Students don’t celebrate mama nature for just 24 hours — they need five days to celebrate its greatness at the University of Illinois. Here in Champaign-Urbana, there are lectures, green business and student organization fairs, public movie showings, benefit concerts and a good ole’ fashioned junk swap. Thanks to efforts by two student coordinators, Earth Week 2011 so far has been a delight.
“We are making resources available for people,” said earth week director Eli Chen. “Most of our events are low-key, but it allows for people to celebrate for more than just one day.”
Chen and Lauren Paris started planning for the week in the end of January.
“We voted on the movies to show, what events we should have and the speakers, too,” said Paris, sophomore in Global Studies.
Before the official celebration tomorrow, the girls planned a movie showing of "The Lorax" and "Planet Earth" on the quad. Due to a predicted rainy forecast, they’re forced to relocate into drier confines. However, they’re offering popcorn and workshops sponsored by the student sustainable farm and the city’s local co-op grocery store.
“Tonight should be fun,” said Paris. “A lot of my friends will come, and even if it is indoors, it’ll be fun to get people aware of new interests.”
Besides a classy film extravaganza, the girls planned an intellectual experience for those interested in current sustainability problems and solutions.
Two speakers, Michael Ableman and Nancy Creamer visited campus to discuss the theme for this year’s Earth week: local food. Ableman whose credentials include author, farmer and practitioner of sustainable agriculture of regional food systems spoke on “Feeding the Future”. On Tuesday, his Keynote speech brought in crowds despite local tornado warnings outside.
“It was really interesting to learn more about sustainable farming,” said Paris. “He had different ideas to think about, like making all roof space on buildings into gardens. It was really cool.”
For Earth day tomorrow, Nancy Creamer, the Director of North Carolina State’s Center for Environmental farming Systems and Endowed Kellogg Chair, will share the story of building a statewide vital food network.
Today, students got the chance to trade their own junk for new junk. Clothes, books, CDs and just random treasures were up for grabs in an effort to encourage students to re-use instead of buying more.
To finish off the week and top off Earth Day, there will be a benefit concert with all proceeds going to the student sustainable farm.
“I’m really looking forward to the show,” said Chen. “I had a great time at last year’s concert, and we have a lot of great bands playing this year.”
Chen explained that musicians traveling from Chicago and Milwaukee will headline the Friday night event.
Who needs just one day, when you can celebrate for an entire week?
“It’s really just an opportunity to get kids interested in environmental causes,” said Chen. “It provides resources for kids to get involved and to interact with each other at all of these events.”
At Illinois, the land of corn and soy, students really know how to celebrate Earth day with great joy!