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DePaul, Columbia co-host Climate Festival through October

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Throughout the month of October, DePaul University and Columbia College are hosting a series of events focusing on climate change, called the Chicago Climate Festival. These events work to showcase environmental concerns through art forms such as rap, photography and literature.

Last Wednesday, the local chapter of the group 350.org hosted “Raptivate,” an event intended to explain divestment and its importance in today’s world through both a lecture and an open-mic session.

The Chicago chapter of this organization was created in 2013 by Melissa Brice, and it has been growing ever since.

(Graphic by Katie Tamosiunas)

(Graphic by Katie Tamosiunas)

350.org is an organization dedicated to lowering of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million, the equivalent of climate safety in today’s world. There are groups located in every country in the world, with the exception of North Korea. Its current focus is on divestment, which Brice explained as the “extraction of money out of stocks and bonds and putting it somewhere else.” The goal is to reduce the money invested in fossil fuels and place them in more useful areas.

The carbon bubble, or the value of companies’ dependency on fossil fuels, is currently standing at $22 trillion. This number is even larger than the housing bubble faced in the housing market crash during the early 2010s.

Chicago350 is currently working to meet with the aldermen of Chicago districts to file resolutions that will encourage more divestment. Their ultimate goal is to amend the municipal code.

An active divestment campaign is present on both Loyola and Northwestern campuses, but DePaul, which did have divestment companies in the past, does not currently participate in this movement.

Brice addressed this lack of presence at DePaul in her lecture. “It would be more influential if (the divestment effort) was a student-run campaign,” Brice said.

Continuing rises in carbon dioxide “risk catastrophe for all life on Earth,” and can specifically lead to hotter summers, heavier downpours and excessive run-offs from Lake Michigan in the Chicago area alone, Brice warned. She made it clear that more must be done in order to help save our environment.

The lecture turned into art when Joey “FineRhyme” jumped onstage to demonstrate his freestyle skills. A proclaimed “raptivist,” Joey aims to “help harmonize a world through music.”

Audience members were asked to shout out words relating to the climate change

crisis, and Joey was able to freestyle a rap outlining why people should contribute to the divestment process.

“Yes, yes, yes, ya’ll: it’s time to divest DePaul” repeated on a loop as the backdrop for Joey’s rap. “We’ve talked a lot about what the problem is, but we need action,” he added, stressing the importance of the need for a movement at DePaul as well as across the nation.

After Joey shared more influential raps, the microphone was open to anyone in the crowd. A large group of people took control of the mic, some reading short stories or poems commenting on the current environmental problems. Three of DePaul’s own performed stories such as “Sandhill Cranes: the Lover,” “Portal in the Overlap” and a performance on a djembe, an African drum.

Jillian Grace, the performer of “Portal in the Overlap,” is a senior at DePaul with a love of both the environment and art and a participant in the Urban Farming Organization. She thinks DePaul students should “follow their hearts” in order to pick a cause that they are passionate about and help the environment in their own individualized way.

Brian Saboriendo, a physics major at DePaul University, thought the presentation was very helpful to students and stressed the significance of the change that’s needed, both on and off campus. He also noted how the rapper, FineRhymes was able to get his message across very clearly through music.

“They should have more assemblies of the rapper,” Saboriendo said. “People will listen to that a lot more than any lecture.”

Maddy Auby, a health science major, also agreed that the use of rap helped to convey Chicago350’s message.

“It made people pay attention because people don’t want to listen to (statistics). It gets you excited and hyped up to save the world,” said Auby. “There’s a lot of money in politics, and if companies are uninvesting in fossil fuels, then the power gets taken away from the fossil fuel companies. That’s how you change the game, through money.”

There are still more events available this month to attend relating to the climate change crisis. Throughout the entire month of October, DePaul will host pop-ups displaying Alisa Singer’s artwork, known as “Environmental Graphiti.”

The next event, “Another Storm is Coming,” is a presentation of Judy Natal’s photographs, along with two movies sponsored by the Center for Energy and Environment Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University. The photographs catalogue extreme weather occurring alongside the Gulf Coast. This event will take place on Oct. 11 from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. at McGowan South, Room 108.

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DePaul, Columbia co-host Climate Festival through October