SECIA kicks off Earth Week with Como Green Village Day

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the Southeast Como Improvement Association hosted the Como Green Village Day at Van Cleve Park to encourage environmentally friendly behavior, kicking off the beginning of Earth Week. University of Minnesota alumna and event coordinator Stephanie Hankerson spearheaded the event, which drew about 200 people and was also sponsored by the Neighborhood Revitalization Project, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Metro Blooms, the McKnight Foundation and a $1,000 grant from the University. âÄúThe intention is implementing the sustainability of this community,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs a changing world, and we need to be more conscious on what weâÄôre doing in this built environment.âÄù In the previous three years, Como Green Village Day was part of âÄúBeautiful U Day,âÄù but this was the first year it was separate. A variety of organizations promoting recycling, such as the Active Energy Club , Cornercopia , Hennepin County Environmental Services , Metro Transit and Stink Outside the Bottle , set up informational booths to demonstrate ways to improve the environment. One of those techniques was wind source power promotion through Xcel Energy , which doesnâÄôt generate pollution in the air or water and doesnâÄôt produce hazardous waste. Other events included a silent bike auction, free food, a live band and an item swap called the Como Eco-Exchange, where residents would swap their unwanted belongings. One of the performers, local band Turn Back Now, offered their services free of charge. âÄúIt was a nice day âÄî itâÄôs always fun to rock out,âÄù band member Claude Culotta said. University senior Bethanie Kloecker , a SECIA intern for the past four months, helped set up the event Saturday. She lived in the Como neighborhood for two years. Despite not being a resident, she said she still puts a lot of effort into the communityâÄôs sustainability and describes her experiences with SECIA as âÄúvery positive.âÄù âÄúI think itâÄôs important to get invested in the neighborhood,âÄù Kloecker said. âÄúSo many donâÄôt get involved.âÄù Both Kloecker and Hankerson believe the Como area is loaded with University students who donâÄôt get as involved with the community as they should, likely because students only expect to live there for a short period of time. Hankerson said SECIA is committed to building student support for community welfare and local events, something the group finds as a challenge. âÄúWith so many students moving in and out, itâÄôs hard to get a hold of them,âÄù Hankerson said. âÄúWeâÄôll continue trying to get the word out.âÄù