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Great Lakes Folk Festival goes Grassroots Green

Gary Morgan talks with Kirk Heinze on WJR

Written by: Emily Fox

The Great Lakes Folk Festival aims to get to the roots of society through culture and tradition, but who knew sustainability is interwoven into both of those concepts?

The director of the Michigan State University Museum, Gary Morgan, talks with Kirk Heinze about the social cultural dimensions of sustainability and the Great Lakes Folk Festival’s Grass Roots Green Program.

MSU Museum’s Great Lakes Folk Festival will be held August 13-15 in downtown East Lansing. More than 55 performances will take place with genres ranging from blues, bluegrass and Celtic music, to Hawaiian ukulele.

“It’s not just about the [musical] diversity,” Morgan says. “It’s also about coming in and appreciating not only the joy of the music, but also its heritage. We try to provide opportunities for people to learn more about the cultures from which the music emanates.”

New to the festival this year is the Grassroots Green program. Morgan says the program is meant to encourage people to think about sustainability.

“The notions of sustainability have very, very long traditions and a very long heritage,” Morgan says. “And a lot of the folk traditions of Michigan are all about that relationship with place and that relationship with an environment.”

The Grassroots Green program will show how American traditions exemplify sustainability. The Green Arts Marketplace will feature recycled items such as America’s long standing tradition of quilting. Quilting, Morgan says is about “reusing materials for expression.”

The festival will also feature a local and sustainable foods area, books and presentations with themes of sustainability and children’s activities that incorporate recycled and natural materials.

While the festival has a strong green theme, Morgan says the goal is not to convert people into environmental stewards.

“We’re not trying to preach. This isn’t about standing on a soap box and ramming something down people’s throats,” Morgan says. “What we’re doing is providing them with a really fun three days of activity that they can engage with at any level they want to.”

Morgan says that philosophy mirrors the role of the MSU Museum.

“Our fundamental role is to excite people about things. To get them engaged with issues. Make them want to find out more, and then allow them and empower them to make those discoveries in their own way,” Morgan says. “That’s informal learning, and that’s what museums are really all about.”

Click on the arrow above to hear Morgan’s August 6 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk HeinzeGreening of the Great Lakes airs every Friday evening at 7 on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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