Despite the wet, chilly weather on Saturday, May 5th, residents flocked to Go Green! Greenpoint!, Town Square’s 5th Annual Earth Day Festival at McCarren Park. The event featured a smorgasbord of events, from art exhibits, to educational displays, to crafting and athletic activities, to live music and more!
And, as Town Square Chairperson Susan Anderson said, rousing speeches by Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilman Stephen Levin, “helped bring the sun back out.”
“Greenpoint already has G-R-E-E-N in its name; now it has ‘green’ in its future!” Markowitz told the crowd of earth-friendly vendors and families.
Go Green! had activities to please both environmentalists and art-lovers who perused exhibits curated by Williamsburg artist Sally Webster. “There are so many artists in the community; it’s a great community-builder to include them at the festival,” Webster said. There were also plenty of art projects for children at various vendors’ booths, like Mini Jake’s, a Brooklyn-based kid’s store selling items made with recyclable materials.
“We try to work with companies that are environmentally-conscious,” explained Inga Rogers, who runs the store along with her husband. Illustrator Brian Yanish, who sells his children’s book, The ScrapKins Build-It Book at Mini Jake, was helping the youngsters at the booth with their eco-friendly art projects.
“SrapKins shows kids how they make all kinds of stuff, like bird feeders or pirate ships, with materials they find at home,” Yanish said. Signs of children’s artistic spirit were everywhere at the festival. In a nearby booth, P.S. 84 displayed artwork school children had constructed.
“Parents bring their recyclables and we create art projects with them. We call this one the chandelier,” said Edwin Soto of P.S. 84, pointing out artwork made with a bicycle rim, beads, and aluminum cans. “We’ve even got some that light up!” He added that the school’s committed to teaching environmentalism—they’re even planning to install a Greenhouse Classroom where students can gain knowledge of sustainable farming.
Ellie, a representative at Brooklyn Food Coalition’s booth, agreed with P.S. 84’s mission of growing healthy, organic food. “There’s three pillars the BFC follows—sustainable food systems, fresh, healthy food for all, and farm workers’ rights,” she said. “We’ve got lots of farming and environmental workshops going on.”
Many other eco-friendly organizations at the festival held Q&A’s with participants. Greenpointers with suggestions on how to use the $19.5 million won in the ExxonMobil settlement could stop by the Greenpoint Environmental Benefit Projects booth.
“We’re in the early stages of working with the community, listening to their ideas on how to invest the money,” said Peter Washburn, policy advisor for the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau. Ideas generated that day included greater access to a greener, cleaner waterfront.
As adults shared information with key organizations on how to live sustainably, kids showed off skills in dancing, karate, and gymnastics, thanks to the Greenpoint YMCA and other community organizations.
“This year, we had more children’s activities, and we wanted to reflect and showcase as many local organizations as possible,” said Susan Anderson. “The Earth Day Festival belongs to the entire community.”
The kids’ bright faces reminded participants of why the festival’s message of sustainability is so imperative—to ensure the planet remains livable for future generations.
As Marty Markowitz aptly ended his speech, “The future of America and Brooklyn depends upon preserving our environment […] We’re all united in this—that’s the future for these young kids.”