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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

The hippies were right

As many of you may have noticed, this weekend marked the 39th annual Whole Earth Festival at the UC Davis campus. For some university students, Whole Earth Festival might only translate to dealing with the mass migration of semi-nude hippies onto the campus Quad, or avoiding the multitude of vendors trying to exchange hand-made dream catchers and hemp bracelets for the gas money needed to reach their next scheduled gathering.

However, those students who made a true effort to involve themselves in last weekend’s festivities, along with the more than 400 student volunteers, will know that this year’s Whole Earth Festival carried with it a strong message of sustainability and environmental preservation.

This year’s theme of “Mending Our Web” illustrates the festival’s aim of raising awareness about the impact that humankind has on this world, as well as encouraging behavior that will help preserve our environment. Many people would argue that this year’s Whole Earth Festival provided nothing new to the UC Davis campus, and that global preservation has always been the aim of such “hippie festivals.” While it is true that communities commonly labeled as “hippies” have constantly emphasized topics such as sustainability and preservation, this year’s festival marks the beginning of a time when such goals are shared by university and government administrators as well.

Recently, the UC Regents have put into place the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Initiative, which, according to the initiative’s proposal, will aim to “inspire the university community to embark on additional actions to be leaders for sustainability in higher education.”

On the UC Davis campus, the initiative has resulted in the foundation of a new office within the Office of Resource Management and Planning that will work with other UC Davis departments and help them accomplish the goals set out by the sustainability initiative. The office will also give input on future architectural, engineering and maintenance projects on the UC Davis campus to ensure that the sustainability goals are being met.

The sustainability goals of the UC’s Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Initiative have been shared by this campus’ Whole Earth Festival for almost four decades, and it’s a wonder that it took the university administration so long to catch up. Honestly, if a traveling band of hippies and a couple hundred college students can put together a three-day festival in which 93 percent of waste is recyclable or compostable, why can’t the university’s top engineers dedicate themselves to researching forms of alternative energy?

If you ask me, these hippies have been on the right track for a long time, and unfortunately it has taken the threat of drastic climate change and possible extinction for the rest of the country to realize it. Despite the fact that they can sometimes smell, get naked or even try to sell you a wide variety of things you neither want nor need, we should all give these hippies a break. After all, they’re trying to save the planet, man.


JAMES NOONAN is cool with sustainability, but he really hates dream catchers and tie-dye t-shirts. Let him know what you like at jjnoonan@ucdavis.edu.


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