More than 300 students and community members registered to participate in the 2017 Green Festival on April 25 at the Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center at the Annandale Campus. The festival included panel discussions, an information fair, a screening of the film “A Plastic Ocean,” giveaways, a raffle for a kayak and a keynote address from National Geographic’s Sandra Postel.
The Green Festival takes place every year in an effort to celebrate Earth Day and inform the community about water issues and other environmental concerns. During his introduction, NOVA Sustainability Officer Rob Johnson said the purpose of the Green Festival is to highlight, educate and discuss the issues with the community.
Postel is an author and leading authority on international water issues. Her previous works include “Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?” and “Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity” along with more than 100 articles for scholarly publications. Postel also co-founded and contributes to National Geographic’s freshwater blog, “Water Currents.”
The subject of Postel’s address was “Water Connects Us All,” and she discussed water issues in the United States and around the world. Postel explained that it is up to the people to make a difference.
“All things are connected by water. The important thing to remember is our water story is still being written,” Postel said. “In my work, I focus on how we can change that narrative about water so it can have a more positive ending.”
Postel also gave examples of major rivers drying up such as the Colorado River, the Murray River in Australia and the Rio Grande River. She also mentioned the shrinking wetlands – including the Chesapeake Bay – which are affecting wildlife and fisheries. Postel said it is important for us to work with nature to build adaptability and resilience in an effort to resolve water issues.
“There are two things we need to do. The first thing is to figure out how to live happy, healthy, productive lives while shrinking our water footprint,” she said. “This is a personal and societal challenge. We need to conserve more water and pollute less on farms, in factories and at home. The second thing is to figure out how to return water to our environment and back into our rivers and get them healthy and flowing again. Working together, we can change the course of our water story.”
NOVA has celebrated nature and national parks for many years by partnering with Fairfax County for Arbor Day celebrations before creating the Green Festival four years ago. This year’s event would not be as successful without the contributions of the 50 student volunteers from the Parks and Recreation Program, Johnson, Campus Renovations Coordinator Cheryl Robinette, the committee of faculty and staff who helped plan and organize and other faculty and staff who helped throughout the event. For additional information about the Annual Green Festival, visit the event website.