Not many people in Southeastern Ohio consider Earth Day a big deal. This is mostly because they have been celebrating for 22 days and will continue the Earth-lovin' party for the next eight.
Ohio University's Office of Sustainability
once again launched Earth Month, setting April as a stage for all the local, sustainable and organic players in the area to express themselves in a 30-day festival. April 1 found students with locally-produced ice cream in their hands from Snowville Creamery
, a grass-fed creamery that supplies local stores with milk bottled on the day the cows were milked. But wait, there's more: the ice cream was made by pedal power, the old-fashioned way. If that doesn't warm the green cockles of your heart, you might as well stop reading now.
In addition to vegan cooking workshops and sustainable craft nights, residents in the Athens area also learned about the local ecosystems through wildflower hikes and several garlic mustard pulls. Garlic mustard
is an invasive plant that outcompetes local wildflowers for light, water and nutrients. It is also a threat to the rare West Virginia white butterfly, as it extirpates the butterfly's food source and is poisonous to its eggs if laid on the leaves. Plant biology professors and local leaders have been leading the pulls in different areas of Athens to improve the health of ecosystems.
Certainly, a large celebration is not complete without at least one celebrity appearance. I had the pleasure of meeting Jerusha Klemperer, the editor of Slow Food USA
, a blog that has created a worldwide movement linking food and communities. She is also a food contributor for the Huffington Post, as well as her personal blog, eathere2
. She is a fascinating, excitable woman with a passion for food. Her bright personality is certainly a nod to her acting background. Klemperer turned to food blogging as a hobby after reading the now-famous blog of Julie Powell
and her year-long journey through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
. She visited my environmental journalism class and spoke to us about the revolutionary world of blogging and its importance in the journalism movement. She later spoke to Ohio University's Society of Professional Journalists on her work with the local food movement and creating a network of Slow Food chapters. Find your local chapter here
The Office of Sustainability was not going to leave Earth Day without its deserved recognition. All campus dining halls are offering a wide array of vegetarian selections at each meal on Earth Day, educating students outside the classroom about their carbon footprints. Ohio University's improv comedy troupe, Black Sheep Inc
is incorporating an Earth Day theme into their usual side stitch-inducing shenanigans. Also today is EDGE, the Earth Day Green Event, a block party including a live concert, food and information from all of the local and student sustainability organizations.
Here in Southeast Ohio, Earth Month really isn't a sudden infiltration of green-themed events: it's a celebration and a highlighting of all the green efforts and organizations that are available to Athenians and other locals year-round. Our farmers market
is praised by the Audobon Society as one of the most remarkable in the country. The Office of Sustainability works throughout the school year and after, putting on events such as the Clean Plate Club and Residents' Challenge to push students to reduce their carbon footprint and become more aware of their impact on our area and the world.
I'm an Ohio University student. It's Earth Day, and I'm proud to be in Athens, Ohio, celebrating it.