Earth Week 2014

Students work on planting and cleaning up

Earth Week 2014 promoted sustainability through 15 different events.  

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For years, the administration and student body of Pacific University have focused on campus sustainability, through insisting cafeteria ingredients be purchased locally and offering majors in environmental studies and sustainable design. During no event is this commitment to the environment more obvious than Earth Week, a yearly celebration of all things environment-friendly. This year, gatherings included two “stuff swaps,” where students exchange unwanted items with other students instead of throwing them away, speaker Phil Mote, a climate scientist discussing the politics of climate change, and a vegan bake sale, which is exactly what it sounds like.
 
Though Earth Week celebrations lasted only seven days, the planning for the events began as early as fall semester. Fallon Harris '14, a sustainable design major, along with the rest of the Environmental & Civic Action (ECA) Core group on campus, has been meeting twice a month since fall in order to pull off the over fifteen Earth Week events. This level of early preparation was incredibly important, because as Harris tells it, their ECA-Core attendance fell during the spring, leaving the three seniors in the group mostly alone when wrapping up the planning.
 
“This was probably the biggest challenge we faced- lots of work and not enough people, all of whom were tied up with Capstones,” she explains.
 
Luckily, a partnership with the Center for a Sustainable Society on campus helped pull all the loose ends together, and Earth Week 2014 was widely regarded as an absolute success.
 
One of the largest events was the Natural Vibrations Earth Day Concert, held on a bustling Saturday night. “Hawaii's original party band” played a set during dinner in the University Center, helping to raise money for the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Toy Drive. Since 1996, “Natty Vibes” has released 6 full length albums with strong roots in reggae, rock and pop, and all in attendance agreed it was the perfect way to kick off Earth Week in style.
 
Another popular event was speaker Phil Mote, professor at Oregon State University and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Mote was billed as discussing the science, politics, and economics of climate change and how it's the world's biggest current environmental challenge, and he did not disappoint.
 
“It was great to listen and meet someone who is working with the largest body of scientists in the world,” Harris recalls, “[scientists] who are working everyday to help make our world better.”
 
The week ended with a pizza party and bonfire at the B-Street farm, one of Harris' self-professed favorite campus locations. All pizza ingredients were fresh, many from B-Street itself, providing students with a sustainable and delicious Friday night.
 
“Using the wood-fired cob oven to cook tasty pizza is always awesome.” Harris commented, the sounds of a crackling bonfire and smell of a job well done likely coming to mind.
 
Though Earth Week only happens seven days out of the year, the campus ECA-Core group, as well as the Center for a Sustainable Society agree that lessons learned during the fun-filled week can be implemented year-round. Harris has plenty of knowledge to impart on her fellow students, and was more than happy offer some tips to a more sustainable you.
 
“Be conscious of what you buy, as well as how much you consume. Read labels. Ask questions.  Turn lights off; don't let the water run. Take public transportation or ride a bike. Eat and shop local. Choose organic as much as possible,” she listed simply.
 
Most importantly, Harris offers with a smile that we must all “stop, observe, and appreciate the beautiful world around you.” And with week-long celebrations of our incredible planet organized by people with passion, how could we not?