Tag: Earth Day

Sustainability is personal: Let’s all embrace 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Kelsey McCormick, Lawrence’s sustainability coordinator, poses for a photo overlooking the SLUG garden. To honor Earth Day, Lawrence’s Sustainability Steering Committee will host a live documentary screening of Once Was Water at 6 p.m. CDT April 22. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

By Kelsey McCormick / Sustainability Coordinator

When I was young, my siblings and I spent many weekend mornings on walks or bike rides with our dad. I assume it was to get us out of the house and burn off energy. I never would have guessed that years later I would be able to so clearly remember Dad picking up a leaf or a pine cone and telling us which tree it came from. I would be awestruck. He taught me that each tree had its own identity and purpose. There was something I deeply respected about that.

Wednesday (April 22) is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day marks the birth of the modern environmental movement and is usually a day for people to gather together to show appreciation for the planet and demand that we treat it with care. As I was lamenting the loss of our on-campus Earth Day celebration, I asked myself, “How can I take advantage of this opportunity and encourage Lawrentians to celebrate Earth Day at home?” Then I thought, maybe celebrating Earth Day at home was meant to be.

Sustainability conferences often begin with the same ice-breaker question. “How did you become interested in sustainability?” Many responses follow a similar theme to mine. Summers in a little fishing boat with Grandpa, helping Mom plant the backyard garden, late nights catching fireflies with neighborhood friends. Maybe it’s corny, but many of us seem to have strong emotional connections to the natural spaces where we live or have created fond memories. Sustainability is local. Sustainability is personal. 

This made me perk up. Even though we cannot celebrate together, maybe we can still celebrate Earth Day in a way that is personal and meaningful to each of us.

In a nod to Earth Day, we also share this video that showcases the Fox River and trails near the Lawrence campus:

If you aren’t sure where to start, here are seven ways that you can celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day from wherever you call home. 

1. Participate in a remote Earth Day documentary screening with the LU community

With assistance from Bullfrog Films, Lawrence’s Sustainability Steering Committee will be hosting a live documentary screening of Once was Water at 6 p.m. CDT on April 22. Tune in to watch the film along with the committee members and fellow Lawrentians. A live chat feature will be available during the film. The film will be available for 24 hours after the initial screening for those who are unable to watch at that time. We hope the film will inspire and spark conversation about resource use in your own community. The link to the screening is here:  https://streaming.bullfrogcommunities.com/sustainable_lawrence_once_was_water. The video password is 0wW2!21U

(Here’s a message from Bullfrog Films: To watch the film, viewers must sign up with email (and sign in) or just sign in with Facebook or Twitter to access the screening room, and then enter the video password. If signing up with email, we recommend that viewers do this in advance of the screening. See our How To for details. We also recommend copying and pasting the password. We will open the screening room 30 minutes before screen time so viewers can chat.)

2. Follow Lawrence’s green-living guidelines at home

Many of the credits in the Green Room Certification from Lawrence’s Office of Residential Education and Housing can be applied at home. See how many of these green-living strategies you can add to your regular routine. Bonus points if you can get your family members or roommates to play along. Access to the Green Room Certification is here (a Lawrence login is required to access the link).

3. Refine your SLUG skills in a backyard garden

The produce grown in SLUG is sold to Bon Appetit to be served in Andrew Commons. If you can’t tinker in the campus garden, try growing your own fruits or veggies and serving them in your own meals. If you don’t have a yard, that’s OK. Tomatoes, sweet peppers, spinach, lettuce, and many others will do well in pots on a balcony or patio. 

4. Become an ally for pollinators

Pollinators play an especially important role in welcoming spring. Did you know 90% of flowering plants depend on pollinators to reproduce? Lawrence is recognized as a Bee Campus USA and demonstrates its commitment to bees and pollinators by including native plantings and “bee hotels” on campus. You can create your own little refuge for bees by planting native flowering plants at home. No yard space necessary. Try installing a window box and enjoy the buzz of activity you will see outside.

5. Pick up one of Lawrence’s sustainability must-reads

Read what the faculty in this year’s Sustainability Institute are reading. Try Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World by Marcia Bjornerud, the Walter Schober Professor of Environmental Sciences and professor of geology at Lawrence. Or check out The Two-Mile Time Machine by Richard Alley. Interested in trying a thought-provoking novel? The Overstory by Richard Powers will spark conversation. Looking for something more philosophical? A Sand County Almanac details Aldo Leopold’s observations and feelings regarding wildlife conservation based on his personal restoration project in southwest Wisconsin.

6. Support your local economy 

Many of the small businesses that make your community special are likely closed or operating in limited capacities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Support those businesses by placing carry-out orders or purchasing gift cards to use later. Non-financial options of support include leaving a positive review online or sharing their business page on social media.

7. Reduce personal waste

Be conscious of product packaging and be aware of single-use items. Have you ever noticed that many of the items in your trash or recycling bin are just the containers your items came in? Take a peek. … Both bar soap and shampoo bars can be found in simple cardboard packaging as opposed to plastic. Consider investing in reusable snack bags as opposed to the single-use film ones. Some of these options may even save you money in the long run.

Kelsey McCormick is a project specialist/sustainability coordinator on the president’s staff at Lawrence University.

It’s personal: Earth Day activities raise awareness across campus

An aerial view of the Lawrence campus shows the sustainable gardens.
The Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG) are part of the Lawrence campus. The SLUG student organization will take part in Earth Day activities between now and Tuesday.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Earth Day 2019 arrives on Monday, but Lawrence University students and staff aren’t waiting until then to celebrate the wonders of the Earth and highlight the need for good environmental stewardship.

Lawrence student groups focused on environmental causes, along with the school’s Sustainability Steering Committee, will mark Earth Day with a series of events now through Tuesday.

Highlighting the Earth Day celebration will be a gala from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday on Main Hall green, featuring live music, Frisbee games, plant sales and various student-run booths raising money and sharing information on a variety of environmental issues.

Then on Tuesday, Equal Justice Works Fellow Jacklyn Bryan will present “Water and Wisconsin Tribal Communities: Past, Present and Future” at 7:30 p.m. in Steitz Hall. A member of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of Owens Valley in California and a 2017 Vermont Law School graduate, Bryan will discuss her work to assist in statewide collaborations to assess and address outside risks to clean water on tribal lands.

Sunday’s gala is being organized by the Lawrence student group Greenfire, in cooperation with other student organizations and the Sustainability Committee.

“All of it will have some sort of relation to sustainability, environmental practices and just getting people outside,” said Alyssa Ayen ’19, co-president of Greenfire, a student environmental group with roots dating back to the early 1990s.

Like many of those involved, Ayen’s interest in environmental advocacy is personal. The environmental science major from Madison watched as urban sprawl began to erode wetlands in her grandparents’ neighborhood in Verona, her favorite childhood hangout.

Wall along Drew Street is painted for Earth Week.
Earth Week signage is courtesy of Greenfire.

“I would spend all of my time outside as a child, playing games, going on hikes and bike rides,” she said. “I enjoyed my childhood so much. But as I got older, I started realizing more and more that Madison, like so many cities, has urban sprawl. There is a ton of development, and I saw it near my grandparents’ house. I think I was probably 13 at the time and I realized it really bothered me a lot.

“I developed almost a relationship with the beings that lived there, the different animals that interacted there, that I saw on a daily basis. It was really hard for me to see that habitat diminished, and I think that’s really where it started for me. I knew I had to go out and make my career about it because it mattered to me so much, to at least be part of a change in mindset that has to happen in order for us to limit more environmental degradation.”

Ayen, who will go to work for the nonprofit advocacy group Impact following graduation, said Greenfire students are focused mostly on environmental justice issues and environmental education.

Eight students from Greenfire attended the Wild Things Conference in Chicago earlier this year, taking in a range of sessions on environmental concerns and initiatives, mostly focused on the Midwest.

“It was a really good learning opportunity,” Ayen said of the biennial conference. “There were a lot of nonprofits there, and organizations such as Sierra Club that are involved in environmental policy.”

Earth Day provides an opportunity to raise the visibility of some of those efforts here on campus.

“The Sustainability Committee really pushed for a bigger Earth Day event, and Greenfire wanted to go that way too,” Ayen said.

Kelsey McCormick, a project specialist at Lawrence and co-chair of the Sustainability Steering Committee, said there was a concerted effort to better organize Earth Day activities this year and set a framework for future endeavors.

Eight Lawrence University students from Greenfire pose for a photo at the Wild Things Conference in Chicago earlier this year.
Lawrence University students from Greenfire took part in the Wild Things Conference in Chicago.

The committee set out to make sure there was at least one significant activity a day in the lead-up to Earth Day.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the number of student organizations that have decided to put on events and take advantage of the hype that Earth Week has kind of created,” McCormick said. “We had hoped to get one big event each day. Now on some days we have multiple events because those student groups have decided to put things on on their own. And that’s wonderful. That’s what we really want Earth Day to be about, for as many groups as possible to show their commitment to the environment through what they’re doing.”

The events in the coming days include:

7 p.m. Wednesday: Showing of “Awake — A Dream from Standing Rock,” a documentary, in the Warch Campus Center Cinema.

7:30 p.m. Thursday: Sustainability Bingo, hosted by SOUP, in Mead Witter in the Warch Campus Center.

4:30 p.m. Friday: Plant Identification, hosted by the Bird and Nature Club, in Briggs greenhouse.

9 p.m. Friday: Sustainable Menstruation Ball, co-hosted by the Outdoor Recreation Club (ORC) and Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG), at Pullmans Restaurant, 619 Olde Oneida St., Appleton. Shuttle pickup from Wriston every 15 minutes from 9 p.m. to midnight.

3-5 p.m. Saturday: DIY Natural Self Care Products, hosted by Greenfire in the loft at Colman Hall.

1-4 p.m. Sunday: Earth Day Gala, Main Hall green. Rain location will be Esch Hurvis in Warch Campus Center.

6:30 p.m. Tuesday: ENSTfest, an Environmental Studies poster session, Steitz atrium.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday: Jacklyn Bryan presentation on “Water and Wisconsin Tribal Communities: Past, Present and Future,” Steitz Hall 102.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Earth Day Presentation Features Native American Author, Environmentalist Winona LaDuke

Native American author and environmental activist Winona LaDuke explores how connections to the land can help move societies and economies forward to a better environmental future in a Lawrence University Earth Week presentation.  LaDuke’s address, Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. in Youngchild Hall 121, is free and open to the public.

Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke

A  member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations in Northern Minnesota, LaDuke has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues, including 2011’s “The Militarization of Indian Country,” “Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming” and “All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life.”

LaDuke is the co-founder of Honor the Earth, a Native American-led organization that seeks to break the geographic and political isolation of Native communities and increase financial resources for organizing and change.

Time Magazine named LaDuke one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under the age of 40 in 1994 and Ms. Magazine honored her as its 1998 “Woman of the Year” for her work with Honor the Earth.

A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, LaDuke served as Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate on the Green Party ticket in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections.

Her appearance is sponsored by the student organization Greenfire and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Let the Sun Shine: Lawrence University Commemorates Earth Day with Solar Panel Installation

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and in conjunction with its two-year Green Roots initiative, Lawrence University is installing the campus’ first solar panel on the roof of Youngchild Hall. The multi-day installation is expected to be completed on Earth Day, April 22.

The 2.92 kilowatt (kW) unit, composed of 14 panels each roughly 3’ x 6’ — the size of a typical residential unit — is expected to generate approximately 3,700 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year.

“As our first venture, we purposefully started with a small-scale operation so that we can assess if it makes sense to invest more heavily in solar power in the future,” said Jeff Clark, associate professor of geology and faculty associate to the president for the Green Roots initiative. “The electricity generated by this unit will be used to offset a small portion of our usage load rather than being sold back to the utility.”

In addition to reducing the campus’ monthly electric bill, the panel will serve a curricular purpose as well. Data from the solar collector will be live streamed over the Internet and be used in as many as Lawrence three courses, including an introductory environmental science course, the physics course “Energy Society and Environment” and the chemistry course “The Energy Conundrum.”

“Although the direct impact on our carbon footprint will be small, the educational value and the potential to learn more about the feasibility of additional installations on campus will be invaluable,” said Clark.

The panel installation is due in large part to the efforts of freshmen Will Meadows and Austin Federa, who together conducted extensive background research and secured funding for a professional site assessment.

Meadows and Austin also applied for and were awarded funding through Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program and WE Energies, which covered nearly 60 percent of the unit’s purchase price.

Northwind Renewable Energy from Stevens Point is conducting the panel installation.

Writer Rebecca Solnit Discusses “Hope, Disaster and Utopia” in Lawrence University Convocation

In collaboration with Green Roots’ Earth Week celebration, award-winning author and cultural historian Rebecca Solnit presents “Swimming Upstream in History: Hope, Disaster, Utopia” April 20 at 11:10 a.m. as part of Lawrence University’s 2009-10 convocation series.

Solnit’s address in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 520 E. College Ave., will be followed by a question-and-answer session at 2 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema. Both events are free and open to the public.

Rebecca-Solnit_web
Rebecca Solnit

An activist for ecological and human rights issues, Solnit is the author of 12 books, among them “Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities,” “Wanderlust: A History of Walking” and 2004’s “River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West,” a historical tour de force that has been hailed as one of the best books of the past decade.

In her most recent book, 2009’s “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster,” Solnit offers an investigation of human emotion in the face of catastrophe. She explore the common citizen responses of empathy, spontaneous altruism and mutual aid, which turn out to be more typical than the conventional perception of violence and selfishness, in the face of such disasters as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

A contributing editor at Orion Magazine, the San Francisco-based Solnit has been recognized with two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. She has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Solnit serves as contributing editor to Harper’s magazine and writes for the “London Review of Books” and the political website Tomdispatch.com.

Expanded Earth Day Celebration Offers Scholarly, Artistic, Musical Look at Environmental Issues

APPLETON, WIS. — Earth Day, the annual nationwide observance of environmental education and activism, celebrates its 39th birthday Wednesday, April 22 and Lawrence University will mark the occasion with a week-long series of events.

Jeff Clark, associate professor of geology and faculty associate to the president for Green Roots: The Sustainable Lawrence Initiative, which is one of the celebration sponsors, said part of Green Roots’ mission is to “cultivate habits of mind and dispositions that lead to care of the earth.

“We hope that by hosting a full week of programming we will engage the broader Fox Cities community in discussions of timely and locally relevant environmental issues such as local food systems and agriculture, waste and recycling and artistic expressions of the environment,” said Clark, chair of Lawrence’s interdisciplinary program in environmental studies.

Each day of the Earth week celebration will be devoted to a singular topic theme. The complete schedule is as follows:

Monday, April 20 — Food and Agriculture Day

• “Hands on Gardening,” 1-4 p.m., Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (bottom of Union Hill).

• “Food vs. Agricultural Biotechnology,” Andrew McCann, coordinator, Sustainable Local Food for All Canadians Program, St. Lawrence College, 6:30 p.m., Science Hall 102

Tuesday April 21 — Waste Reduction Day

• “Where Does Your Waste Go?,” an overview of the Outagamie County

Solid Waste and Recycling Facility, 5:15 p.m., Science Hall 102.

• “The Story of Stuff,” an animated, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of production and consumption patterns with Annie Leonard, an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, 6:15 p.m., Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Wednesday, April 22 — Global Climate Change Day

• “Climate Feedbacks and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Northern Peatlands: Meltdown of the Great White North,” Jeffrey White, professor of environmental sciences, Indiana University, 4:30 p.m., Science Hall 102

Thursday, April 23 — Environmental Art Day

• “Primitive Ways in an Accelerated World,” a presentation by sculptor Patrick Dougherty, who combines his carpentry skills with his love for nature to create works that allude to nests, cocoons and hives as well as the man-made forms of huts, haystacks and baskets by interweaving branches and twigs, 4:30 p.m., Wriston Art Center auditorium.

Friday, April 24 — Green Music Day

• “Music for Sea and Sky,” Lawrence University Wind Ensemble concert, featuring the world premiere of “Awaiting the Ghost Bird,” written by Lawrence Instructor of Music John Benson and “Peace is the River, Gently Flowing…” written by 1957 Lawrence graduate John Harmon, 8 p.m., Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Saturday, April 25 — Greenfire Day, a variety of music and volunteer activities sponsored by Greenfire, the student environmental organization

&bull: Pancake Breakfast, 9 a.m., Greenfire House.

• Fox River clean-up, 10 a.m., meeting point is the sustainable garden.

• Information booths, music, children’s activities, 11 a.m. -3 p.m. Main Hall Green.

Former EPA Official Discusses Post-9/11 Health Hazards in Lawrence University Earth Day Celebration Address

Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hazardous waste ombudsman Robert Martin will discuss the health disaster affecting New York City following the 9/11 attack and provide an insider account of federal environmental regulation “as it really works” in an address at Lawrence University as part of the college’s Earth Day celebration.

Martin presents “The Bush Administration and the Environment,” Wednesday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 121. The event is free and open to the public.

Martin will discuss the Bush administration’s handling of the situation in New York following the World Trade Center collapse which produced a toxic cloud that covered lower Manhattan for days after the tragedy and left substantial quantities of toxic materials in buildings.

In his role as ombudsman, Martin joined other government scientists in urging officials at the EPA and the Department of Justice to alert the public to the hazard and provide direction on ways to reduce health impacts.

That urging, along with investigations Martin was conducting into possible conflict of interest charges involving EPA chief Christine Whitman, brought him into direct conflict with the Bush administration and eventually led to the abolishment of the ombudsman’s office by Whitman.

He was later reassigned to the Inspector General’s Office to answer phones on the EPA hotline. Martin, who had spent more than nine years with the EPA, claimed the move to eliminate the ombudsman’s position was an attempt to squelch the ability to independently investigate wrongdoing at the agency. His subsequent resignation on Earth Day in
2002 made national headlines.

Martin’s visit, part of a state-wide speaking tour on the ongoing rollback of major environmental laws under the Bush administration, is sponsored by Greenfire, the student environmental organization, and the Co-op House.