Newark, NJ-From Thursday, October 11 to Sunday, October 14, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation hosted its 14th biennial poetry festival in Newark's Downtown Arts District. For four days, downtown Newark was transform into the largest poetry village in North America, featuring over 100 poetry events, dozens of food vendors, and thousands of visitors.
This year the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation merged poetry and an interactive sustainability experience at the festival. They partnered with Clean Water Fund, a statewide and national environmental non-profit organization, to minimize the festival's environmental impacts through waste reduction and reuse techniques.
"Clean Water Fund is proud to work with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to set the standard for waste reduction at festivals and look forward to increasing these efforts in the City of Newark over the next few years," said Amy Goldsmith, State Director, Clean Water Fund. "We strive to help communities minimize waste and maximize recycling and reuse and this festival will set a gold standard for doing just that."
Working in partnership with the City of Newark and the NJ Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Clean Water Fund assembled a dynamic "Green Team" of trained volunteers and staff that worked at five different resource collection stations throughout the NJPAC plaza area.
"We are thrilled to have great partners like Clean Water Fund helping us to make the Dodge Poetry Festival a model demonstration of waste reduction and to advance Newark's sustainability goals", said Margaret Waldock, Environment Program Director, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Green Team volunteers taught festival-goers how to place used materials from the festival in the correct receptacles for recycling, composting and trash. NICO restaurant and other food vendors were also part of this process-using plates, flatware, etc. that are compostable and cups that are recyclable.
"Overall, our goal is to educate festival-goers on sustainability and to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills and the Newark incinerator," said Kim Gaddy, Project Coordinator, Clean Water Fund. "The Newark incinerator is a huge source of air pollutants-dirtier than coal per kilowatt and linked to climate change and health disorders such as asthma and cancer."
Each resource collection station contained five different bins for waste generated at the festival including recyclables, compostables, liquids, and "trash":
Clean Water Fund's Green Team ensured each bin was sorted properly - ensuring the largely incinerator-bound trash had little more than plastic wrappers, bags, and juice boxes. Volunteers also weighed the materials and prepared them for pick-up and reuse.
"Our efforts will help us better understand how much waste versus resource is generated at this event," said Goldsmith. "We will be able to assess how we can reduce the amount of waste produced even further and create types of new local businesses and jobs needed to move the City of Newark closer towards achieving its "zero waste" goals, much like Austin, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon are beginning to undertake."
Clean Water Fund was excited to be on hand to promote environmental awareness at the Dodge Poetry Festival, but its sustainable mission doesn't stop there. The organization is working with the City of Newark on its soon-to-be-released Sustainability Action Plan, as well as food waste pilot programs in Newark Public Schools and Beth Israel Hospital and home composting initiatives.
"We helped to minimize environmental impact at one of the largest poetry festivals in North America," said Jenny Vickers, Communications Coordinator, Clean Water Fund. "We're proud to make a lasting impact on the community that spans well beyond the festival and look forward to working with the City of Newark to further achieve its sustainability goals."About Clean Water Fund
Clean Water Fund (CWF) is a grantee of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Clean Water Fund's mission is to develop strong grassroots environmental leadership and to bring together diverse constituencies to work cooperatively for changes that improve their lives, focused on health, consumer, environmental and community problems. Clean Water Fund helps people campaign for cleaner and safer water, cleaner air, environmental justice, protection from toxic pollution in our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces, and emerging green economy and jobs. Since 1982, CWF has operated locally staffed programs (from offices in Belmar, Montclair, and Newark), CWF collaborates closely with the New Jersey Environmental Federation, an organization of 100 member groups, 150,000 individual members, and 75,000 email action subscribers. www.cleanwaterfund.org/nj
About Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was established in 1974 through the foresight and generosity of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, daughter of William and Almira Rockefeller. For nearly 40 years, Dodge has supported leadership, collaboration and innovation, with a focus on addressing the issues most pressing to New Jersey. Dodge also offers a comprehensive technical assistance program geared towards strengthening the capacity of New Jersey's nonprofit community.