As issues of serious concern to a number of Wesleyan students, environmentalism and feminism are no strangers to massive, campus-wide celebratory and informative events. However, this weekend the Mama Earth Ecofeminist Festival seems set to raise the bar for how students approach, discuss, and celebrate these topics.
Set to rock Wesleyan this Saturday, Mama Earth will begin at 1 p.m. in the WestCo Courtyard and will feature both native and external campus favorites such as Jackie Soro ’14, Lindsay Rose, Molly Balsam ’14 and the Kroox, Novelty Daughter, Swipe Right, and Hallelujah the Hills. Numerous other groups such as SHOFCO and E.O.N. will be participating, not to mention the various activities that will be featured, such as the Real Food Station, a make your own granola table, and a collaborative mural that will be painted on a wall built by two Middletown artists.
The festival is coordinated by juniors Kate Weiner and Lily Myers. Weiner, an anthropology and environmental studies double major, has been working on sustainability issues at Wesleyan for the greater part of her time here. Myers, on the other hand, is a sociology and Latin American studies double major who has been active with feminist issues on campus for the last three years, most notably through writing and slam poetry. Myers and Weiner sat down with The Argus to discuss the Mama Earth Ecofeminist Festival, which is meant to foster a space for creative expression and discussion.
The Argus: How would you summarize the mission of Mama Earth? In other words, what do you hope to do with the festival?
Kate Weiner: It’s an opportunity to display a lot of creative talent on campus and create a convivial and collaborative atmosphere, which I feel is very important, especially when we talk about feminist issues on campus. Many of them are contextualized as tragedies, and [while] there are a lot of really serious issues, I also think it’s important for us to recognize that women’s lives aren’t a tragedy and there’s a lot to be celebrated and a lot to be gained from joining together and enjoying what we can offer. Mama Earth is intended as a fun and explorative atmosphere.
Lily Myers: We really want it to be a space of celebration. We talk a lot about the idea of positive feminism. It’s working and fighting for equal rights, but it’s doing so in a way that lifts everybody up rather than taking anybody down.
A: So Mama Earth does not just focus on environmental issues, it also deals with feminism?
KW: Yeah, the idea being [that] eco-feminism posits that the treatment of the Earth and the treatment of women exist in a mutually reinforcing relationship, and the idea is to work to challenge a relationship that degrades both women and the environment and encourage a more beneficial and reciprocal interaction.
A: Would you say that they are treated the same in the sense that they are both treated as mere resources?
LM: As conquerable spaces. It’s hard to distill, but yeah.
A: A lot of people have very distorted views of both environmentalism and feminism, so what attitude would you want those not well-versed in them to have when coming to the event?
KW: I don’t want to say there’s one type of environmentalism or feminism you need to follow. For me when I think about my relationship with environmentalism, I like to imagine that one of the healthier ways to foster communities is to see yourself as part of a bigger ecosystem and not as a sole driving force and to recognize that, as much as you impact things, so do other natural phenomenon and events impact you. It’s important to recognize and appreciate that and be respectful of it.
LM: I also think it’s important that it isn’t a space of judgment. That is feedback I hear a lot when you’re fighting for your feminism or your environmentalism or for whatever [other] people don’t necessarily share, that [they] feel judged. It’s not that. It’s an open space that’s meant to be inclusive and where we can all share and learn from each other.