While Earth Day is traditionally celebrated on one day of the year, Western students are eager to expand the celebration across a week with an array of events and activities.
“This year we wanted to focus on diversity in the environmental movement and celebrating that and trying to increase the diversity in the people coming to the Environmental Center events,” said AS Environmental Center Coordinator Monica Tonty.
Starting off Earth Week is the Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 19 from 12 - 5 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center Plaza from 12 - 5 p.m. Regional artists Juniper Stills, Well Wishers and Buyani Nguni will perform and free food will be catered by the Students for Sustainable Food from 12 - 3 p.m. The club has been planning the menu since last quarter with the theme “global food made locally.”
You can also take a walk in the Sehome Hill Arboretum and enjoy nature while bird watching. There will also be opportunities to square dance and do yoga.
“I’m most excited for the festival. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Last year there was a lot of dancing,” Tonty said.
Along with the celebration, there will be information about environmental issues and volunteer opportunities. At 2 p.m. Tara Villalba from the organization Community to Community will speak about how food consumption has environmental impacts, the way the American food system is structured and how corporate control of food is endangering communities and health. C2C is a women-led grassroots organization that encourages making positive changes to make communities more sustainable. While the festival is free, donations will be accepted to benefit C2C.
On April 21, the Students for Sustainable Water will be celebrating the official ban of bottled water bottles on campus in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room from 5 - 6 p.m.
“For the last three years, our club has been working on getting the sales of bottled water off of campus,” said President of Students for Sustainable Water Michelle Danney.
The club was first able to create an initiative on the spring ballot in 2012 that passed with a 74 percent vote. The following year, they looked for campus-wide support to get faculty and staff on board by meeting with the faculty senate and talking with deans throughout the university to ask them to consider adopting a pledge and to take action to make their area more bottled water free. Huxley, Fairhaven and the AS adopted a policy to go bottled water free.
“We’ve been working really hard on a committee to make this implementation actually happen and successfully got put in place on April 1,” Dannehy said. “This event that we’re having is to celebrate that victory and to thank all of the people who supported us along the way.”
April 22 will feature a workshop led by another local environmental organization called Canopy Collective in Viking Union 464 from 4 - 6:30 p.m. They will be speaking on “Building an Eco Feminist World.” The workshop will introduce the concept of eco-feminism as well as strategies for building up for local social justice work. A limited number of spots are available for this event, so if you’re interested in attending, RSVP by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another event to take part in is one of the green campus tours presented by the Office of Sustainability on Tuesday and Thursdays. They will be showing examples of sustainability across campus from 12 - 1 p.m. starting in the VU sixth floor lobby. Most of the highlights of the tour will come from projects supported by the green energy fee.
On April 23 from 6 - 8 p.m, students can attend the Roots-Campfire, a bonfire meant to bring students and professors together.
“It’s hard for students to talk casually with their professors. So it’s an opportunity for them to hang out and mingle,” said Tonty. “We invited all of the faculty to share what inspires them to be part of environmentalism and how they got started. Last year it was a lot of fun. It was probably one of the most inspirational events that I’ve gone to.”
The final event will be co-sponsored by the Ethnic Student Center on April 24 from 5 - 7 p.m. titled, “Changing agri[CULTURE].” This will be a discussion-based event led by local food activists. It will address food deserts - places generally in low-income communities lacking access to healthy, organic foods. The event will conclude in the Outback Farm to make cob-oven pizzas and engage in planting activities.