The Earth (Every) Day campaign took to putting education in the community first Thursday with the Downtown Sustainability Fair.
The event was in partnership with “Thursday on the Platz,” and featured local food vendors, music and numerous organizations to offer information on “how to green their lives,” said organizer Maggie Pettersen, who is a member of the Sierra Club and a University of South Dakota alumna.
Tables were lined up in Vermillion’s Ratigen Platz, on the corner of Market and Main streets. Participants were arriving throughout the two-hour event that began at 5 p.m.
The fair was planned to be a mix between “a green festival and a typical Thursday on the Platz,” Pettersen said. Organizations like the Red Earth Cooperative, Missouri Valley Recycling and Landfill and South Dakota’s Canoe and Kayak Association were on hand to answer questions and engage fair-goers.
“There is this wonderful component of teaching here between the groups that volunteered and the community members who were willing to come out and join us,” Pettersen said.
On one side of the fair, there was a rainfall simulator. Next to this, tables displayed repurposed items made by Vermillion’s Civic Council. Members from the local parks and recreation department discussed and showed ways to properly plant with residents.
The diversity of organizations and interaction with the community are two elements Alice Alexandrescu said made the event a success. She has worked extensively with planning the week’s events, and promoting them with outlets like the website, SustainableVermillion.org.
She said one of the major goals was to use Earth Day as a way to bridge economic, environmental and social issues in the community through multiple sustainable events.
“Solidarity — we wanted to really refocus on this in the community and all these organizations, and just show how many of us are working toward common goals,” she said.
Members of USD fraternity Beta Theta Pi served as volunteers during the fair. They helped with trash pick up earlier in the day, and assisted with various jobs for Pettersen to prepare for the event, said sophomore Tyler Jackson, Beta’s philanthropy chair.
Jackson is a sustainability major, which is how he first heard of all the events being held for the Earth (Every) Day campaign. Jackson said when it came time to arranging an event for his fraternity, this opportunity was hard to pass up.
“We are seeing the locals (at the fair), and it shows them that (students) care about the community, too,” he said.