Earth Week 2014 Highlights: A New Collaborative Tradition
This year, Earth Week offered an unprecedented number of sustainability events and activities. Under the new leadership of the Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC), Earth Week was planned over the course of the 2014 spring semester. Each week, members of student sustainability groups across campus met to plan and organize Earth Week. The result of this collaborative effort was one of the most dynamic Earth Weeks offered on campus in recent years. Over 30 events were organized and offered beginning Monday April 21st and continuing through Sunday April 27th.
Below we have highlighted a selection of events with photos (note, this is not a full list of events that took place. To view the full itinerary visit the Earth Week page on SERC’s website):
Monday, April 21st:
12PM: The Human Oil Spill hosted by both Students Against Fracking and Fossil Free Cal attracted much attention on Dwinelle Plaza at lunchtime. Students, completely dressed in black, laid on the floor under a large oil rig model with signs that spoke to oil-related issues. The event was in conjunction with the anniversaries of the BP Oil Spill and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and was meant to raise awareness of the effects and frequency of oil spills.
“I think the human oil spill was a success because it was a joint effort of Fossil Free Cal and Students Against Fracking to begin uniting under our ‘Fossil Freedom’ platform. We (SAF) are still building that conversation with Fossil Free Cal, and the Human Oil Spill allowed both groups to mobilize and spread awareness on an issue that affects us all.” Said Kristy Drutman, co-coordinator of Students Against Fracking.
4pm: The “Berkeley and the Global Food System” Decal hosted a talk on Bees and the Global Food System. Graduate student Hillary Sardiñas gave a talk on bees and their relationship to food cultivation.
“For all of the talk about losing our bees, hearing an expert say that there is hope was a refreshing change,” commented UC Berkeley sophomore Jonathan Reader, who attended the event.
Tuesday, April 22nd:
9am-3pm: On Earth Day, around twenty environmental organizations gathered on Sproul from 9am to 3pm to table and and host activities for the student community. At the tables, students created Earth-related art, wrote green messages, won free sustainable prizes, and learned about different environmental organizations on campus.
Various members of the community participated in the celebration, including young toddlers that marched across Sproul with signs expressing appreciation for the Earth. Students Against Fracking, the Student Organic Garden Association (SOGA), the Strawberry Creek Collective, and Grow the Revolution hosted teach-ins on the Sproul steps.
12pm: At around noon, Cal Band performed on Sproul, followed by a rap from Sustainable John and a song by Meredith Jacobson. These performances concluded with a March of Positive Environmental Messages led by Haley Broder.
Later that day, Steam’s EcoMovie team hosted a screening of the film “Blue Gold”.“I think it went very well. We had a great turnout of people,” stated Russel Huang, a member of Steam. “It was great to see so many people come out to learn about a very important topic, especially in California—water!”
Wednesday, April 23rd:
Early Wednesday morning, the Student Organic Garden Association (SOGA) hosted a vertical gardening workshop to teach people alternative methods to gardening. Andy from SOGA led the workshop of about eight people, and during that time a preschool visited the garden.
“It was a beautiful morning. I really liked SOGA because it wasn’t right on UC Berkeley’s campus, so it felt like it was more in the community. It totally taught me a different way of gardening. It’s super efficient, you can use the top and poke holes in the sides, and everything is under ten dollars so it’s really reasonable.” Said Talia Schmitt, a young community member.
The technique that was taught involved using a burlap sack from coffee grinds to grow produce. Andy has experience using this technique in Africa through the campaign, “Give a Child Life,” where he helped teach people to more efficiently produce their own food.
2:30-5PM: Later that day, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (CACS) held it’s annual Summit with the theme of Food Justice. The event began with a poster session where various individuals and student groups presented projects completed or currently in the works related to improving sustainability on and around campus. Projects ranged from fixing cooling towers on campus to reducing waste water.
A video recording of the Chancellor’s speech was presented, followed by awards to sustainability leaders on campus. The event concluded with the highly anticipated talk by Saru Jayaraman, who highlighted food justice and the relationships of workers’ rights to environmental justice.
Thursday, April 24th:
5:30pm: The Student Organic Garden Association (SOGA) hosted a nature-inspired writing workshop, where students could sit and practice their writing skills in the garden. About ten students attended. All writing activities were led by UC Berkeley student Nicole Wong. Students were instructed to find a particular plant or corner of the garden and write to the plant, about the plant, or in the “shoes” of the plant. After writing, students gathered together and shared thoughts and prose.
7pm: Fossil Free Cal hosted a screening of the films “Do the Math” and “Poison Fire.”
“I thought the juxtaposition of the two films worked really well in provoking a critical approach and generating an interesting informal discussion about intersectionality and environmental justice afterwards,” stated Jake Soiffer, student member of Fossil Free Cal. “Even though only a couple dozen people attended, they all seemed very passionate and determined to work on these issues in the future.”
7pm: Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy (BOAA) screened the film “Blackfish,” moving many students, including freshman Elsie Andreyev. “It was a really inspiring movie, and it makes you think back to the times you went to SeaWorld and the zoo and how cruel it is.” She said. “After watching the movie, you really start to see past the glamour and the ugly truth becomes so apparent, you’re surprised you didn’t see it earlier. All I can say is that everyone needs to sacrifice 83 minutes of their life to see it. All I can say is that my children will never step foot into a zoo, SeaWorld, or any animal attraction park as long as they live.”
Friday, April 25th:
5pm: The last Mixed Greens of the semester was held on the Friday of Earth Week. Members of the campus environmental community joined together and socialized, successfully concluding a full school week of Earth-love on a good, “green” note. The event was organized by newly elected ASUC Senator Haley Broder, and had a turnout of about 40 students.
Saturday, April 26th:
Members of the East Bay community came together for Community Farm Day at the Gill Tract. Around a hundred people from all walks of life showed up throughout the course of the day to work on the farm, enjoy puppet shows and musical entertainment, and discuss ideas surrounding the movement to defend the Gill Tract from development. There was an area for children to play in as well as free lunch from the Berkeley Student Food Collective. After the event ended, a group of people remained to plant an oak tree by the area of the Tract that is scheduled to be developed soon. This oak tree is meant to symbolize the strength of resistance and vitality of the many individuals who are fighting to maintain the land for the community.
Sunday, April 27th:
The Hills to Bay Strawberry Creek Watershed walk provided students with the opportunity to learn all about the Strawberry Creek watershed and Berkeley Hills. Upon students’ requests, the tour focused on native and invasive plant species common in the Berkeley Hills. Starting near the UC Botanical Garden, a group of about 7 people walked along the creek, pausing to look at notable plants and diversions of the creek’s flow. The group followed the creek down the hills and through the UC campus, ending up at the bay.
The Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC) would like to thank all those involved in the planning process for Earth Week 2014. The following organizations all played a huge role in making this dynamic and collaborative week a success:
ASUC Office of Sustainability, ASUC Sustainability Team (STeam), Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy (BOAA), Berkeley Student Food Collective, Building Sustainability at Cal, Cal Dining Sustainability Team, CalPIRG, College of Environmental Design- Landscape Architecture Conservation & Resource Studies Student Organization (CRSSO), EthiCAL, Fossil Free Cal, Global Environmental Theme House (GETH), Greening the Greeks, Grow the Revolution, the Pallud Lab, PowerSave Campus, Residential Sustainability Program (RSP), ReUSE, Strawberry Creek Collective, Student Organic Gardening Association (SOGA), Students Against Fracking, Wildlife Society, ASUC Auxiliary Marketing, ASUC Auxiliary Event Services, Campus Recycling and Refuse Services, Career Center, Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability, Ecology Center, myPower, Office of Sustainability, SkyDeck, & The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF).