University of Richmond students sprawled out on blankets on the Westhampton Green Wednesday night to support GreenUR’s outdoor screening of "Before the Flood."

GreenUR is Richmond’s sustainability board that advocates for environmentally-friendly practice both on and off campus. 

Wednesday’s documentary screening was part of their environmental awareness night, which featured free food and drinks catered by Ellwood Thompson’s and Ginger Juice, as well as mats and ENO hammocks provided by Outdoor Adventure and Recreation in the Weinstein Center. The film is a documentary that follows Leonardo DiCaprio around the world on his journey to learn more about climate change and how it can be prevented. The film was shown on a giant, inflatable screen from FunFlicks, an outdoor movie company.

Caroline Jones, WC '18, president of GreenUR, helped plan and promote the event by collaborating with another environmental group on campus, Greeks Going Green.

“Zach Snelling, who is a member of Greeks Going Green, came up with the idea for the event,” Jones said. “Greeks Going Green is a collaboration of different chapters on campus in the Greek community that come together to put on environmental initiatives on campus.”

The purpose of the event was to spread the word about climate change and inform people about what they can do to help the cause.

“A big focus of 'Before the Flood' is our own individual actions, how they all add up, affect our planet, and, as a consequence, affect climate change,” Jones said. “So we thought it’d be a great way to send a message to a community like Richmond.”

GreenUR is not funded by any organization, but they used donations they received from a yard sale that the university and the Virginia branch of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest and must influential environmental organization, put on in May in order to host the event.

“GreenUR wanted to put the funds towards a constructive purpose like this,” Snelling said. “We thought we’d have an environmental awareness night, have some food and screen 'Before the Flood.' People hear Leonardo DiCaprio and think, 'what’s a movie star doing in an environmental movie?' so it has a whole different crowd of people caring about it.”

GreenUR promoted the event by printing flyers, creating a Facebook page and sending out digital versions of the flyers to environmental studies and geography email lists. Greeks Going Green also helped promote the event by notifying Greek chapters on campus.

Andy Casemento, RC '19, heard about the event through his friends.

“A couple of my friends were going," Casemento said. "There are great vibes going on right now. This is probably the coolest thing I’ve done this year in terms of doing something different than normal.”

Britney Schuldt, WC '18, came to the event because she was able to tie the subject of the documentary and GreenUR’s initiatives to the subjects she is currently studying.

“I’m here because I am currently in a conservation biology class and also a consulting class where I picked the topic of sustainability,” Schuldt said. “And so it’s definitely a big interest of mine and I’m curious to see what the movie is about.”

The event also hosted representatives of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, who had a table set up to help promote their cause.

“We are working on calling for Governor McAuliffe to cut carbon pollution by 30% by 2030, so we are out here getting people to sign our petition for just that,” Kyle Hart, a representative for the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said. “We are also talking to people and trying to get them engaged in these issues.”

The screening of "Before the Flood" was a success, as it inspired attendees to work to promote sustainability and decrease their own carbon footprint.

“We definitely got inspired to be aware of light usage, because that’s a really easy thing to change,” Kana Rolett, WC '17, said. “All you have to do is turn off the light if you aren’t in a room.”

Santa Venkani, WC '17, also resonated with the message of the film.

“Just inspire and talk to people around you about doing little things like turning off lights and water,” Venkani said.

Contact contributor Devon Flinn at devon.flinn@richmond.edu.

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