A warm spring breeze blew across the Great Lawn as students gathered to celebrate Andover’s first Earth Festival. To honor Earth Day by raising awareness about climate change and sustainability in a light-hearted way, there were various performances by groups such as SLAM, Footnotes, and Indigo, along with multiple soloists including Leverett Wilson ’23 and Esme Young ’23. The event also displayed an art exhibition, spoken word-poetry reading, a comedy show, and food.
Brian Masse ’23, the main planner of the Earth Festival, acknowledged that although education-focused events throughout the week were beneficial to learning, there are also ways to make climate change engagement less information-heavy. Masse shared his hopes that the event showed students that engaging in climate awareness can be as simple as going outside and enjoying the fresh air.
“We had a great week of more academic and education-focused services like the Divestment Debate, workshops, all that stuff, so really the main takeaway I was hoping students would have [from the Festival] was just a good time. I think a lot of times when you critically engage with climate action [and] climate awareness, there’s a kind of guilt and anxiety that accompanies that, and to combat that, after having a heavier on of Earth Day, I thought it would be nice to have a like ‘oh yeah, also it’s really fun just to be outside and enjoy fresh air’,” said Masse.
The Earth Festival was the culmination of various events organized throughout Earth Week, which involved a variety of clubs and organizations. Kicking off with an All School Meeting (ASM) by Sophia Kianni, there was a Climate Creative Writing Cafe with Karen Tei Yamashita and the Andover Writers Alliance, as well as a Divest Andover Open Forum hosted by the Philomathean Society. Students also got involved in a variety of sustainability-oriented initiatives across the Town of Andover, such as the neighborhood trash cleanup and the first Town of Andover Climate Summit led by student representatives Sonia Marnoto ’22 and Erin Kim ’23.
Frank Zhou ’22, one of the student leaders of the PASC, noted the importance of coming together as a community and providing students with opportunities to engage in conversations about sustainability.
“The Earth Festival… is the celebration of the work that we have done and a solemn look at what is to come. The tone of the event, then, is just as celebratory as it is solemn, and looking very much to convene people in a space that is at heart inclusive and friendly, but also we have a shared mission here, there’s something to galvanize around here. And so the festival [is for] student performers of all kinds—writers, artists, and singers—to showcase both the talent within the community and what we can do with that community,” said Zhou.
Karen Wang ’24, who helped with the art displays and advertisement for the festival, appreciated the Earth Festival’s emphasis on community building. Wang believed that the performers were able to communicate important issues in an accessible and engaging way.
“I think it was really cool just to see such a big group of people who were passionate about climate change come together for the first time in a long time, since before the pandemic started. I think the comedy act was cool, and how they incorporated climate change into how they can create something more light-hearted but also educating people on actual real change and making realistic goals,” said Wang.
Along with various performances, there were also mini-booths that displayed PASC’s work. Sebastian Lemberger ’25, a member of PASC involved in climate lobbying, explained how the festival allowed people to directly contribute to climate action by giving them access to making an amendment to a budget bill.
“I was there to get people to email the Andover representative about a specific amendment on the budget bill that needs to get passed. I am hoping that at least three people sent an email, but I also hope that it made Earth Week memorable, so that people take something with them, because often the reality of large activism-related events is that they happen for one week, or one day or something, and then they go, and people forget about them like two days later,” said Lemberger.
Zhou showed appreciation to the different groups around campus that collaborated to bring everyone together. As a Senior, Zhou hopes PASC’s work continues to encourage people of diverse interests to become engaged in learning and working towards change, no matter the medium.
Zhou said, “[I’d like to show] gratitude for the community members who have worked so tirelessly to support us, everyone from Student Council, to the Office of Sustainability, to the [Oliver Wendell Holmes Library], to the various academic departments, to the Dean of Studies Office. [And] if you’re interested in climate action, welcome, you’re among a community that has so many interests, that is sort of plugging into a movement that relies on the synergy of disciplines, interests, mediums and passions. So reach out to somebody who you’ve seen talking about climate action; we’re all an email or text message or Instagram DM away.”