Video by Aaron Mathey
By Kevin McCall
Arts & Features Writer
At Mullen Park in UNC Asheville, Hallowgreen brought together different sustainability groups on campus to raise awareness for environmentalism while also bringing fun during the spooky holiday season.
Co-director of the Student Environment Center Rachel Robinson said Hallowgreen served as a place for students to have spooky fun while also engaging with various forms of sustainability on campus.
“Sustainability is really important. There’s so much weight on our shoulders as far as climate change and all that’s going,” she said. “The more that we can do to get people excited about it and involved in it, I think the better.”
Some of the activities available for attendees included painting decals for windows designed to avoid bird collision, a haunted tour held at Roots Garden and pumpkin painting.
During the event, a shuttle would arrive at Mullen Park to pick up students and transport them to the Roots Garden. There, students went through a haunted tour of the garden before leaving with a goody bag full of candy.
For Gracie Dotson, another co-director of the Student Environmental Center, the tours helped spread awareness for the school’s gardens which the group helps maintain.
“That’s just sort of to get people out to our campus gardens that we run,” Dotson said. “Just sort of bringing a fun twist getting people on campus to go out there. We’re really hoping to start seeing more people at our workshops.”
For Hallowgreen, many of the sustainability groups on campus, such as Sunrise and UNCA Divest, held tabling events to promote sustainability while using the Halloween theme to advocate for eco-friendly policies.
“The lights are battery-powered. Also we’re having a costume contest and a clothing swap with recycled clothes. So trying to get people to reuse clothes rather than buying clothes first hand,” Robinson said.
Dostson said Hallowgreen also provided food sources for students, which were brought through the fair trade initiative.
“Our smores that we’re going to have at our fire-pit are all fair-trade chocolate, vegan marshmallows, vegan graham crackers,” Dotson said.
Dotson said the group wanted to bring together a project different from Greenfest, which could be easily digestible in one day, for students to become involved with the Student Environmental Center while also connecting with other sustainability groups partnered with SEC.
“I think all of us have really connected and worked well with each other and most of the tables here we’ve worked with before,” they said.
However, Robinson acknowledged planning for Hallowgreen could have begun earlier as preparation for the event started shortly after the Greenfest event held earlier in the semester.
“I think we could have started planning a little sooner,” she said. “Once Greenfest ended, we just started planning this immediately. So hopefully next year, we’ll be able to start planning ahead of time.”
For Lindsey Nystrom, admin liaison for UNCA Divest, an organization dedicated to lowering fossil fuel use on campus, Hallowgreen served as a gathering place to celebrate eco-friendly policies during the Halloween season and as a place for students to live up to the values of sustainability, equity and social justice.
“We are all an eco-friendly community, but I also think we have all of these different ways of being sustainable and that’s how we’re addressing it,” they said.
While Hallowgreen promoted sustainability awareness, Nystron said UNCA could do more to reflect the event’s eco-friendly policies.
According to a 2021 press release from UNCA, the school signed on to the Carbon Commitment, where the campus will dedicate itself to becoming more carbon-neutral within the next 30 years.
“I think we should divest the other 90% of our fossil fuel-based endowment. I think that we should change our carbon emissions,” they said. “So we’re signed on to the carbon commitment which means carbon neutrality by 2050. I think that we should work toward that more adamantly.”
Dotson acknowledges the school’s efforts toward substantial sustainability but said there can be room for improvement.
“I think just striving toward carbon zero is really what I want to see at UNCA pushing for in the future,” they said.
Even though the event used a Halloween theme, Dotson said Hallowgreen’s message is to remind students that sustainability plays a big part of everyday life outside of the holidays.
“You can make it sustainable, you can make it fair trade. You can sort of bring that work into every part of your life,” they said.
Despite being the first Hallowgreen on campus since 2017, Dotson said they are excited for next year’s event.
“I really want to see some prizes next year and some better involvement campus-wide,” they said.
While Robinson won’t be at UNCA next year, she said she is excited about how many students came out for this year’s Hallowgreen.
“With this sort of event, you never really know what the turn out is going to be, but there’s so many people here,” Robinson said. “It’s really warming my heart to see how our campus community is coming together.”
For Nystrom, Hallowgreen represents unity with the sense of community as well as a place of advocacy for sustainability in UNCA.
“I think the strengths lay in the fact we love each other, I think that we all support each other and recognize there are a lot of different ways to tackle climate change,” they said.