Student group hosts environmental fair

It also worked with the band Guster, who will perform on campus April 11.

by Allison Wickler

An environmental fair might be the first track of an environmental compilation, eventually bringing music to students’ ears.

After becoming an official student group this semester, Concerts for the Environment is sponsoring an environmental fair in the Great Hall at Coffman Union today, providing a platform for a number of environmental causes.

“(Students) hear about it, but what can they do, really?” said communications senior Nick Rudolf, Concerts for the Environment president. “This fair is really an attempt to answer that question.”

The original purpose of the group was to sponsor an environmentally-charged concert featuring a music celebrity, Rudolf said, but they changed focus when they realized there wasn’t enough money.

where to go

Environmental fair
What: Environmental groups are sponsoring the fair. Attendees could win a PS3 or a chance to meet Guster.
When: Thursday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Coffman Union Great Hall

The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Student Board and Re Gifts, an eco-friendly gift store, will have displays at the fair, as will Ben and Jerry’s, who will provide free ice cream as part of their Lick Global Warming campaign.

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group plans to ask students to call state legislators and ask them to support the Global Warming Mitigation Act, which gives measures to limit pollution that contributes to global warming.

MPIRG’s environmental sustainability task force leader Leo Kucek said that when groups with similar causes only work separately, their ideas can get “lost in the buzz and chatter of the University.”

By answering a series of environmental quiz questions, fairgoers can register to win a PlayStation 3 game system, a meet-and-greet with the band Guster when they perform for the Minnesota Student Association’s “Lend a Hand, Hear the Band” concert April 11, or a copy of Guster’s latest CD.

“A lot of people look up to musicians,” Rudolf said, “and musicians have a way of reaching out to students.”

The creation of Concerts for the Environment shows in part the growing trend in pairing environmental causes with music concerts and tours.

Rudolf said Guster’s current “Campus Consciousness” tour is actually an environmentally-friendly tour, and the band contacted him to help set up some of the sustainable ideas they bring to campuses across the country.

Guster band member Adam Gardner will speak at a town-hall style forum the day of the concert; he will discuss the sustainable elements of the tour, he said.

Gardner and his wife, Lauren Sullivan, founded Reverb, a nonprofit organization that connects artists who want to incorporate green elements on their tours.

The Campus Consciousness tour buses are fueled with bio-diesel, Sullivan said. Tour members and staff also use aluminum water bottles and eco-friendly cleaning products, and they recycle through the venues’ recycling programs.

“We’re not purists ourselves,” she said. “We’re just trying to make the tour greener.”

MusicMatters, a marketing organization based in Minneapolis, also connects artists with environmental and social causes, and communicates that message to their fan base, sustainability manager Chris Baumgartner said.

“It’s a time-honored rule for musicians and artists to speak out,” he said, “and typically fans will follow the artist’s lead.”

Companies like Reverb and MusicMatters make bands that spend months driving in diesel-fueled buses and using lots of local resources more credible.

“The work that we do Ö (gives) artists the authenticity to speak to their fans about environmental change,” he said.

He said environmental causes differ from other social causes because musicians can actually practice what they are advocating.

Rudolf said while the fair has been the group’s main focus, he plans to keep trying to host a big-name concert in the future.

“Hopefully Dave Matthews someday,” he said.