Indiana Daily Student

Sustainability Fair in Maxwell Hall to feature environmental groups, live music

Josie Sparks holds up a woven mat made from plastic bags at last year's Sustainability Fair. This year's fair will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Maxwell Hall.
Josie Sparks holds up a woven mat made from plastic bags at last year's Sustainability Fair. This year's fair will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Maxwell Hall.

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

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

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

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

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Students will also be given a punch card representing each table at the event. Visitors who visit each of the clubs will be entered into a giveaway for a gift card to local businesses like Soma Coffee House and Juice Bar or the Owlery Restaurant.  

For Buskirk, the Sustainability Fair is a way to provide grassroots groups with a voice and support local bands or businesses. 

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

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

“It's so important for college students to get involved with this, because we do have a pretty big say in what happens to the Earth,” Buskirk said. “We're the generation that's going to have to live with the consequences if we don't take action.” 

Josie Sparks, IU sophomore and founder of Yellowwood Youth – a Bloomington non-profit – has personally adopted that mission for change. In 2019, the then-high school junior created the organization to provide environmental education resources to young people.  

Today, Sparks works on the Yellowwood Youth podcast, where she interviews leaders of climate groups from around Indiana and across the country. At the fair, she will be teaching visitors how to weave mats out of used plastic bags to then give to Bloomington’s homeless community.   

As a Bloomington local, Sparks said she is no stranger to student activism on campus. To Sparks, that activism is Bloomington’s fuel.  

 “Having the students be loud and proud and in the way all the time – even if it's in a casual way – having that presence and constantly pushing is what makes a difference,” she said.  

Sparks said she’s looking forward to promoting the causes in an energetic, but lighthearted way. 

“To keep it fun and keep it light and more about involvement and connection, rather than just direct protest, is powerful in a different way,” she said.   

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

“In the past, we've all had very disjointed and different movements,” Das said. “That's going to continue, which is awesome, because they're all equally important. But just having those connections with each other and getting to know each other, then hopefully bringing more people into that community is something that I'm really looking forward to.” 

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

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

“That helped me discover things I could be doing actively to help contribute,” Umana said. “Ideally, I'd like for everyone attending to be able to learn something new that they can do to make some positive change.”  

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