Student’s Corner

If you’ve been out and about in the Rochester area recently, you may have heard the buzz about Greentopia. With a home base in the High Falls district, Greentopia’s mission statement is progressive, if a little passive: “To celebrate, educate and promote sustainability in all its forms, for better living, stronger communities and a healthier planet.” So while you won’t find a strong political agenda, the festival’s focus on spreading sustainability through other means—namely, art and education in its many forms—speaks more to the residents of Rochester, or at least the portion that has access to an event of this kind (more on that below).

The festival has been busy all week with a variety of film screenings, art exhibits, discussions, local food events, and even an innovation conference at some very cool local, independent venues including The Little Theater, Good Luck, The Shoe Factory Art Co-op, and many more. Reminding Rochester’s residents to keep their money local by supporting sustainable business initiatives that are already developing or in place is important, and the diversity of events and locations that Greentopia has to offer succeeds in spreading that message.

If you’ve missed the variety of events held across the city this week, don’t fear! This weekend brings ECOFEST, a more concentrated portion of the festival that offers family-friendly activities such as a farmer’s market, vendors, a kid’s corner, wine and beer tastings, and a plethora of musical performances and arrangements. The wise location choice of the High Falls District is a great way to bring the community into a newly energized space. Although historically important, the district had been all but forgotten for a number of years, until recent construction has brought the area more attention. This idea, of course, of the re-use and re-purposing of older and out-of-use spaces is both innovative and important in a city like Rochester, where many downtown storefronts remain empty. Revitalizing empty spaces can perhaps be one of the easiest ways that Rochester can both grow by bringing in new businesses and remain sustainable through the new use of old spaces.

A primary example of this re-use will be on exhibit tonight at 35 State Street. This location will land you outside of an old bank, but step inside and you’ll see that the area has been transformed into a “Night in the Forest.” The mystical makeover of the inside of this bank ties together indoor and outdoor spaces, through the use of lighting and art to the rumor of s’mores! Stop by tonight for a film screening and a closing party, before you venture to ECOFEST tomorrow.

As with any event that requires money to function, of course, there are some drawbacks. As much as these events may spread education and awareness to their audiences, these audiences may only represent a select portion of Rochester residents. The admission rates of some events appear to be pretty high and it seems that most event venues stick to higher-class neighborhoods.

And then there’s the problem of corporate support. Honest Tea is bringing a pretty cool interactive exhibit to ECOFEST this weekend; a larger-than-life recycling project. Although the company carries with it the slogan “Be Real. Get Honest.”, the company’s true loyalty and commitment to the organic and environmental movement may have solicited a more controversial status when Coca-Cola bought out the company in 2011. A need for financial support, though, has a tendency to bring up such issues. Overall, Greentopia seems to have done a pretty great job. Besides, who doesn’t want to climb a magical staircase and throw her empty bottles into a giant recycling bin?

For more information on Greentopia’s ECOFEST events (the FREE portion of the festival) this weekend, check out their website. See ya out there!

Written by Kathleen Shannon, Class of 2013

2 Replies to “Student’s Corner”

  1. Thanks for your comment! I also hope that this festival, as well as the numerous other festivals that take place in the Rochester area throughout the year, make future plans more inclusively in the future, whether that be by spreading the festival throughout other parts of the city, or providing a wider variety of events at lower or no cost.

  2. Very interesting and informative! The class analysis of festival goers is an important one and your acknowledgement of corporate implications is completely necessary. I had no idea Honest Tea was bought out by Coca-Cola! Overall, those who are capable of making it to the festival will absolutely have a great time! Perhaps the festival should takes strides in the future to find ways to cater to a wider demographic and ensure that ALL Rochester community members from ALL walks of life can find the information to be interesting, affordable, and most importantly relevant to their lives. Excited to hear more from this new Green Dandelion journalist!

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