Midd expands Earth Day celebration to full week

By Middlebury Campus

This year Middlebury students joined over a billion people in celebrating Earth Day, what, according to the Earth Day Network, is the “largest civic observance in the world.” In an effort to do more than celebrate the planet, the SGA Environmental Affairs Committee organized a week’s worth of events to promote support and awareness of environmental issues. This year’s theme was “There Is No Planet B.”

Katie Romanov ’12, this semester’s SGA Environmental Council director, said that the theme was designed to “remind people that this is our one chance to protect our planet by living sustainably and responsibly.”

While the week was organized by the SGA, various student organizations contributed to the schedule. From lectures on climate change to a giant cake wishing everyone a happy Earth Day, students found diverse ways to celebrate.

Olivia French ’14, co-founder of “Hike a Trail, Save a Forest,” planned a hike on April 17 up Snake Mountain to raise money for the Plant a Billion Trees organization.

The Earth Day festival featured a table for the Vermont Hardwood Pens Company. Photo by Jiayi Zhu

“My brother and I founded [Hike a Trail, Save a Forest] together, because we just realized that so much of our western lifestyle is dependent on rainforests,” said French. “Forests are so important to reducing global warming, and the Plant a Billion Trees program is so great because for every dollar you give, they plant a tree.”

French hopes to hold a hike each year to raise money for the organization.

“Other colleges joined with us this year and hiked where they were, and I hope that it keeps expanding each year,” said French.

Another of this year’s events was the screening of a new film about carbon neutrality, “Carbon Nation.”

“It was uplifting to finally see an environmental documentary that showcases real solutions, as opposed to the doom and gloom scenario often portrayed in the media,” said Romanov. “I highly recommend it.”

On April 23, the Residential Sustainability Coordinators (RSCs) of Cook Commons hosted an RSC Festival. Many local businesses, farmers and student organizations participated.

RSCs organize cheese sampling station for Earth Day festival. Photo by Jiayi Zhu

Head of the Cook Commons RSCs Jak Knelman ’12 organized the event along with the help of Cook RSCs French, Leslie Reed ’14, Vincent Mariano ’14 and Suzanne Calhoun ’14.

“We wanted to bring the whole school together,” said Knelman. “With Cook commons RSCs heading [the RSC Festival] up, we knew we could bring the campus together. It’s usually held in town, but we wanted to bring it up here so it could be more accessible for students.”

After deciding to hold a festival on campus, each of the RSCs did their part to invite local businesses and student organizations to attend.

“[Knelman] emailed the Farmer’s Market at Middlebury Marbleworks,” said Calhoun. “And we got quite a few from there. Each RSC went around and contacted student organizations.”

“A big part of this is how you can access this stuff on campus and around this area,” said Knelman.

And, ultimately, that’s what Earth Week was about.

“Earth Week lets students know of all the resources — both on campus and in the local community — that they can tap into to participate in environmental initiatives during their time at the College,” said Romanov. “It is really important, for underclassmen especially, to know that there is lots going on, and there are many ways to get involved.”