Solar Energy Society aims to educate through Earth Tones music festival


Earth Tones Music Festival is happening on Friday, April 20th at Duck Pond Field.

Natalie Broome, The Appalachian Weekly News Director

The Appalachian State University Solar Energy Society is hosting its seventh annual Earth Tones on Friday.

Designed to educate about sustainability, Earth Tones invites students and the public to enjoy live music and get to know some of the sustainable organizations around campus and in the community. The event is traditionally held in April because of its proximity to Earth Day.

All of the energy needed to power the event is generated by the Solar Energy Society’s Energy Trailer, nicknamed “E.T.” E.T. is made of a 1kW PV array (solar panel) and a battery bank mounted on a trailer. The energy generated powers all the amplifiers, electric guitars, electric basses, microphones and other instruments the bands and musicians need to perform.

E.T. makes more than enough energy to power the festival, and even has a converter that allows phones to be plugged in to charge.

During the year, E.T. is parked next to the steam plant and the ATMs on Rivers Street.

Solar Energy Society co-president Chris Lauer, junior sustainable technology major, has led the planning process for the festival and expects to see several local groups and artists perform, including Almost Madi, Lyre, Jacob Guden and Corporate Stepdads.

“The goal of the event is to educate the public about sustainability on campus and in the community by demonstrating various sustainable technologies and techniques in action, as well as giving an outlet for sustainable organizations to become better acquainted with the public,” Lauer said.

E.T. is not the only example of sustainable technology that will make an appearance at the festival.

A small wind turbine will also be set up for people to see. Professor Carla Ramsdell of the Department of Physics and Astronomy is going to bring her solar cookers and will be preparing food at the festival using solar thermal energy. The Office of Sustainability might also bring out their electric car.

This is the third year the festival will be held on Duck Pond Field. The event has grown in the past few years due to the number of sustainable groups the Solar Energy Society has invited to participate.

They also invited more local businesses than they did in the past in an effort to get people to buy more local products because buying local is better for the environment than purchasing something that was transported in a truck from outside the county, sophomore sustainable development major and club member Dan Mills said.

This year, the Solar Energy Society has partnered with several groups and organizations, including: The Renewable Energy Initiative, the Appalachian Geographical Society, the Blue Ridge Conservatory, the Renewable Energy Initiative, Village Vision, and the Wine to Water.

Dan Mills, sophomore sustainable technology major and Solar Energy Society secretary, said the event makes a difference by educating people while also having fun.

“Everyone out there is super passionate about what they do. And it’s really fun to just walk around and talk to them, and see what they enjoy about what they do. And you actually learn something from that,” Mills said.

While the event is supposed to be fun, the overall goal is to make a difference by educating people.

“It is meant to be an entertaining event, but it’s also very much meant to educate the people on campus about what they can do in their own lives. Whether it be changing votes or changing their lifestyle to be more conducive to sustainability as a whole, or looking at different ways that they can change either businesses in the future they’re going to be in, or communities that they live in. Changing the world around themselves to be more conducive to saving the environment,” Mills said.

The festival will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Duck Pond Field and is free to the public, but the Solar Energy Society will accept donations to help promote sustainability.

Story by: Natalie Broome, A&E Reporter

Photo courtesy of the Solar Energy Society