Local Routes Program
Earth Day Spring Fling
In celebration of Earth Day, the groups threw the Earth Day Spring Fling outside of Homer D. Babbidge Library. The festivities, which included nearly 30 different groups with educational displays, games and give-a-ways, as well as a live band and Local Routes cookout, stretched the full length of Fairfield Way.
"It's the biggest Earth Day celebration UConn has had in a long time," said Richard Miller, director of UConn's office of environmental policy (OEP). "You'd probably have to look back to the early 70s [to rival this year's celebration]."
The Spring Fling drew crowds of approximately 1,500 to 2,000 students and community members throughout the afternoon and more than a few odd characters. In addition to Jonathan the Husky wandering the crowd decked out in EcoHusky garb and posing for pictures, festival-goers were entertained by four street performers on stilts, three man-sized vegetable characters, two cows (one real and one man in a suit) and claymation character Gumby. During the band's performance, the characters and performers gathered in the middle of the fling and danced.
"Earth Day is huge compared to last year," said Alysse Lembo, a 6th-semester natural resources major and EcoHusky co-coordinator. "It really helps that we teamed up with [Dining Services'] Local Routes. The food is a big draw and they've really helped attract more people and been able to help us get a lot more done. The turnout has been awesome."
The Department of Dining Services provided locally produced hamburgers, hot dogs, mushroom-burgers, ice cream and produce. Additionally, they played a key role in bringing in many of the groups showcasing at the festival, according to Lembo. After eating, festival-goers learned about recycling and composting food waste from EcoHusky volunteers stationed at every trash bin. According to Jessica Regan, an 8th-semester English major and EcoHusky volunteer, the plates and plastic wear, which were made from corn, were specially formulated to be compostable.
Live music for the celebration was provided by Revision, an Ithaca, N.Y.-based band with a smooth and funky sound and a strong environmental conscience. The band fuels their van with vegetable oil, which drastically cuts the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they produce while crisscrossing New England from gig-to-gig.
"Another band we were friends with was [running their van on vegetable oil] and we were blown away by it," said guitarist Nick Bullock. "It's much cheaper and it's a good way to help [the environment]."
A number of high-profile university officials were also in attendance at Tuesday's festival, including Vice President John Saddlemire, who was seen mingling with students.
Near Gampel Pavilion, off-campus presenters were displaying a number of hybrid cars, including a Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and a Honda Civic from Manchester Honda that had been converted to run on natural gas.
One notable student group in attendance was the recently formed Green Grads, which is a group for environmentally minded graduate students.
"We're affiliated with the ecology and evolutionary biology department right now but the idea is to be open to the entire grad student community," said Carrie Fyler, a ecology and evolutionary biology graduate student. "There's EcoHusky for the undergrads. We're an environmental group [providing opportunities] for grads to get involved, too."
The Green Grads were offering information about carpooling, reusable canvas bags and on-campus composting. According to Fyler, one of their early initiatives was posting stickers in graduate student residences that prompted residents to reconsider their energy consumption habits.
Another off-campus group was the Cool Coventry Club, which was distributing information about climate change and alternative fuels.
"Our goal is to educate people on the local, state and national level about what they can do about climate change," said Colin Carlson, director of the Cool Coventry Club and a Coventry resident. "That's why were here today - letting people know about [climate change]."
EcoHusky continued a tradition this year by creating a Mount Sneaker - the culmination of the sneaker recycling program - that dwarfed last year's effort. Last year, a total of 3,000 pounds of shoes were collected. This year, Mt. Sneaker began with a 1,500-pound donation of old sneakers from the UConn Health Center, according to Leah Giffin, an OEP intern and an 8th-semester environmental policy and legal studies major.
Contact: Timothy Bleasdale at Timothy.Bleasdale@uconn.edu.
Spring Fling 2007
The 2007 Spring Fling was a rousing success with great food, live music by Peter Tork, formerly of the Monkees, and his band, Shoe Suede Blues, and local vendors rounding out the event. A great time was had by all.
Spring Fling 2006
The Department of Dining Services Local Routes program hosted the second annual Spring Fling last Friday, April 28th on Fairfield Way in front of the library. UConn students, faculty & staff enjoyed delicious grilled burgers and hot dogs from Four Mile River Farm in Old Lyme, CT, and grilled Portobello mushroom burgers from Franklin Mushroom Farm in Franklin, CT.
Accompaniments included foods from the New England region and UConn's own Dairy Bar ice cream. Vendors included the AgriHusky EcoGarden Club, Helyn's Clean Solutions, Jones' Apiares, Rich Valley Farm, Storrs Farmers' Market and the Willimantic Co-op. Everyone enjoyed roving entertainment including stilt walkers and jugglers as well as live eclectic mountain music performed by The Can Kickers from New London, CT.