3rd Interdependence Day Saturday to highlight climate change fight

  • Deborah Watrous, left, and Molly Scott lead a contingent representing the element of air during the “World We Love” parade and performance celebrating “Interdependence Day” in Northampton in July 2017. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 7/4/2018 10:33:43 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Giant puppets and brightly colored activists will flood the streets of downtown Northampton Saturday for the third annual Interdependence Day, where participants will celebrate the city’s commitment to fighting climate change from 1-4 p.m.

The parade will use art, music and puppets to spread awareness of and fight against climate change. The event was originally conceived by the environmental group Climate Action Now and Beth Fairservis, the artistic director of the MuZen Theater, a collaboration between Fairservis and her husband Stephen Katz.

Fairservis said the parade is an opportunity to celebrate the commitment Northampton has made to reducing its carbon footprint and using renewable energy.

“We will be presenting a certificate of appreciation to Mayor David Narkewicz and the city of Northampton for their commitment to fight against climate change,” she said.

Northampton has undertaken a number of environmental initiatives, including building solar panels on public buildings and its landfill, committing to using 100 percent renewable energy, and creating a bike-sharing system that launched late last month.

Fairservis has more than a decade of experience organizing giant puppet parades. She designs and builds most of the puppets that have appeared in the parade over the past two years.

Before Fairservis created MuZen Theater with her husband, she worked with Pachamama Puppets, which also used giant puppets in activism. Fairservis also organized the Mother’s Day Parade in Northampton, which she ran for five years and included some of the same giant puppets that will appear in this year’s parade.

Some of those puppets include an 8-foot-tall elephant, a 12-foot-tall burning man and a 14-foot-long dragon.

“We had to max out at 12 feet so they would fit under the power lines,” Fairservis said.

The past two parades, which were also about climate change, drew between 100 and 200 people. She said the event is “starting to build” as more people become aware of it and the number of participants grow.

Participants in the parade will march from four locations, and approach Pulaski Park on Main Street from every direction. Every direction — north, south, east and west — is associated with an element. People approaching from the north will wear white or green to symbolize Earth, while those approaching from the east will wear yellow to signify the sky. Participants coming from the west will wear blue to signify water, and those from the south will dress in red to signify fire.

The elements have significance when talking about climate change, Fairservis said, noting that fire represents humans’ reliance on and need for energy, no matter the destructive cost.

“Humans are the fire keepers. Our excessive use of fire has created an imbalance with the other elements and with all life on earth,” Fairservis said.

Along with wearing the color to match their element, Fairservis said that people wear festive hats, capes and masks, wield staffs and carry stuffed animals and puppets of their own.

Once the marchers reach Pulaski Park, Fairservis will lead the group in laying flowers and meditating as well as engaging in theatrical performances.

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