Local climate organizations and businesses had booths lining downtown Main Street Friday afternoon as part of the A2ZERO Green Fair, which attracted Ann Arbor community members and University of Michigan students alike. The event concluded a week of technology and innovation-related activities in the city, known as a2TECH360, and offered participants the opportunity to test drive electric vehicles in the city’s Library Lane parking lot. According to the city’s website, the event was intended to educate people about how they can live more sustainably and help Ann Arbor meet their goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
In an interview with The Michigan at the event, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said he hoped the fair would help promote the city’s A2ZERO carbon neutrality plan among Ann Arbor residents.
“It’s my hope that people will leave the fair confident and excited about our A2ZERO plan,” Taylor said. “There will be residents who are excited to participate … and they’ll see nonprofit organizations who are excited to work together for the common good.”
Taylor said the Green Fair showcased a variety of organizations and companies working toward sustainability to help people incorporate environmentally-friendly practices into different aspects of their life.
“We’ve got the municipal organizations showing some of the work that we’re doing,” Taylor said. “We’ve also got vendors who are here to demonstrate products that they are promoting in order to help people reduce their carbon footprint. And we’ve got community organizations who are here to talk about the work they’re doing and to hopefully gather more members and support.”
LSA senior Emily Chang was at the fair representing Students for Clean Energy, an organization focused on researching and raising awareness about clean energy. In an interview with The Daily she said she hoped her organization’s table would help young people realize that they can have a positive impact on the environment by supporting sustainability initiatives on campus and across Ann Arbor.
“As students, even though we are taking classes, we’re still dedicated to combating the climate crisis and doing what we can to work with administration and the local Ann Arbor government to help mitigate the impacts on our community,” Chang said.
Engineering junior Katie Watson, who volunteered at the Students for Clean Energy table with Chang, noted the camaraderie and sense of community uniting all of the different organizations at the Green Fair.
“I’m surprised by how close knit the community is,” Watson said. “I’ve been talking to some people, and it seems like everyone knows everyone here, which is really cool. It’s very friendly and welcoming. It’s just nice to see how many people here are dedicated to the same thing.”
In addition to the booths up and down Main Street, an offshoot of the fair across from the Downtown Library featured electric vehicles and other forms of sustainable transportation. Several of them had their front hoods propped open to display the lack of a traditional motor underneath. Simi Barr, senior analyst for municipal operations in Ann Arbor, told The Daily he hoped the vehicle display would inspire more people to consider sustainable forms of transportation, including public transit and carpooling in addition to electric vehicles.
“In addition to transitioning some of our gas burning vehicles to electric, we also need to have more renewable energy powering those electric vehicles and also reduce the amount we travel in single occupancy vehicles,” Barr said. “We also have The Ride out here today to push people towards more sustainable modes of transportation.”
Meanwhile, the Leslie Science and Nature Center’s booth displayed a live salamander and turtle in separate enclosures for fair attendees to look at. Luke Jacobs, a Leslie Science Center employee, told The Daily the science center wanted to demonstrate how animals can be used to educate the community about the importance of preserving wildlife.
“(The animals are here) mainly just to show about the plethora of ways that people can learn about nature and about different species of animals,” Jacobs said. “Whether that be through the live specimens or natural specimens.”
LSA senior Olivia Prodin and LSA junior Alena Fritch helped staff a table for the Washtenaw Climate Reality Project, though they also had the opportunity to check out the rest of the Green Fair after their shift. Prodin said she enjoyed meeting so many people who were passionate about sustainability and learning about new organizations in the community.
“I feel like people have come up to us,” Prodin said. “We’ve been walking around, and we’ve just learned so much about organizations and companies that we had no idea existed in the community, which is really cool. It’s really interesting. I wish there were more students here … but it’s cool to see everyone that showed up.”
Fritch said she enjoyed visiting booths from other climate-related organizations in the area. She said it helped bring the sustainability community in Ann Arbor a little bit closer.
“I really like that it’s kind of like a whole community,” Fritch said. “There’s so many climate and environmental organizations here. I didn’t know that we had this many.”
Daily Staff Reporter Abigail VanderMolen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.