some who later became volunteers for the organization during the election season. These volunteers, made sure people voted for environmentally oriented groups- a core belief of the organization.
Other groups, like the Wormtown Trading Co. have been a part of Solar Fest for years. This company, also founded in 1996, sells primarily hand made goods from around the world. They take these products and sell them at places like Solar Fest
- Solar Power
- Solar power is electricity that is harvested through the sun’s rays, usually collected in solar panels.
- The college puts money that alumni donate into a mutual fund. These funds invest in places such as real estate, banks, and fossil fuels— and the school eventually earns money back on their investment. Students at Keene State have been petitioning for the college to stop putting money towards fossil fuels, and move towards clean energy or other socially conscious mutual funds.
- Clothing swap
- The clothing swap is an indirect way to deal with overproduction. Overproduction of clothing has become a huge crisis, especially as the fast and easy culture has kicked in. Many clothing industries are producing clothing so quickly, they do not mind creating clothes that will fall apart quickly, as trends are changing as fast as clothes are put out.
- Plus, there is a surplus of clothing produced that is never actually sold. Whether it was produced wrong, later damaged, or just did not fly off the shelf it is an ongoing problem.
Speakers and groups:
- Pipeline activists
- Moms clean air force http://www.momscleanairforce.org/
- Revision Energy https://www.revisionenergy.com/
- Monadnock progressive alliance http://www.monadproalliance.org/
- NextGen Climate https://nextgenclimate.org/