Video contest aims to raise green awareness


University students have until Nov. 15 to enter to win $1,000 through submitting a video with an environmentally aware message to the Viral Green Video competition, a contest only open to college students.

“I want to harness [people’s] creativity and give them an outlet to use this to support a green message,” said Mary Reilly, creator of the Viral Green Video competition.

Reilly, who is a green consultant at Reilly Green Associates, began to spread her message of environmental awareness by giving free public presentations.

But she noticed attendees were already drinking from reusable water bottles and toting reusable shopping bags.

“I was preaching to the converted,” Reilly said.

Tasked with determining how to bridge the gap between the informed and the uninformed, she gathered donations from private citizens to launch the Viral Green Video competition.

The problem with informing the public about climate change, Reilly said, is that it not always welcomed information.

“You need this information, but it’s not what you want to hear,” she said.

The natural wish to make ideas about global warming go away is visible in some institutions putting out information to disregard climate change, Reilly said.

Students can choose to focus on doubts of the seriousness of the planet’s environmental imbalance in their video submission, according to the competition’s website.

“I am a true believer in mankind and womankind — that if enough people had enough information they would make the right decisions, and things would quickly change,” Reilly said.

Reilly said the competition could help ensure that future generations have the same opportunities the current generation has.

She cited the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and drought throughout the United States as examples of the negative environmental impact of humans on the planet.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area of the Pacific Ocean with a higher concentration of plastics than other parts of the ocean, which poses a danger to wildlife in the region, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The United States experienced the worst drought in five decades this summer, according to Reuters.

Students can also choose to focus on global climate change, water usage and needs, or waste as the subject of their video, according to the website.

The judges will award students up to a total of 50 points for picking one of the subjects, alluding to global climate change, citing facts, meeting the time limit and getting a message across in the video.

The amount of views the video receives from Nov. 15, to Jan. 15 determine the final 50 points. The submission closest to 100 points will win.

The video does not have to be a quality production, Reilly said, suggesting that some viral videos are poor in quality but have a message people want to see and share with others.

“It’s got to be funny, cute, sexy or just plain weird,” she said.

The environment a video enters also determines whether it will go viral, said Steven Miller, coordinator of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies.

Miller said there was a confluence of events that led to the newfound popularity of the video of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in which he classifies 47 percent of Americans as victims.

“You have to capture a video at the right place and the right time to get things going,” he said.

A green message is not going to make a video go viral, Reilly said, pointing out how there are many green videos that are documentaries.

Greenpeace, the Environmental Defense Fund and the clean-coal industry put out videos all the time, Miller said.

Reilly anticipates receiving eight submissions in this round of the competition and wants to see at least one of the videos get around 30,000 views.

She said she hopes to advertise for the third round of competition nationally.

Net Impact, a nonprofit membership organization focused on encouraging its members to make positive social impacts in their respective industries, will bring the winning video to the national stage, Reilly said.

Tamanna Mohapatra, events leaders at the New Jersey chapter of Net Impact, said she hopes at least one of the videos goes viral.

There is plenty of imagination out there to create the right video, Reilly said.

You have to have an audience that is ready, willing and waiting, Miller said.

“You have to have something that will capture people’s imaginations,” he said.


By Simon Galperin

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