East Fourth Street FAB! Festival promotes environmentalism
September 22, 2012
By Shannon Ayala
It wasn’t just the arts at the Fourth Arts Block (FAB!) Festival in the East Fourth Street Culture District (between 2nd Avenue and Bowery) on Saturday. Other than a diverse myriad of performances, art installations and culture initiatives, the street was littered, with environmentalism.
All along the lane there were environmental sites. There were bike groups, energy reduction and recycling education (and recycling itself), anti-fracking activists (or “fractivists”), a car rental business that said it was green, a Water-On-The-Go fountain (of the Environmental Department) and a food co-op’s bike-powered smoothie station.
Cycling was a motif. No one could enter or exit without passing NYC’s most notorious (if not only) bike advocacy organizations, Transportation Alternatives and Times Up! Environmental Organization, which were stationed at opposite ends.
Further, members of the East Fourth Street Food Co-op made smoothies via bike-power. A blender was attached to the back of a bicycle. No electricity was used. As the back wheel turned, explained Elissa Jiji of the co-op, a corresponding metal piece spun the blades of the blender. A couple dozen smoothies were made that day, Jiji estimated.
Also pervasive: there were recycling stations with recycling educators -GrowNYC and EcoBizNYC- all along the way. At one station, garbage was strewn –purposely- across a table so that people could test their skills at what to put in which container with friendly people to help.
Likewise, unwasteNY educated people on how to reduce energy and in turn save money.
EcoBizNYC had its own table as well. It’s part of the Lower East Side Ecology Center and helps local small businesses become more environmentally sustainable and reduce environmental impact.
There was an antifracking station. That movement has been particularly present at festivals in Lower Manhattan, raising consciousness on the NJ-NY Expansion Project, or “Spectra Pipeline,” which is being built off the coast of the Meatpacking District.
After passing the many bicycles at the Transportation Alternatives wing, one would see a car coated in writings from festivalgoers. Asked if the car was green also, a representative said that Zipcars, local rental vehicles, take seven cars off the road.
There was also a new, land-use coalition.
In an effort to prevent further -or more than wanted- gentrification, Made in Lower East Side is a coalition that formed only last May or June, said representative Eric Ho, at the group’s station. There are 212 vacant stores and lots in the neighborhood, according to its website.
There was a table with cards on it in which people had proposed ways they’d like to see vacant lots in their neighborhoods be used. People had written that they wanted to see theaters, street fairs, low-income housing and a children’s arts space.