Earth Day, on April 22 this year, serves as an annual observance of giving back to and celebrating the planet. Emerson’s first Green Gala, celebrated 20 days prior, intends to be a way for students to get a head start on the celebration.
The Green Gala will be held on Thursday, April 2 in the Paramount Center. This event is hosted by Emerson EcoReps, an on-campus organization of students paid to promote sustainability and educate their peers about how to be more environmentally conscious, according to EcoRep Jade Zaroff, a sophomore performing arts major.
Emerson Sustainability Coordinator Eric Van Vlandren, who oversees the EcoReps program, said he remembered big concerts and festivals in celebration of Earth Day when he was younger, and thought that Emerson should start having a yearly event to honor the occasion.
“I hope that the [students] get exposure and awareness to the breadth of the programs that we have for sustainability,” said Van Vlandren. President M. Lee Pelton, who appears in promotional posters embracing a globe, said the event is a positive reflection of the college’s mission.
“Preserving and sustaining the resources of this planet is critical, and it's especially critical to future generations,” said President M. Lee Pelton. “The Green Gala will allow Emerson to highlight its strong commitment to sustainability and environmental issues.”
Zaroff and Olivia Rubbo, a sophomore performing arts major, took over the project from there. Zaroff said EcoReps knew they wanted to do something this year in support of Earth Day, but they weren’t sure what, and originally aimed small. Their plan started out as a talent show, according to Zaroff; the main focus at first wasn’t the event, but getting people together for the cause of sustainability. Over winter break, Zaroff said she began to envision something bigger and, with help from Rubbo, the Gala began to take shape.
“I hope the students can watch the performance, with 13 totally different student organizations doing a performance to celebrate one thing [Earth Day] and show that there isn’t a specific way to practice sustainability,” said Zaroff. “You can do it in however you want, through arts [or] through recycling; you can celebrate this day in any aspect that you want.”
The Gala will begin with a reception in the lobby of the theater. Four booths are planned for students to learn about a variety of green topics. The Kappa Gamma Chi sorority will be showcasing from Metawear, an eco-friendly apparel company, and Under the Canopy, an organic linen company that will be raffling off bedding at the event.
Members of different sustainability-oriented organizations are scheduled to be available. Representatives from Broadway Green Alliance, a company dedicated to making the New York theater district more environmentally friendly, plan to talk to students who are looking to get involved with green causes off-campus. Sodexo will provide vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free food for guests to snack on while exploring the booths.
Tickets are $5 and are available at the Paramount box office. Proceeds will go toward the Emerson Green Fund, which puts money towards making the Emerson campus and community more sustainable and less harsh on the environment, according to Van Vlandren.
Thirteen student organizations will be performing with a green theme throughout the night, including Emerson Shakespeare Society, the comedy troupe Police Geese, and the theater company Kidding Around. Performances are set to ranging from a cappella songs to short skits.“I’m really excited to see all of the groups come together,” said Rubbo. “We have seen all the performances separately, but seeing it as one complete show it will be really fun. So many people are becoming united.”
Jack Ganley, a member of Police Geese, said that his group will be performing an adaptation of its skit about being at a spelling bee. The troupe picked this because it was easy to incorporate the Earth Day theme and because the skit uses most of the troupe’s members, he said. Ganley said that when Zaroff approached the group to ask if they wanted to be involved with her plan for an Earth Day event, members had no hesitations.
Sophomore “I think events like this are huge on so many levels,” said Ganley, a sophomore visual and media arts major. “It really is just what Emerson is all about.”