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Build a Birdhouse, Save The Planet

Flutter by different booths on Elmwood Avenue sidewalks during the inaugural Flutterby Festival. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)
Francesca Bond
August 8, 2019

Newell Nussbaumer is doing his part.

For the past year, Nussbaumer (who runs the blog Buffalo Rising) has contacted “every single eco-organization” he could think of and walked into every business on Elmwood Avenue between the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Summer Street, for one goal: to save the planet.

Nussbaumer convinced the organizations and businesses to hop on board his sustainability festival, Flutterby, and eliminate their plastic straws. The inaugural festival is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 10 along Elmwood Avenue.

“I’m using all the relationships that I’ve ever formed in Buffalo,” Nussbaumer said on the phone, right before heading to Tyler Griffis’ studio to help him finish his sculpture of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.” It will be installed on Elmwood Avenue for the festival, for public art and to be used as a selfie station.

Flutterby refers to festivalgoers’ ability to flutter between stores (on the sidewalk) without interrupting traffic. The street will remain open, with pop-up tents, buskers and artists, informational booths and activities for children, along the sidewalks, for people to flutter by. Organizers are calling it “Buffalo’s strolling eco-festival,” where the goal is to engage the community with vendors and beer, but also information about climate change and pollution, and the effects climate change has on our environment, animal kingdom and health.

The festival, Nussbaumer said, was “born out of frustration.”

“We’re all reading every day about all the things that are happening on this planet,” Nussbaumer said. “When are we going to start paying attention to what we’re doing?”

Flutterby, with a specialty craft beer brewed with locally sourced honey, selfie stations, mealworm burgers and vendors, is a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. The medicine, of course, is the information. It’s a festival heavy with both fun and education, but the message is a relatively dire one.

“You’re seeing species disappearing at rapid rates. You’re seeing plants, animals, insects, you know, all being eradicated from the face of the planet, every day now, and nobody really understands the implications,” Nussbaumer said. “[I’m] just hoping that we still have time to make some of these changes.”

Nussbaumer’s eventual goal is to turn Buffalo into an eco-corridor. He believes that cities should lead the way in sustainability efforts, and even become sanctuaries for wildlife someday.

What to expect at Flutterby

Participating stores: The list of participating restaurants and storefronts in the Elmwood Village is a long one — Nussbaumer got pretty much every business on board — and for the festival, they will educate consumers about their eco-friendly practices, whether it’s in the products they carry, recycling or take-out packaging. For a list of participating businesses and more information about their sustainability practices.

Pop-up vendors: Sustainable vendors will sell eco-friendly goods in pop-up tents. Non-profits and community organizations will share information about how to get more involved and reduce your carbon footprint.

For a few examples, the Cosmic Wanderer Collective will post up at Breezy Burrito Co., drawing henna tattoos and placing biodegradable hair shimmers and strands into festivalgoers’ hair.

Purchase environmentally conscious beauty products from small businesses at the Traveling Beauty Bar, which travels around peddling the products of small, vegan or sustainable brands.

The Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens will have a few activities for children including leaf-rubbing coloring.

Solar Liberty will answer questions about switching over to solar panels.

The Tool Library, an organization where members can borrow tools when they need them and attend DIY workshops, will lead a demonstration.

Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm will hand out native monarch larvae to people who have organic milkweed plants.

Let’s Goat Buffalo will provide information on “goatscaping,” a sort of natural landscaping service by goats, which The News’ Sandra Tan wrote about in June.