Don't Move Firewood Summer Interns start off at Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival!
By Annalena Barrett
Last weekend Julia and I (the brand new Community Outreach Interns for the Don’t Move Firewood Campaign) attended Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, an awesome environmental music festival. Neither of us had been to the festival before and had no idea what to expect. We set out Friday morning from Sheffield, Massachusetts and miraculously found our way there without a hitch despite our mutual ineptitude with directions. From there, the weekend was a total success. We were joined by two other Nature Conservancy employees based out of Albany and had a great time laughing at each other wearing the campaign’s Asian Longhorned Beetle costume.
It was exciting to see how many people really wanted to engage with us and learn about invasive species and forest health. It was also heartening to hear how much people already knew. Several Clearwater veterans came up to the booth to say they remembered the booth from a few years back and still had their beetle ID cards tucked into their wallets. Or that they love to camp, but have learned to buy their firewood where they want to burn it. Over two days of tabling we spoke with about 900 people and administered almost as many beetle themed temporary tattoos. Needless to say, we worked some long days, but hearing someone exclaim, “Wow I didn’t know that, I’ll definitely be more careful now!” or watching a kid jump up and down as they explained to a parent how invasive beetles spread made it incredibly fun and worthwhile. Often, these issues seem out of hand and unmanageable, but after a weekend of reaching out and talking to folks about simple ways to protect our trees, it seems more and more likely that we will actually be able to get a handle on the situation by implementing best practices.
This sense of hope and progress was compounded by the overall environment of Clearwater. We were just one of many groups tabling in the expansive “activist area” of the festival. In addition to this, Clearwater had a Green Living Expo set up and a zero waste policy. Everything from the plates to the forks to the straws we used were compostable and there was a person stationed at every waste disposal area to help people sort their trash correctly. For a festival attended by thousands, this kind of commitment to minimizing waste is commendable. I can’t help but lament a little that everywhere we set up a booth this summer will not be as conscientious and committed as Clearwater.
At the end of the weekend, we had given away hundreds of fun freebees, learned that prize wheels make people of all ages excited, and deduced that there is no situation that is not greatly enhanced by fresh lemonade and a potato pancake.