Sustainability fair at Maxwell Hall with environmental groups, live music

IU student and environmental groups from Bloomington will team up to present the Sustainability Fair at Maxwell Hall on Saturday at 2 p.m.

During the event, several local environmental groups will share information on how to get involved with their organizations, ways to put sustainability into practice, and community resources to connect with environmental advocates. Local bands Chair in the Air, Too Many Cooks and Kickin a Corolla perform throughout the afternoon.

Faith Buskirk, IU senior and co-president of Beekeeping Club, hosted this year’s Sustainability Fair, first presented last spring. She called the event a “mini engagement fair” — a space for students to explore local climate groups and find the best fit for them.

The Beekeeping Club, along with some of the other groups represented on Saturday, will be offering interactive activities and information at their booth. This year, prospective club members can decorate plant pots while learning about the Beekeeping Club’s mission, Buskirk said.

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Students are also given a punch card that represents each table at the event. Visitors who visit each of the clubs participate in a gift card giveaway for local businesses such as Soma Coffee House and Juice Bar or the Owlery Restaurant.

For Buskirk, the Sustainability Fair is a way to give grassroots groups a voice and support local bands or companies.

“I (want to) create a platform for all these organizations to come together and host this really cool event for students, give people a way to get involved and just have a good time,” she said.

As Generation Z grows up and takes on roles in politics and sustainability, Buskirk said she is hopeful that this age group will create positive change in a way that previous generations have not.

“It’s so important for college students to get involved in this because we have quite a bit of control over what happens to the Earth,” Buskirk said. “We are the generation that will have to live with the consequences if we don’t take action.”

Josie Sparks, a sophomore at IU and founder of Yellowwood Youth — a nonprofit based in Bloomington — took that mission for change personally. In 2019, the then high school junior founded the organization to provide environmental education resources to young people.

Today, Sparks works on the Yellowwood Youth podcast, where she interviews climate group leaders from across Indiana and across the country. At the fair, she teaches visitors how to weave mats from used plastic bags and then give them to the homeless community in Bloomington.

A resident of Bloomington, Sparks said she is no stranger to student activism on campus. For Sparks, that activism is Bloomington’s fuel.

“If the students are always loud and proud and getting in the way — even if it’s casual — having that presence and constant pushing makes all the difference,” she said.

Sparks said she’s looking forward to promoting the causes in an energetic, yet light-hearted way.

“Keeping it fun and lighthearted and more about engagement and connection, rather than just direct protest, is powerful in a different way,” she said.

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Sidd Das, chairman of IU environmental group Students for a New Green World, said he also looks forward to creating connections during the fair. Das said he hopes the activism groups can share resources, collaborate and just create a social atmosphere for each other.

“In the past, we’ve all had very disjointed and different movements,” Das said. “It goes on like this, which is great because they’re all equally important. But just having those connections and getting to know each other, and hopefully bringing more people into that community, is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Too Many Cooks bassist and IU alumnus Andrew Umana said he hopes performing at the Sustainability Fair will enable him to make positive change through his music.

When the band performed at the show last year, he said his favorite part was a station the students set up for everyone to write down one helpful thing they could do to impact the planet.

“That helped me discover things I could actively do to contribute,” Umana said. “Ideally, I’d like everyone who attends to be able to learn something new that they can do to bring about positive change.”

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