The environment got smoked by pollution last weekend (September 8-9).
No, we're not talking about the usual gridlock on the DVP, but on a large human chessboard at Toronto Island Park . Using cardboard Hummers and real bicycles as pawns, V Fest goers were treated to a game of Global Warming Chess , the ultimate battle between green and the forces of eco darkness.
Proceedings got off to a bad start. Some clued-out soul stole one of the cardboard SUVs, and organizers held up the action for an hour looking for a replacement.
Not surprisingly, the pollution pieces played dirty. "Who's afraid of the bag factor?" the human trash heap rook taunted a volunteer on a bike, who moved forward a space while dinging his bell menacingly.
"You've got nothing, solar! You're too expensive and too inefficient," shouted the king of the pollution side (an oil rig made of plastic tubing) to the solar panel bishop as he shuffled into place. A bike pawn booed the coal plant queen as she made her way to their side of the board. "You're disgusting," she barked.
"This is a platform to get people excited," said organizer Eric Ritz of Los Angeles-based enviro group Global Inheritance . But when curious indie rock patrons slowed down to see what the hubbub was about, there were confused looks and furrowed brows.
Max Topplin , playing an environmental scientist, noted that while he doesn't expect V Fest goers to immediately ditch their cars, he hopes people will "make small changes in their day-to-day life."
Sadly, back in the game, the enviro side's tree queen got captured by an opposing knight, a lobbyist for the coal industry. Soon, the giant lump of coal and its power plant queen ganged up on the 10-foot-tall wind turbine king, and the pollution team called checkmate. The oil rig cheered. Somewhere out there, Mother Earth shed a single tear.
Though the ecosystem lost the match, this was no metaphor for the future. "It's definitely in the balance right now," said volunteer Trent Hunter , one of the solar panels. "It could go either way, but I think we'll beat it."