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The Blue & Gray Press | February 21, 2018

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Homecoming goes green

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By HOPE RACINE

The Campus Consciousness Tour invaded the University of Mary Washington campus on Saturday, Oct. 26, bringing Grouplove and sustainability to students.

For several hours an “Eco-Village” was set up outside of Lee Hall, featuring booths for the Rainforest Alliance, Divest UMW, Eco Club and the Student Art Alliance (SAA). Each aspect promoted sustainability and gave students the ability to get involved and pledge to make a change.

The Rainforest Alliance was one of two non-student organization represented on Saturday. Represented on campus by Meriwether Hardie, the Rainforest Alliance is a non-government organization that endorses “fair trade” products, such as Lipton products.

Products that have been approved by the Rainforest Alliance sport a green frog seal, which guarantees that the product was made in accordance to strict environmental guidelines. Students who took a pledge to “follow the frog” agreed to support products that sport the Rainforest Alliance frog seal.

“In the end it comes down to make a change, and there’s more ways to make a change than just voting,” Hardie said. “This is like voting with your dollars.”

REVERB, the company that sponsored the Campus Consciousness Tour, was also present. REVERB seeks to marry music with environmental issues, and sponsors green music tours that also have a grassroots nature to them.

REVERB’s main goal is to educate musicians and fans alike and support sustainability.

“It’s really important to us to provide a consciousness platform, so we can spread ideas,” said Kristine Verbeeren, who helped run the Campus Consciousness Tour.

In addition to putting together the line up and the Eco-Village, REVERB offered two contests for students. The first was the chance to win a meet-and-greet with the band, while the second idea sought to promote sustainability.

The “Next Great Green Idea” contest encouraged students to submit their ideas for sustainability projects. The winner of the contest will receive a $10,000 grant to pursue their green idea. Students across the nation are welcome to submit ideas and the contest is not restricted to students from schools on the tour.

Student organizations such as SAA teamed up with the Campus Consciousness Tour to sponsor Art for Activism, a project where students collaborated with Grouplove to create a unique banner individual to each school.

Grouplove came to the eco-village to interact with students and help paint with SAA. Hannah Hooper, the singer and keyboardist of Grouplove, was actively involved with the art aspect of the tour.

“We love having the ability to mix art and music and sustainability,” Hooper said.

Painting alongside students from UMW’s art program, Hooper cracked jokes and talked about art, music and the environment with students.

“This has been such a great experience, getting to hang out with Grouplove, but also a little nerve wracking,” said Carolina Nativi, a senior art major in SAA.

“This is probably my favorite part of the tour,” said Hooper.

“Getting to interact and get to know the students is really great.”

The band members were not shy with the students, and they all jumped right into the various projects that students were working on.

Other students from the UMW Eco Club helped to build a greenhouse out of sustainable materials.

“There’s a community garden in the UMW apartments, so this greenhouse will go there,” said Katheryn Erwin, a sophomore international business major.

Erwin worked closely with Grouplove drummer Ryan Rabia, who helped students put together the green house while other band members assisted in the painting.

“We all really care about sustainability,” said Grouplove guitarist Andrew Wessen. “We’re all vegans, and we all compost at our homes in Los Angeeos. So it’s good to mix our music with something that matters.”

The rest of the band seemed to second Wessen’s opinion.

“As musicians, we have a powerful way to use causes,” Hooper said. “We need to show kids that it’s cool to care.”