What do banjo playing, slam poetry and solar energy all have in common? On their own, not a lot. But when you put them together, you get The Solutions Grassroots Tour.
Solutions Grassroots, created by Oscar-nominated director and environmental activist Josh Fox, is an educational workshop whose goal is to motivate people across the country to adopt renewable energy solutions. With the help of the International WOW Company, Fox and his team of environmentalists travel from town to town in order to produce an “interactive music, theater and film event” that helps “develop renewable energy through culture and grassroots democracy” and “campaign for pro-renewable energy legislation.” Previous guest hosts have included Mark Ruffalo and Phylicia Rashad.
The tour swung by Ithaca College this weekend, giving environmental activist groups from Tompkins county the opportunity to participate in the ongoing discussion of environmental safety.
One of the main groups present at the tour was GoGreenNY, the state’s leading organization working toward a sustainable future. The organization, which hosted the event, started out as an effort to protest against hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking“, but has since expanded to advocate for innovative strategies for renewable energy.
Alicia Alexander, the GoGreenNY’s founder, believes that with education and widespread group effort, people across the country will be able to join the environmental movement in order to have a fully “green” democracy.
“GoGreenNY’s goal is to very creatively raise the consciousness of New Yorkers…and citizens throughout the world to our desire and our vision to be the first state in America to commit to a green agenda and to apply ourselves economically to a green economy,” she says.
“We are hoping and believing that the governor is willing to work with us to move ahead and really make New York into a leadership state.”
Along with music and a screening of environmental documentaries, guest speaker Zephyr Teachout gave a mini lecture–and a brief poetry recital–on environmental safety and what she hopes will come out of the Green Party’s political movement.
“I want something very simple,” she says. “Which is to be able to breathe and eat and drink safely.”
A total of 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins such as lead, mercury and formaldehyde. This, in turn, puts the safety of water sources and soil within an area undergoing fracking at risk. Several incidences have been reported of people being able to light the water from their kitchen sink on fire as a result of recent fracking and gas drilling around their area of residence.
In recent years, several areas within middle U.S. (especially Oklahoma) have had an increase in earthquakes due to fracking. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity that has caused considerable public concern as well as damage to structures. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes.”
Despite the ongoing debate, the Green revolution is still going strong. More and more local organizations are joining the fight for a sustainable future. Here are some environmental organizations around the Ithaca and greater New York area: