Sustainability and Sunshine
April — a month of rebirth, growth, hope and beauty. Birds chirping, flowers blossoming, squirrels screeching: what better time to celebrate the Earth than this glorious time of year? April 12 – 22 marked the celebration of Earth Week. During this extended “week,” various events took place to celebrate the Earth, such as a Plum Creek clean-up and two community tree plantings.
Earth Week concluded with the celebration of Earth Day on Saturday, April 21. This beautiful day drew a crowd estimated to be about 600 people. Opening speeches were given by John Petersen, head of the environmental studies department, and Nathan Engstrom, the director of the office of environmental sustainability, about the progress and future responsibilities associated with pressing environmental issues.
The event boasted free food from co-ops, solar powered demonstrations, petitions from different organizations and live music, among many other things. One of the most popular demonstrations was a solar-powered Dance Dance Revolution video game.
Meredith Dowling, OC ’06, described the event as “a major success that brought different organizations and communities together in support of a universal cause.”
Rebecca Eiseman, a sophomore who is the student head of Oberlin’s chapter of the Ohio Public Interest Research Group, was responsible for an enormous portion of the planning and organizing of the event. “We were so lucky that Saturday was such a beautiful day; we didn’t have to do much to promote Earth Day. People just came out to the Wilder Bowl to enjoy the great weather,” exclaimed Eiseman.
She viewed the event as a success as well. “Compared to last year, there was a much better turnout. There was more participation from different student and community based organizations,” said Eiseman.
Eiseman still sees room for improvement, however. “I would like to improve Earth Day [next year] by involving more of the community members. Also, this year was a great celebration of the day, but I would like to see the event become more educational,” she said.
In addition, an Entrepreneurship and the Environment Panel was held on April 18, sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, the Social Entrepreneurship ExCo and the Office of Creativity and Leadership and Entrepreneurship at Oberlin. The goal of this event was to give students a chance to speak with esteemed environmentalists.
Dowling, the assistant coordinator of the office of environmental sustainability, attended this panel. “The event gave interested students a chance to look at solving environmental issues from an entrepreneurial perspective,” said Dowling. “Turnout wasn’t huge, but the people who attended appreciated the chance to talk to the panel about their own ideas. It encouraged students to develop their own ideas about how to make a difference environmentally,” Dowling continued.
Earth Week culminated with the announcement of the winner of the 2007 Dorm Energy Competition, which was held from April 6-20. On the final day of Earth Week, Talcott was announced as the winner of the competition, having reduced its emissions by about 25 percent.
The fourth annual competition was a major success with 12 of the 18 dorms and housing areas reducing their emissions from their baseline measurement. During Earth Week, Oberlin also participated in the Campus Ecology Chill Out contest sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. The contest distinguishes colleges and universities around the country that have created ground-breaking programs to reduce the impacts of global warming. While over 100 schools entered the competition, only Oberlin and seven other schools were presented with awards. Oberlin received the award for its Campus Resource Monitoring System.
“Colleges and universities are key places for demonstrating how to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the major culprit of global warming,” says Julian Keniry, director of campus and community leadership for the National Wildlife Federation. “Oberlin has demonstrated its leadership in promoting renewable energy options both on campus and throughout the surrounding community.”