Annual ecological festival at JJC is green and growing
By Jan Larsen For The Herald-News May 15, 2012 4:48PM
Sanctified Grumblers were one of the musical acts of GR2011. Music again will fill the air at a new location, Joliet Junior College, for GR2012. | Jan Larsen ~ For Sun-Times Media
At a glance
What: GR2012 Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: In and around the new “green” administration building at Joliet Junior College,
1215 Houbolt Road
Details: Admission is free; a grand picnic will follow from 5 to 7 p.m.
9: 30 a.m.: Dimonte Brothers
10: 15 a.m.: Doug Swenson
11 a.m.: Dog Patch Ramblers
Noon: Los Galleros
1: 15 p.m.: Nedra Johnson
2: 30 p.m.: Peter Mulvey
3: 45 p.m.: Edie Carey
5: 15 p.m.: Hoots and Hellmouth
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in JJC parking lots.
For information on what can or can’t be recycled, see www.celebratingsustainability.com.
Updated: June 17, 2012 8:03AM
JOLIET — What started as a tiny grass-roots ecology festival five years ago has grown like a weed with roots spreading throughout Will County.
GR2012 on Saturday at Joliet Junior College promises an exciting and jam-packed day of speakers, films, vendors, exhibits and entertainment capped off with the first “after-party” community picnic. It is the culmination of Earth Month in Will County, which started with an April 19 kickoff at JJC.
Other firsts this year: the new location; the opportunity for vendors to sell their products; and a gigantic “Recyclepalooza” that features expanded opportunities to recycle items like Styrofoam and candy wrappers.
The location has moved to Joliet Junior College as the festival outgrew its former stomping grounds of two years, the Black Road Branch of the Joliet Public Library.
The powerhouse behind this event continues to be its founder, Jeanne Phelan of Joliet, a longtime environmental activist and kind of modern-day Johnny Appleseed who plants seeds in people’s minds about sustainability.
Sustainability is a big word that means “how can we stop destroying our planet and start helping it so there will be something left for the generations to come.” That philosophy embraces urban farming, urban planning, alternative green energy, green construction, ways to reduce, recycle and
Interest in being green
Like most grass-roots efforts, it started small.
“The first year, 2008, we showed a film, ‘The Real Dirt of Farmer John,’ ” said Phelan, who tends a one-acre garden at the Codo acreage in Frankfort Township. “A few folks showed up. Next year, we had a speaker and 20 people showed up.”
GR2010 took a year to plan and the support of 10 local agencies, including the city of Joliet and Will County. Nearly 3,000 people came. GR2011 saw the numbers grow to nearly 4,000, mainly due to support from partners like the Forest Preserve District of Will County and the Joliet Public Library.
“We believe we can attract thousands of people to this year’s event,” said Maria Rafac, co-chairman of the sustainability committee at JJC and chairman of this year’s GR2012 event.
“This location takes our event up another notch,” said Phelan. “We can advance our message to a greater degree. More departments at JJC and faculty are becoming involved, like Auto Tech, which will showcase its green technology.”
Getting others on board
As in past years, fundraising fell on Phelan’s shoulders and she found sponsors to double the amount raised last year. She has also signed up 70 vendors.
One example of an exhibitor is this year’s GR2012 Sustainability award winner, Steve Tidwell and the Green Earth Institute of Naperville, a 60-acre organic vegetable farm.
Logistics for the event is Rafac’s bailiwick. An architect who teaches at JJC and homeschools her children, she has long embraced sustainability.
Phelan points out that tackling a sustainable lifestyle can overwhelm the basic consumer. “It really is a huge change,” she said.
“Sometimes people get overwhelmed by trying to go green,” she added. “It’s one step at a time, just like this festival. It’s a learning process. Years ago, I was told by an agency I approached ‘nobody goes to that kind of stuff.’ I said, ‘I think they will.’ I knew there had to be more people in this community who knew a little and wanted to learn more, people anxious to learn how to change their lifestyle and become greener.”