By Shawna Leader

Concerts, clubs, vendors and workshops will appear this week to celebrate Earth Day. Although the actual Earth Day is Saturday, April 22, the AS Resource and Outreach Programs Environmental Center has planned an entire week of events, according to Kayla Henson, co-coordinator of the Environmental Center.
On Monday, the Brave New Voices Green team will perform spoken word poetry with an environmental theme. These Bay Area college-age poets will focus on interacting with the earth and protecting it, Henson said. In a collaboration with Youth Speaks, actor Robert Redford’s Sundance Preserve has sponsored these slam poets in the past.
On Tuesday, a mushroom workshop will be put on by Cascadia Mushrooms from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Outback Garden. Attendees will have the option of purchasing a mushroom log in order to grow them in their homes, Henson said.
Also on Tuesday, a workshop titled “Women, Herbs and Reproductive Health” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Fairhaven Auditorium. Leslie Williams is a local herbalist who specializes in herbs that enhance reproductive health for women. Williams graduated from Western with a degree in herbs and somatics. She currently dispenses her herbal advice at Holistic Care at Wildroot Botanicals, located in Bellingham. The workshop will focuses on treatments such as herbal teas, Henson said.
On Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m.  an Uprising Seeds presentation will be held in Viking Union 565. Information will be given about native seeds, with the possibility of a seed swap, Henson said.
“[It’s] a presentation on the seed industry, genetic diversity of our food crops, GMOs, open-pollinated heirloom seed varieties and the future of our food system,” said Matia Jones, AS Outback coordinator. “ The speakers have a business propagating, saving, and distributing food seeds.”
On Friday, a “dance party for the earth” will take place in the Underground Coffeehouse.  At 8 p.m. local funk band Vaughn Kreestoe will play a two-hour set.
All these events lead up to Saturday, when clubs, vendors and community organizations will gather on the Communications lawn from noon to 7 p.m.
“We’ll have badminton set up and Frisbees so people can kind of frolic on the grass and interact with the people tabling and the vendors and listen to music all at the same time,” Henson said.
Spoonshine, Acorn Project, Sweet Beets and Petunia and the Vipers will play from noon to 6 p.m., with speakers in between. A special concert held by AS Pop Music will take place afterward. There will also be face painting and screen printing on shirts (people can bring their own shirts or use one provided by The Hempest), Henson said.
Henson also emphasized how important the event is for networking and spreading information.
“It’s free and it’s fun and there’s lots of things to do. But at the same time there’s lots to learn,” she said. “I think that the networking that happens during events like this is really important to find out what’s going on in the community, what kind of groups are already there that you can get involved in. You can go there and see such a variety of organizations.”
The Resident Resource Awareness Program (ResRAP) will be there recruiting EcoReps for next year, Office of Sustainability Coordinator Seth Vidãna said. Also, the Sustainable Food Systems Coordinator will be there sharing information about what a sustainable food system at Western might look like, he said.
“We’re just trying to get the word out about those two programs,” Vidãna said.
In addition to providing information about recycling, the AS Recycle Center will be hosting barrel racing on the lawn.  Attending the event is an excellent way to learn why others have devoted themselves to preserve the environment or reduce waste, AS Recycle Center Educator Sally McLaughlin said.
“The AS Recycle Center depends on Western’s community to know what is and is not recyclable, as our student laborers spend their hours sorting the trash out of our blue barrels,” McLaughlin said.  “Getting to know those involved provides a great motivation for people to do the right thing and sort their recycling from the trash.”
Alternative Transportation Coordinator A.J. Garcia will be there, giving out information about the bus system, biking in Bellingham and bus passes. The Earth Day celebration is an opportunity to learn about activities and organizations on and off campus concerning sustainability, he said.
“Western’s known for being really environmentally conscious and for being a leader in environmental issues and sustainability issues,” Garcia said.  “There are a lot of organizations on campus and off campus in the Bellingham community that are really working to improve our environment that you may not know of.”
Even if you are not interested in alternative transportation, it is likely that an environmental group that does interest you will be there, he said.
Although Earth Day is an excellent networking opportunity, it also presents a slight disadvantage because it takes place so late in the school year, Garcia said. If a student finds a club or organization they want to get involved with and this is their last year, they don’t have very much time, he said.
Garcia suggested an increased environmental presence at the Info Fair or even a separate environmental info fair in order to get students informed and involved earlier in the year. This “would allow students to connect early on and make the most of their opportunities at Western,” he said.
For a full list of Earth Day events, please visit www.as.wwu.edu.