Stemmen op protestborden op het Radboud Impact festival
Stemmen op protestborden op het Radboud Impact festival

Radboud Impact Festival gives visitors a story to tell

Getting concern for a more sustainable world into the heads and hearts of students. This is the stakes of the annual Radboud Impact Festival, this year on Tuesday 4 June. 'So this is what a fish experiences when a container ship passes by. Not fun at all!'

For the third year in a row, Radboud Green Office is drawing attention to sustainability, getting bigger and, above all, more creative. ‘The idea is not that people behind a stand are going to tell the public what to do,’ says organiser Thijmen Sietsma. ‘The idea is that they make contact with the public, that they set something in motion.’

And it is happening. An installation by artist Zeno van den Broek has been set up in the corner of the festival site in front of the Erasmus building to let people experience what fish feel when a cargo ship passes by. For this, vibrations and sounds have been collected in the Waal near Nijmegen, which the audience can experience by standing on a vibrating plate while headphones transmit the sounds. ‘This infernal noise is kind of sad for the fish,’ says a communication studies student. ‘This already vibrates with me through my whole body, it won't be fun for a fish at all.’ The student has a story to take home. ‘I've never thought about it like that before.’

Also at the stall of the Museum of Edible Earth, one of the students speaks of a ‘real eye-opener’. At the stand, dozens of types of stone and raw materials are displayed in small trays that the public can taste. A surprising menu, with hundreds of variations worldwide, in the Netherlands, for example, the marl in South Limburg. ‘There are more ways to get food than I already thought,’ said a literature student. Stallholder Sydney Kamer agrees: possibly such pebbles might one day be served as snacks at get-togethers, he says, but the museum's idea extends further. ‘To make people realise that you can also look at food differently.’ 

‘Pollution is a crime’

One of the visitors, who already has experience with circular construction, shrugs at the stand about putting houses together using earth resources, with walls made of compost, for example. ‘Then when you move, you can give your house back to nature,’ he reads at the stand. ‘This does get me thinking about what circular building can essentially mean.’ Again elsewhere on the site, two political science students cannot stop talking about a protest sign made by creative people to communicate sustainable messages in an intrusive way.

The sign stand is by Utrecht-based Studio Tegenwind, which has commissioned posters for nine research areas touching on sustainability. Visitors themselves can add signs and vote for the most impactful messages. A poster on holding corporate CEOs accountable for the company's environmental damage attracted many votes, sparking conversation from the two political science students. ‘But then maybe you should also be able to criminalise shareholders.’ They agree on one thing: ‘Pollution is a crime, you should be able to tackle that better.’ 

Nitrogen in action

Lectures are there as well, in a temporary ‘room’ in a kind of ‘pipowagen’ in the corner of the grounds. One of the lecturers is ecophilosopher Gerard Kuperus, who, after a short talk on ‘integral ecology’ (say: everything in nature is connected to everything else), invites his listeners for a walk to the insect hotel on campus. Each is asked to look for something in the vicinity, which leads to a pebble, a wad of paper rubbish, and a number of plastic toy bucket balls apparently shot here. ‘Those are not gone from the environment in a thousand years,’ the group discusses the collected items.

Among the audience is a philosophy teacher, who picked up a blade of grass. ‘It looks very green here and it is, but the biodiversity is poor, whereas that was the purpose of this grove.’ The blade of grass represents the overgrowth by the various grasses. ‘It is far too fertile here,’ reads the analysis. 'Here you see what nitrogen does to the environment. If you do nothing, all you'll be left with here is this kind of grass.'

Make an impact yourself? Check out the Green Office's page on what you can do.




Contact information

greenoffice [at] (greenoffice[at]ru[dot]nl) 

Organizational unit
Radboud Green office