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The ELC to Celebrate Earth Day with Fiddles and Folklife

by Micah Wilkins, web editor

The Environmental Leadership Center is hosting a celebration and skills sharing event in honor of Earth Day, the first of its kind, to be held on campus on Saturday, April 22.

The Earth Day celebration, which will include workshops and demonstrations from different work crews and professors on campus, also coincides with Fiddles and Folklife, an annual old-time fiddle, banjo, folksong, and string band contest.

“What we will do at Warren Wilson, what we will have to offer will be different than what other earth day celebrations are,” said Phillip Gibson, the director of Community Outreach for the Environmental Leadership Center, who is organizing the event.

According to Gibson, this Earth Day event is meant to celebrate different knowledge and skills, and to share them with the community in order to lessen our environmental impact.

“It’s basically exemplifying or bringing forward the best practices that we’re doing on campus,” Gibson said.

The celebration will feature 22 workshops and presentations, from a vermi-composting demonstration to a campus bird walk to a writing advocacy workshop to a quest for morel mushrooms.

The event will surround the theme, “Sustaining our mountain culture and environment.”

According to Phil Jamison, preserving the culture and heritage of the region also plays into preserving the region itself.

“We talk a lot about sustainability,” Jamison said. “And I see culture as something that is threatened by mass-produced corporate music and consumerism, rather than homemade, indigenous music. There are issues of sustainability that can be applied to cultural sustainability. Indigenous music traditions are threatened, and celebrating them is a way to keep them alive.”

Jamison, along with Anthropology and Archaeology professor Dr. David Moore, began Fiddles and Folklife in 2001, which was originally a student’s idea. It began as a festival to celebrate Appalachian music and heritage, and in 2004, became a contest among musicians, and now folk singers as well.

“It’s a way to let musicians be heard,” Jamison said. “It’s a fun way to honor the people who are working hard at their craft.”

The Fiddles and Folklife contest happened to fall on Earth Day this year, and Gibson asked to team up with the musical event, to make the celebration even larger and more inclusive.

The idea to hold an Earth Day celebration on campus came from John Brock, the Interim Executive Director of the Environmental Leadership Center. Brock and Gibson together decided that the Wilson Earth Day should be different. Rather than hold an event with nonprofits tabling and distributing printed material, they decided “we should do what we do best, and share that with the community.”

“The major point is that it’s a great day for the community to share what they’ve learned,” Gibson said. “This community is such a wonderful community of people to work alongside of. I love holding them up into the light.”

View a complete list of the courses offered on Earth Day and register for presentations online

Register for courses as soon as possible, preferably before April 1.

Gibson is grateful that Warren Wilson can host a large, family-oriented celebration for Earth Day that is accessible to many. Most workshops, demonstrations, and presentations similar to the ones that will be held here usually come with a price, but most of the presentations here will either be free of charge, or will only have a small fee.

“I’m just so thankful that everybody is willing to do this, basically for free,” Gibson said. “It’s been very easy to pull this together. I’m just laying out a map, and everyone else is teaching the content.”


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