Year One of F2F began with a seven-month planning period that began in September 2007 where partnerships were solidified, project activities outlined, a budget finalized and an evaluation plan drafted. All activities were overseen by the Feet to the Fire University Planning Committee made up of the provost, the academic deans, participating faculty, students, and community partners, such as the Jonah Center for Earth and Art and the Green Street Arts Center. This initial planning period was dedicated to planning the 18-month project that includes research opportunities for a team of students and faculty to explore first-hand the effects of global warming, fieldwork studies in art and science, performances, festivals, pedagogical exchanges in existing courses, commissioning of artists and convening of experts.
Feet to the Fire Festival
The first event to kick off the project was the Feet to the Fire Festival, which took place on May 10, 2008. For over seven months, a 32-member planning committee of campus and community members worked to plan the Festival. “All of us working on the Festival are united in the belief that the arts have the potential to help us see and understand the impact of climate change while at the same time assist us in envisioning a sustainable future,” Pamela Tatge, Director of the CFA, said.
The F2F Festival featured campus and regional artists who created installations and performances as a means to understand the impact of climate change and to imagine a sustainable future. The Festival featured a farmer’s market and interactive exhibits coordinated by the Jonah Center for Earth and Art that highlighted energy conservation, sustainability and resilient communities. The event also featured a sculpture garden, labyrinth, theater, dance, music, poetry, art and performances by Art Farm’s Circus for a Fragile Planet, Marion Belanger, Tom Callinan, Electric Junkyard Gamelan, Green Street Arts Center, Independent Day School, Kalimba Liberian Group, Geoff Kaufman, Jesse Karlsberg, The Middletuners, Mixashawn, Noah Baerman Trio, Oddfellows Playhouse, RJ and the On-the-Spot Jug Band, Susan Romano, Sirius Coyote, Toussaint Liberator, Wesleyan students and more.
The Festival was originally scheduled to be produced at Middletown’s landfill until The City of Middletown subsequently withdrew its permission due to safety concerns. The committee researched alternative locations and selected a new location at Veterans Park, a neglected city park within walking distance of campus. Over 2,000 people enjoyed more than 40 performances and visual art installations at the Festival, including two works commissioned for the Festival: Landfill, a photographic installation by Marion Belanger and Green Movement by Ann Carlson. Twenty environmental organizations and vendors participated, and over 100 volunteers worked at the event.