TC Rocks Earth Day | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC Rocks Earth Day

Folk singer Pete Seeger headlines day devoted to promoting the environment at TC's first-ever Rockin' Earth Day Fest.

“This world is going to be saved not by big things but by millions and millions of little things,” announced folk music legend Pete Seeger to the sun-soaked hundreds who gathered in Russell Courtyard for Teacher College’s Rockin’ Earth Day Fest on April 18.  

So began Seeger’s performance at TC, switching between his banjo and 12-string guitar as he sang classics like “This Land is Your Land” before an appreciative and enthusiastic audience, often urging everyone to sing along, as with the syncopated chorus in “Take It from Dr. King:”

Don’t say it can’t be done
The battle’s just begun
Take it from Dr. King
You too can learn to sing
So drop the gun

“I think Pete was a perfect choice for this event because of his commitment to the environment and the way he lives his life,” said TC student Jaymie Stein, co-chair of the Go Green Committee, which organized the event.  “We wanted a musician who many generations could relate to. Pete has a way of reaching newborn babies all the way up to elderly people. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of.” 

Seeger, a longtime environmental activist, was the headline act—the lineup also featured bands Broken Wind, Urban Sun and Sounds of Cuba—that drew hundreds of people within and outside of the TC community to the event intended to promote the environment.

Vendors and display tables filled the courtyard, where people could learn about different green initiatives like greenmarkets and other local food movements, purchase organic baked goods or herbal drinks, and even make art, instruments, and clothing from recycled materials.   

The idea behind the Rockin’ Earth Day Fest began in the fall after the Go Green Committee learned that Brita, the German company that makes water filtering products, was sponsoring a $10,000 grant for a college-initiated environmental event or project. Though the committee did not receive the grant, the effort provided the impetus for what became the first Earth Day festival ever held at Teachers College. Earth Day, which is celebrated around the world, is designed to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the  environment.

In addition to the Earth Day festival, the Go Green Committee, which is co-chaired by Stein (M.A. candidate, Art and Art Education) and Natalie Hadad (M.A. candidate, Developmental Psychology), has launched a pilot project to increase recycling at the College. Other initiatives designed to make TC more eco-friendly are also in the works.

“We hope people who came to the festival learned how they can reduce their carbon footprint,” Stein said. “We hope they learned how important Mother Earth is and how the way we live our lives really impacts our future. We hope attendees saw how to think creatively when it comes to the environment, and we also hope people had fun and celebrated the earth.” 

Published Friday, Apr. 24, 2009