Earth Month 2013

April 30, 2013

Galesburg Earth Day Festival 2013

The Earth Month 2013 celebration ended with a flurry of activities, as Knox College students and members of the larger Galesburg-area community joined forces for a Day of Service and the Galesburg Earth Day Festival.

For the Day of Service on April 27, volunteers performed community service at several Galesburg locations, including Discovery Depot Children's Museum and O.N. Custer Park. The Knox College Mortar Board sponsored the event.

Boe Chmil, a first-year Knox student, said he wanted to perform volunteer work as part of his involvement with Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He helped clean the park as part of the Great American Cleanup, a nationwide initiative to collect trash and recyclables (photo at bottom right).

"Today was a perfect day to do it, and there were a lot of opportunities for volunteering," he said.

Knox seniors Hannah Basil and Stephanie Peter, along with about a dozen other volunteers, helped Discovery Depot with preparations for a renovation project. They demolished old cabinets, planted flowers, and cleaned.

"I think there's something about power in numbers," said Basil, referring to the large number of volunteers. "It's fun to walk over together as a big group. There's a sense of camaraderie."

Peter added: "It's giving back to the community. It's a chance for Knox to get involved in Galesburg."

Earth Month activities also included the Galesburg Earth Day Festival (photo at top), hosted the afternoon of April 27 on the Knox College campus and organized by KARES and Knox's Office of Sustainability. The festival featured vendors, informational booths, musical entertainment, and children's activities.Ben Sollee concert

As Knox's spring EquiKnox presentation, musician Ben Sollee -- a cellist, singer-songwriter and environmental activist -- performed a concert (photo at right) and conducted a question-and-answer session.

"The purpose (of the festival) is to gather people in the community for a day of playing outside and celebrating the Earth," said Knox junior Danika Hill, co-president of KARES. That helps strengthen the relationship between Knox College and the rest of the community, she said.

Booths at the festival were operated by several organizations and individuals, including KnoxCorps, Galesburg businesses Stray Cat Art and Cornucopia, Carl Sandburg College, Gary Lay of Solar Wind Alternative Power, and Cordelia Kaylegian of Cordy's Country Kitchen.

The Carl Sandburg College booth featured information about a new associate's degree program in biofuels manufacturing technology, which will be offered starting in fall 2013. The program targets people who want to work in such fields as biodiesel production, water treatment, and ethanol production, said Charles Young, coordinator/instructor for the program.

"I felt renewable energy and Earth Day went hand-in-hand," he said.

At Keylegian's booth, visitors could buy homemade bread and other baked goods. Many Knox students spend time with her at the Galesburg Farmers' Market and at her farm, Nature's Way Farm in North Henderson, Illinois, she said. She added that she encourages them "to take more responsibility for what they're eating" by growing and preparing their own food and by shopping locally.

Knox College Sustainability Coordinator Shawn Tubb said the festival was intended to build on the theme of "one community" and to get across the idea that community and sustainability are interconnected, just as Knox and Galesburg are interconnected.Great American Cleanup

"We wanted to really make it clear this year that Earth Day was for the entire community, not just Knox," he said.

Another goal, he said, was to offer family-friendly activities that would appeal especially to children because Earth Day is very popular with children. The festival also provided an opportunity for Knox students to interact with children through activities such as face-painting and pedaling a bicycle that was specially rigged to blend smoothies.

The visitors on campus included Golam Kawser of Houston, Texas, who was on campus to visit his son, Nafeeul Araf, a Knox junior.

"This is nice. It's kind of a bonus to us," he said of the festival.

Spearheaded by KARES, the 2013 Earth Month celebration in April consisted of more than two dozen events on and around the Knox campus. The events included workshops, films, volunteer activities, and lectures, including a discussion on "green jobs" and sustainable businesses.