Lawrence commemorates Earth Week with Earthfest and other sustainability events

On Sunday, April 21, Greenfire hosted the annual Earthfest in Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk Plaza. The event was the first of a series for Earth Week, where both Lawrence and community-based sustainability organizations came to campus to spread awareness of environmental issues and opportunities to act for the environment.  

“Earth” spelled out with Earthfest flyers on the side of Wriston Art Center. Photo provided by Lauren Chamberlain.

Earthfest was part of a larger Earth Week celebration on campus. On Earth Day, Monday, April 22, Associate Professor of Geosciences Relena Ribbons presented her lab’s research on forests and soils in the Science Hall Colloquium.  Later that day, in collaboration with Lawrence’s 17 Days of Kindness event series, the LUCC Sustainability Committee painted the wall near the garden in commemoration of the week. The painting was followed by a gardening and bonfire session. On Tuesday, April 23, Lawrence gave out rechargeable batteries in the Warch Campus Center. On Wednesday, April 24, the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) Sustainability Committee and the Food Recovery Network (FRN) hosted a “Fight Food Waste Day” training session. Also that day and on Thursday, April 25, Greenfire held showings of “Erin Brockovich” and “Food Inc.” in the Warch Cinema. On Thursday, April 25, the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (SLUG) hosted a tote bag–­making event, where participants upcycled old t-shirts they either brought or received from the LU Thrift Store. On Friday, April 26, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and Associate Professor of Government Jason Brozek conducted a tour of bike and pedestrian infrastructure along downtown College Avenue, with a focus on sustainability and safety.  

Some of the on-campus organizations that hosted booths at Earthfest were SLUG, which sold herbs and honey produced in the garden, and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), who were promoting their ongoing “Divest from Death” campaign encouraging the university to cut funding to fossil fuel companies. On-campus bands Lyle’s Tree and Larry’s Triangle performed at the event.  

Greenfire board member senior Lauren Chamberlain said that Greenfire tried to bring more justice-based organizations — environmental and social justice being two categories that she named — to Earthfest this year to diversify the event. She emphasized the importance of off-campus organizations to help students build connections and network.  

“Community is essential,” Chamberlain said. “Knowing that you’re not alone, that you’re building relationships with people that are on the same page as you, have experienced the same thing or share the same goal, or just even building that empathy for one another […] organizing is so important.” 

The Greenfire table at Earthfest. Greenfire was one of several social and environmental justice organizations that tabled at the event. Photo provided by Lauren Chamberlain

Chamberlain placed importance on collaboration to reach their end goal of a more sustainable community, as she believes working together will yield greater results than working separately. 

 “A lot of times, I feel like […] you have a bunch of people trying to do the same thing […] so bringing that intentionality into organizing, especially with grassroots movements, is really important to build the community,” Chamberlain said.  

For the future, Chamberlain hopes to partner Earthfest with a job fair, which would bring sustainable and justice-facing employers to campus. She said this will help students network with local grassroots organizations that could present potential career opportunities.  

“We have high hopes that this event can get bigger and better,” Chamberlain said.  

There are still some Lawrence Earth Week events coming up. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the LUCC Sustainability Committee will provide shuttles to Appleton-area parks for a trash pick-up effort. Also on that day, the committee will host an invasive species pulling at 1 p.m., where attendees can learn about how to identify and remove invasive species.