Although not as widely attended as the annual scavenger hunt, community day was one on the most popular events at this year’s frosh week thanks to a new event called Atlantic Acts of Green.
By Whitney Cant -September 30, 2011
Frosh participants went around HRM collecting video pledges from local businesses about what they plan to do to help the environment. They collected videos from businesses such as Video Difference and Atlantic Superstore, as well as from MP Megan Leslie.
Dan Brown, one of the coordinators of Atlantic Acts of Green, points out that so many businesses were willing to submit video pledges because they were contacted before frosh week and given a list of changes they could make from the Ecology Action Centre, such as changing to more energy efficient light bulbs, one of the most popular pledges made.
Brown, who studies sustainability, was eager to incorporate environmental activism into frosh week from the beginning. “It would be great for the King’s community,” he said. But for the first month and a half or so, Brown and the other frosh week coordinators Noah White and Kate Wakefield had some trouble getting this project off the ground.
Things changed when Wakefield’s cousin, owner of green building company ThermalWise, gave them the idea they were looking for and “even came up with the project proposal,” said Brown. With this supportive nudge from ThermalWise, Brown, Wakefield, and White further developed Atlantic Acts of Green as a frosh week event.
Brown says that Atlantic Acts of Green received overwhelming support, and the King’s faculty was “quite surprised and impressed” with the project. Students, and especially frosh leaders, were excited because it was so straightforward: Brown says there was “minimal input and maximum output,” part of the reason why it was so widely attended. Brown believes that Atlantic Acts of Green got students involved in a way that immediately shows results, compared with Shinerama, where “people don’t exactly get to see their efforts pay off.”
Brown says that Atlantic Acts of Green was “a very positive and very forward way of getting people involved.” Brown and his team were excited that so many businesses wanted to participate, but even more so that many businesses went the extra mile, taking the basic pledges and personalizing them to their own businesses. The fact that so many businesses cared about the project to the point where they weren’t reading the pledge off a script made Brown feel like the project was generating positive activism.
Brown says that Atlantic Acts of Green was primarily meant to draw immediate attention to environmental issues. So many businesses were willing to spend time and money changing their habits that Brown wants this project to inspire others to “go out there and take action.” Brown believes there is a great potential in the HRM and he looks forward to seeing the next generation of activists.
This could be happening right now, as the KSU’s Emma Norton is working on harnessing the energy generated by the frosh to propel them into Green Shift Week. Participating students try to eat local and produce little or no waste. Atlantic Acts of Green and Green Shift Week are meant to draw the Frosh into the activist community, and to inspire them to give back to their communities, Brown says.
Brown was utterly blown away by “the turnout, and the excitement, and just the level of positive energy through the whole event.” He, Wakefield and White had so many students involved with the project that they didn’t know what to do with them. Atlantic Acts of Green was so successful that Brown recommends that it become an annual event, but that decision is up to next year’s frosh week coordinators. Brown says that Atlantic Acts of Green would be “incredibly satisfying to new students,” and he would love to see the project expanded and repeated year after year.
So far, only a handful of video pledges have been uploaded to the website, but it seems likely that Atlantic Acts of Green will continue to grow and expand. The site says they will add new information soon for other businesses and homeowners on how to submit their own video pledges to support the project: “This is only the beginning.”