The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage celebrated its fiftieth annual Folklife Festival by showcasing the evolution of the American Circus arts. The festival took over a good portion of the National Mall from June 29th through July 9th. The festival is an important event for the Smithsonian as well as those who it represents. The success of this event is in large part due to the hundreds of staff and volunteers who dedicate their time and resources. The ASU Alumni chapter in DC invited the Capital Scholars to join them in volunteering at the festival this past weekend.
The majority of students arrived, after some metro drama, to the volunteer tent early Saturday morning to get our badges and our volunteer assignments. At the tent, we met with some new and familiar alumni. Once students had received their badges, we were led by a lead volunteer to a waste station. The lead volunteer went over what goes in each bin and how to advise the public as they came up to throw away their trash. Shortly after the overview, we split into small groups and set up our waste stations. It took some time for things to get going at the festival that morning, but we were eventually able to help visitors sort out their waste into the correct bins. Though our volunteer assignment was lacking excitement, we were able to educate while helping mitigate the environmental impact of the festival. A huge drawback to large gatherings is that they can have grave consequences on the surrounding environment. Concentrations of people come with concentrations of trash and making waste stations available, with options to recycle and compost in addition to collecting landfill, can help lessen the effects of crowds.
I discovered through our service activity that DC has “single stream” recycling. After some research, I found out that single stream recycling is when all recyclables are collected in one container; aluminum cans and paper products can be placed in the same bin for pick up by the municipality. Single stream recycling reduces the efforts necessary for citizens to responsibly discard their trash. The hope seems to be that more will be recycled if it’s less work. The single stream recycling efforts by the District extends to only residential collection. Those outside of that designation are required to separate their recyclables accordingly. It’s interesting to learn how DC functions since it sometimes can be so different from cities and states that I am familiar with.
Last week, I really began to notice that the summer went by quickly. In my last post, I expressed how the oncoming of graduate school was awakening and that definitely hasn’t faded. I’m now also feeling as if maybe I haven’t done enough with my summer here in DC. I’ve been to most museums more than once and seen all the monuments. I’ve gotten to eat some really good food and hang out at some cool places. I’ve also worked through almost an entire archaeological collection but the end seems like it is approaching too quickly. I want to work on networking more in my department in our short time left so that I can ensure these will be lasting connections. There are a few opportunities in the coming weeks at the Natural History Museum that I’m excited to participate in. I’m looking forward to an upcoming lecture on the NSF grant process. NSF grants are at the foundation of many anthropological graduate success stories. I hope to apply for one this coming cycle so I will be sure to take lots of notes. In addition to the NSF lecture, they are offering an event to learn about the hiring and contract process at the Natural History Museum. Both direct hiring and contract work at the Natural History Museum is quite complicated and this will surely help break down the process for my future use.