Following the right route

Sustainability festival to explore waste through an artistic scope

Nothing is more fashionable than being environmentally friendly! Silas Chipelski
Nothing is more fashionable than being environmentally friendly! Silas Chipelski

The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association knows how to throw a party.

Each year, the UWSA throws several massive week-long shindigs to ease students back into the daily grind of lectures and homework.

Both orientation weeks at the beginning of each of the terms bear the promise of great live music and the opportunity to drink on campus.

While the next event on the UWSA’s docket may not include a beer tent (oh, the humanity), it does allow students to be a little more creative and work the right side of their brain.

Grass Routes: A Sustainability Festival, which runs March 12 to March 16, is organized and run by the UWSA and the Campus Sustainability Office, and is in its sophomore year.

“It looks mostly at environmental themes, ranging from this year’s theme, which is disposability and convenience culture,” says Andrée Forest, environmental ethics director. “This year we wanted to have a theme and decide on a bunch of different ways to interact with that theme and to interact with different people, to hit a broad range.”

This year’s festival is quite a bit more specific, with the theme being explored with an artistic lens.

“I think nowadays when we think of waste it’s often thought of negatively. And in order to think of the system more as a circle or a cycle is to look at the ways in which waste is used that doesn’t necessarily make it waste anymore,” Forest says.

“So, looking at waste as art, and not necessarily just photos or images, but actually using waste materials to create art, is a cool way to show how waste can be used proactively, but also how much waste there is.

“It’s just playing with the theme in a way which is not aggressive, and a way that people can understand by their own analysis of whatever they are looking at.”

The schedule for the festival includes many arts-based events and workshops throughout the week, including an interactive waste art station, which will feature selections from waste bins on campus, as well as donated crafting goods.

Festival programs and posters feature the reclaimed bottle images of Mark Mizgala.

Mizgala is a Vancouver-based visual artist whose works are in collections around North America and Europe and have received many accolades.

Forest says the simplicity of the images works with the aesthetic that the festival is striving for.

Community members should also keep their eyes peeled for SEEDS, a multimedia message-delivering art project that was inspired by a gallery display Forest came upon in Vancouver a few years ago.

Another major creativity-based comment on convenience culture is the second annual Green Pieces Fashion Show, which will transform Riddell Hall into a catwalk on Wednesday, March 14 at 12:30 p.m.

“Green Pieces is an event where a dozen designers will create new clothing or wearable art out of repurposed materials,” says Katie Haig-Anderson, the UWSA’s vice-president internal. “This clothing will be worn by event participants.

“We are very consciously not using the word ‘models’ because we want to get away from the societal idea of what a model is.

“(The designers) will talk about the process of the creation of these garments and talk about how they’re environmentally sustainable.”

Grass Routes: A Sustainability Festival runs on campus from Monday, March 12 to Friday, March 16. Pick up a program from the UWSA office or check out for the full event listing with times.

Published in Volume 66, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 7, 2012)

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