SEED Honors Former Student With Day

Elise Foley

By Elise Foley The Daily Northwestern

Students and community members came to the Lakefill on Sunday to celebrate bluegrass, Earth Day and the late Phillip Semmer.

Four bands played at this year’s Philfest, an annual event hosted by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development. About 200 people were watching at any given time, with audience members coming and going throughout the five-hour concert.

The concert was first organized in 2001 in honor of Semmer, a SEED member who died in a car accident while traveling in Australia in 2000.

“The event embodies all the things that Phil was into, like Frisbees and geckos and bluegrass music,” SEED co-chairwoman Rachel Patten said. “Even though we didn’t know Phil, it’s important to do this in memory of him.”

The concert also provides an opportunity for SEED to raise money for the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based charity where Semmer had hoped to work.

The $600 to $800 raised in the concert each year goes to supporting an intern for the non-profit group, said Patten, a SESP junior.

“It’s an important way to provide a fun thing for people on campus and spread awareness about Earth Day,” Patten said.

The event is part of a larger effort by SEED to raise awareness about environmental issues, Patten said. The Green Cup, a SEED event that asks dorms and residential colleges to compete to conserve energy, ends today.

“We are really just educating people about the earth and what we can do,” Patten said.

The concert featured Northwestern student bands Fire in Town and The Monocles. Two professional groups – Big Sky Stringband and Trampled by Turtles – also performed.

“We try to look for bands locally and try to find bands that are more well-known – although I still haven’t heard of (Big Sky Stringband or Trampled by Turtles),” said SEED member Phil Dziedzic, a McCormick freshman.

Philfest was held outside this year for the first time in four years, Patten said. Attendees could purchase flying discs for a dollar or sit on the grass and listen to the music.

Deerfield resident Tina Furlett came to the concert with her husband and her son, who she said is a bluegrass fan. The two-year-old danced near the stage as several NU students held his hands and lifted him up.

“He’s having a good time,” Furlett said. “He likes the music and the college girls.”

Weinberg senior Brian Secemsky said he left a practice Medical College Admissions Test at the library and heard music. He said he had been at the concert for hours.

“I love it,” Secemsky said. “It’s a side of Northwestern that more people should see. I’ve been here four years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Communication senior Matt Wool said he wished events like Philfest were more common.

“People never go outside and dance together,” Wool said. “I don’t really listen to stuff like this at home, but this is great. It’s the perfect atmosphere for something like this.”

Reach Elise Foley at [email protected]