Greenfire to lead Earth Day celebration

Doris Kim

Earth Day will be celebrated Saturday, April 23, with events planned all over campus throughout the day. Greenfire, Lawrence’s environmental awareness organization, annually plans Earth Day events. The induction of our school’s organic garden has generated extra anticipation for this year’s festivities.
What initially started as a student project has turned into a university endeavor. Although the garden was originally intended to feed residents of the Greenfire House, the administration endorsed the project and hired garden workers. Food services will purchase the produce grown. Any surplus will likely be donated to local shelters.
“Bringing attention to what needs to be changed and what can be done will hopefully make students think about where their food comes from, and how much energy it takes to grow the food and ship it before it gets on their plates” said senior and Greenfire member Kendall Surfus. Greenfire hopes the garden will directly involve students in environmental responsibility.
Greenfire’s vision for promoting awareness includes the greater Appleton area as well as all members of Lawrence University. The organization hopes to attract a wide audience for Earth Day this year, especially with the diverse group of people involved with the activities. There has been strong involvement from students, faculty, and especially food services. There will be contributions from organizations from both on and off campus, as well as various speakers and performers recruited for this event.
“Earth Day is not just for people involved with Greenfire. It’s a day that anyone can be a hippie,” said Greenfire member Bethany Kondiles.
An environmentally-charged concert by Greg Brown, the main event planned for Earth Day, will take place in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Known for his appearances on National Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and his wide range of musical experience, Brown hopes to further dialogue about the environment. Tickets are free for Lawrence students, others pay $15 in advance and $18 at the door. All proceeds will be donated to the organic garden.
John Peck will be at Lawrence on Saturday continuing the coverage on agriculture with his speech, “Putting the Culture Back in Agriculture.” Peck is the executive director of Family Farm Defenders, a national nonprofit grassroots organization promoting sustainable agriculture, rural justice, and animal welfare as well as encouraging farmers and consumers to reclaim their influence from corporate agribusiness control.
While Earth Day is only one day, Greenfire hopes to show that small individual acts can have strong positive effects on the environment year-round. Greenfire has been prompting students’ awareness all year, most recently with the “clean plate club.” Members have tabled in Downer Commons all week, challenging students to take a pledge to eat all the food on their plate at every meal. At the end of the week, food services will weigh the difference in wasted food.
On average, students have wasted 200-300 pounds of food every day. Greenfire hopes that, by bringing students’ attention to these unnecessarily high numbers, the waste will significantly decrease. Greenfire’s constructive efforts can also be seen in the effects of a small change in the dining hall earlier this year. Just by moving the napkins to the tables, the use of napkins has been cut in half.
“Greenfire is excited about raising awareness to the Lawrence community, and about working with other individuals. Through Earth Day, I hope people realize they can modify in many ways, whether it be from buying food grown without fossil fuel fertilizers or monitoring paper waste and plastic use,” said Surfus.