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Can a Green Concert Venue Send a Message About Sustainable Summer Fests?

With a concept that fuses classic amphitheater architecture with Shigeru Ban, a group of students from Portland State University plan to construct an outdoor stage from used cardboard tubing this summer, one of a number of new initiatives being advanced by promoters to make shows more sustainable. The student project is part of a program that works with Pickathon, a weekend-long musical festival being held at a farm outside of Portland July 31 to August 2.

Last year, the concert upped its environmental commitment by commissioning and constructing the student-designed Treeline Stage from shipping pallets. The temporary venue helped the environmentally minded organizers, who already ban all forms of plastic and single-use cups, among other standard environmental sins of the summer concert circuit, create a more visible symbol of sustainability. Not only does the fest use reusable Klean Kanteen cups, even the bands play twice. The emphasis here is on temporary, as the tubes being used, 20-inch diameter cardboard rolls that store sheet steel for construction, will be put back into use after the show, leaving nothing but memories and inevitably, a stream of Instagram pics. As summer concert season begins, and the inevitable after shots of fields full of trash start popping up on social media, small projects like this may present an alternative to big-budget festival production.

A video about last year's sustainable stage construction at Pickathon.

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