On Friday evening, dozens of booths, displays and activities all supporting environmental causes and programs lined Main Street. A variety of groups and individuals gathered for the 17th Annual Mayor’s Green Fair with the purpose of educating the Ann Arbor community about the importance of a “green” lifestyle and a healthy planet, as well as celebrating the city's own achievements in environmentalism.
The fair was divided into three sections, the first being the Environmental Leaders Area, where a variety of government and nonprofit organizations that have earned special designation from Washtenaw County for their efforts set up informational booths and exhibits. One such organization was the Bird Center of Washtenaw County.
Liam Pendleton, one of the volunteers from the Bird Center, emphasized its environmental importance.
“We’re a nonprofit mostly run by volunteers and interns," he said. "We take in smaller birds and we help nurse them back to health depending on what injury they have. It’s essentially a rehabilitation center — we keep them surviving.”
Another organization within the Environmental Leaders Area, the Ecology Center, offers outreach in the Ann Arbor community and beyond through hosting four different programs to educate citizens. These programs consist of Sustainable Food Systems, Energy and Climate Change, Safe and Healthy Materials and Recycling and Zero Waste. The Ecology Center also goes to different schools to teach young students about the importance of recycling and other environmentally-friendly activities.
The other two sections of the fair, called the Clean Energy Expo and the Green Commute Area, focused on energy-saving designs and ideas and innovative transportation systems, respectively.
Sean Reed, executive director of the Clean Energy Coalition and a representative from bike-sharing system ArborBike, expounded upon the roles of the Clean Energy Coalition in the fair and in Ann Arbor.
“The Clean Energy Coalition organizes a third of the Green Fair," Reed said. "It’s a nonprofit in Ann Arbor that started in 2005. We’ve done a ton of different projects, city-based programs, et cetera. We provide funding for a number of U-M initiatives as well — typically our role is to secure funds and partner with other entities.”
Fair participants and crowd-goers felt the event was important. Camille Hollins, a representative from the Ecology Center, expressed what she felt it meant for the community.
“I think it’s really important — it’s a good way for people to get informed about the green aspect of living,” she said.