UC Davis is front and center this week and next in Washington, D.C., for the Smithsonian Institution’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the federal law that created land-grant universities.
Five professors are participating, and three of them — while in Washington — are giving talks outside the Smithsonian festival, to alumni and legislators and others, on African-American folk art and civil rights, the history of rock ’n’ roll and the science of beer.
At the festival, UCD is showcasing some of its many endeavors to develop a more sustainable world: turning textile waste into reusable bags, and turning the campus’ olives into fine oils and beauty products.
UCD is one of 28 participating universities — and the only UC — in this year’s festival.
“This is a good time to boost our visibility in the nation’s capital, at the Smithsonian festival and beyond,” said professor Pat Turner, vice provost of undergraduate studies, who led the organizing for this outreach effort in D.C.
On the eve of the festival’s opening, Turner, a folklorist, addressed “Crafting Change: African American Folk Artists and the Civil Rights Movement” on Tuesday. Turner, a professor of African and African American studies, and American studies, delivered the talk at the Library of Congress.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter represented the university at Wednesday’s opening of the 46th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. It runs today through Sunday, and then July 4-8 on the National Mall.
All but one of the festivals so far has had multiple themes — for 2012, they include Campus and Community, celebrating two 150-year milestones: the Morrill Act that created the nation’s land-grant universities, such as UC, and the establishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Campus and Community exhibition area is laid out like a college, with a commons and more than two dozen “buildings” (tents), grouped in four areas: Building on Tradition, Reinventing Agriculture, Transforming Communities and Sustainable Solutions.
UC Davis, which could have fit in any of these groups, is in Sustainable Solutions, where the campus is showcasing Bags Across the Globe, or BAG, and the Olive Center.
Through BAG, design professor Ann Savageau promotes the crafting of reusable bags from textile waste, thereby saving resources and cutting down on the use of plastic bags and the environmental damage they cause.
Last year, she curated a Design Museum exhibition with a tornado as the centerpiece — a tornado made from more than 1,000 plastic bags, the number that an average California couple uses in a year.
In UCD’s festival tent on the National Mall, Savageau presents a 6-foot-diameter globe of the world — made from blue, green and brown plastic bags. She stuck some of the bags into the wire framing to get the continents started, and invites festivalgoers to add the rest.
Festivalgoers also can sit down at sewing machines to make their own reusable bags. And two design students, Carol Shu and Helen Trejo, are showing their work in sustainable fashions.
The other half of the tent showcases the university’s work in turning the campus’ dangerous mess of olives into a clean and tasty business — one that led to the establishment of the Olive Center, with research and education programs.
It all started with the campus’ hundreds of olive trees, dropping their fruit on paths all over the campus, creating slippery danger for bicyclists and a mess for groundskeepers. Sal Genito, who ran the ground division at the time, asked: Why not harvest the olives to make oil?
And so began the UC Davis Olive Oil brand, in extra-virgin blends with such names as Gunrock and Silo.
Then, in 2008, came the Olive Center, which now boasts more than 30 affiliates — including faculty members, extension specialists and farm advisers — with expertise in such areas as production and processing; sustainability; sensory analysis; nutrition and public health; and economics, finance and marketing.
Festival exhibitors are not allowed to give out food samples or offer tastings — so UC Davis is simulating the olive oil sensory experience by infusing various oil aromas into wax.
For children, the Olive Center has set out salad spinners to show the process of oil extraction from olive paste (using foam balls and pretend oil).
Elsewhere at the festival, Turner will give two talks in the commons: “Classrooms of the Future” (today) and “First-Time Students in the Family” (July 4) — as she was the first in her family to go to college. And Dan Flynn, the Olive Center’s executive director, is giving several talks in the Campus and Community test kitchen.
In addition, three UCD professors are giving mini-lectures at Smithsonian U:
* Charlie Bamforth, food science and technology, “The Beauty, Bounty and Benefits of Beer.” Bamforth holds the Anheuser-Busch Professorship in Malting and Brewing Science.
* Chris Reynolds, music, “How Songs Find Their Meanings: Que Sera, Sera.” Reynolds chairs the music department.
* Diane Ullman, entomology, “Art Science Fusion.” Ullman, an associate dean in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is co-founder and director of the Art-Science Fusion Program.
Reynolds and Bamforth also are giving lectures away from the festival.
Reynolds, who teaches the popular Music 106 class about rock ’n’ roll, will address the “The History of Rock ’n’ Roll” today at the UC Washington Center; while Bamforth will talk about “The Science of Beer Making,” Tuesday, July 3, at an establishment called RFD (Regional Food and Drink).
— UC Davis News Service