Iowa City Climate Fest 2020 offers green activities, projects over 5 days next week
Activist Greta Thunberg speaks during the strike for a "Town-Gown Climate Accord" hosted by the Iowa City Climate Strikers, Oct. 4, 2019. Iowa City Press-Citizen
Over the course of seven days, the city of Iowa City will be sharing some simple tricks on how to save the world.
"My understanding is the idea originated with former Mayor Throgmorton," said Sarah Gardner, a climate action engagement specialist with the city of Iowa City. "The climate action commission was very excited about the idea; it was included with the climate action plan."
Iowa City's first Climate Fest is scheduled to begin Saturday and run through the following Saturday, Sept. 26. Each day offers a different activity for Iowa City-area individuals to participate in the interest of cleaner living.
As with most other events in 2020, this inaugural Climate Fest was originally intended to be an in-person event. While there are a few activities that can be attended in person, nearly everything in the line up can be enjoyed online, too.
This includes event organizers encouraging those participating in the event to tag social media posts with #IowaCityTakesAction. The hashtag will make it easier to integrate the anecdotes and images posted in the festivals Climate Fest Story Challenge.
"(The hashtag) was really important to us for safety reasons," Gardner said. "(Though we're digital,) it should still feel like a festival; it should still feel like something people can participate in."
Monday: 'Celebrate better transportation options'
As the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted, a number of hobbies have gained popularity. Among them is biking.
Bike sales have gone up as people look for regular outdoor activities. If that surge in interest holds true for Iowa City residents, several of those not working from home may already have a bike they wouldn't otherwise possess. This Monday, that bike might be used for some required commutes.
Iowa City Climate Fest has provided a link to a "Commute Cost Calculator" to help residents determine how much they spend each month driving their particular cars to work. Those who tinker with the numbers can get an idea of how much they might save using alternate means of transportation even a few days a month.
At 5 p.m. Monday, a ribbon-cutting for a new electric vehicle charging station in the Tower Place Parking Ramp, at 1 S. Gilbert St., will be digitally broadcast.
The broadcast will be followed by an electric car show on Linn Street, which won't be closed off, as originally planned, but instead feature cars will be parked along Linn Street so that Iowa City citizens can walk, bike or drive past to view the vehicles.
Tuesday: 'Taco 'bout a sustainable lifestyle'
Tuesdays (in this reporter's opinion) are objectively the worst day of the week. The karmic counterpoint to Tuesdays are tacos, which are (in this reporter's opinion) the best food.
To sweeten the karmic pot, climate fest organizers have supplied three vegetarian taco recipes for foodies to implement. Even participants who aren't vegetarians can make use of the recipes, as there's a considerable level of health benefits and is also eco friendly because of the resources and emissions created in maintaining livestock for food.
Later in the day, FilmScene will host a screening of "The Biggest Little Farm" online. The recent documentary follows a couple on the west coast attempting to cultivate 200 acres of farmland, sustainably.
Following the screening, there will be a Zoom discussion at 8:30 p.m. with members of the Climate Action Division. Though the link to view the video will be active for 24 hours starting at 7 a.m. that morning, those who hope to tune in for the Zoom panel are encouraged to watch the film at about 7 p.m.
Wednesday: 'Better buildings build a better future'
Iowa City has already felt the creeping chill of the coming autumn. Fittingly, as this event is scheduled for the second day of fall, the focus is on weatherizing your home.
The city's website points to sources that a weatherized home could save homeowners upwards of $80 a year, as properly weatherized homes tend to use less power to stay at a comfortable temperature.
The list of activities includes adding weather strips to doors and windows, replacing furnace filters and changing ceiling fans to rotate clockwise in order to help push warm air down.
Thursday: 'Reduce, reuse, recycle — and repair'
Recycling can be a complicated business. Where to recycle what items and which things can be placed in what bins can occasionally take some time to wrap your head around.
To help in that effort, the city is offering a DIY Home Recycling Audit for people to use to check their recycling for commonly misplaced items.
Furthermore, a map of local repair resources is being provided as well as resources for a Fix-It Fair, which offers instructions on how to better repair or repurpose common household items instead of throwing them out.
"It covers everything from minor electronic repairs to bikes — it's really cool," Gardner said of the resources provided. "There are tips in there, like if your glasses are scratched up on the inside — I actually shined up all my drinkware (using those tips) in about an hour."
Friday: 'Adaptation takes all of us working together'
Climate Fest will be acknowledging a handful of Iowa City businesses with the first annual Climate Action at Work Awards. Five awards will correspond with five categories in the Iowa City Climate Action Plan: buildings, transportations, waste reduction, sustainable lifestyle and adaptation.
Videos profiling the award winners will be uploaded along with write-ups of the businesses on the Climate Fest website at noon.
Finally, there's going to be a bike tour of the Sycamore Greenspace Trail — starting at 3571 Sycamore St. — at 6 p.m. Though the tour had originally been intended to be guided, the area's COVID-19 numbers led event planners to make the tour self-guided.
"There’s a really awesome interactive 'story map' on the Climate Fest website that allows folks to take that self-guided tour at home or to use as a guide when they head out to the trail themselves," Gardner explained.
Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet
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