Students and faculty are always eager to participate in the Stony Brook tradition of Earthstock. But many are unaware of the history of this event that led it to become a red-hot tradition.
Earthstock officially began in April 2000 and was founded by a small group of passionate and enthusiastic students who were part of the Environmental Club at the time, according to Jeff Barnett, Administrative Co-Chair of Earthstock.
These students strived to inform others about environmental sustainability and global warming. When Earthstock first began, it was a small event, which included a few tables displaying educational literature.
This event continued to grow and was soon taken on by the President’s office, Barnett said. This initiative provided the funding needed to turn Earthstock into a large campus festival.
“In 2007, the Office of the Dean of Students assumed responsibility and Earthstock has grown even further to become an award winning, week-long series of events featuring over 30 educational programs, while continuing to grow the signature event, the Friday Earthstock festival,” Barnett said.
A variety of programs are offered throughout the week including film screenings, a farmer’s market, lectures from distinguished speakers, panel presentations, a great debate, four music concerts and two student research exhibitions.
Earthstock is recognized as an outstanding program by the State University of New York (SUNY) and Long Island Council of Student Personnel Administration (LICSPA).
This event has also been featured in regional media such as Newsday and the Herald Times, according to the Stony Brook Earthstock website.
But these awards and recognitions would not have been possible without the amount of time and effort that goes into the planning for this event from both faculty and students.
According to Professor Malcolm J. Bowman, Academic Co-Chair of this event, the Earthstock committee starts the preparations sometime in the beginning of January.
“We are big on trying to articulate what we are doing as a university in a display format,” James T. O’Connor, representative of the Office of Sustainability, said, when asked about the preparations for Earthstock, “so that when students, faculty and staff visit our tables, they can take a look at a board really quickly and see what we are doing in the Office of Sustainability. This is a challenge that involves many people to work on.”
According to Jeff Barnett, throughout the years that Earthstock has taken place, one of the most significant events has been a panel discussion. This discussion featured and honored four Stony Brook faculty members who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. These faculty members received the opportunity to serve on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
One of these members, Minghua Zhang, currently serves as the Dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric sciences.
In 2009, Stony Brook University’s first vegetable oil-powered bus received a name after Earthstock’s “Name this Bus” contest.
O’Connor said he felt that this contest was one of the most significant events in the history of Earthstock and said that they chose a winner by picking a name out of a hat. After receiving 535 entries, the name that was chosen was “The Kernel.”
As for the future of Earthstock, Barnett said that corporate sponsorship of this event has grown and there is always a chance to land a major level gift or sponsorship.This kind of opportunity would turn Earthstock into a major weekend festival that would draw people from all around the Tri-State area.
“I could envision, connected to this, a major outdoor concert,” Barnett said.
When Professor Malcolm J. Bowman was asked what he sees in the future of Earthstock he said, “We want to keep developing the serious side to Earthstock—how best to care for and preserve Mother Earth!”
He also explained that he would like to see more departments, students and faculty involved in strengthening the week-long program of Earthstock.