An overly plump squirrel , carrying a half-eaten, plain Einstein Bros. bagel up a tree is not unusual across the University of Northern Colorado West campus. Not far from the tree, other pieces of trash are visible: the napkin with the Einstein Bros. logo crumpled up with a white, tall-sized Starbucks cup alongside another furry creature sipping the rest of its contents is also nearby. Down the way from the dining critters, a professor is speaking to students about sustainability–that professor is Richard Jurin.
Jurin, an associated professor of biology who specializes in environmental studies, is one of the faculty members involved with a movement going on this semester geared toward the planet. Andrew Svedlow, dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts, can also be credited for Earth Reveries coming to the University of Northern Colorado. Earth Reveries, a series of events geared toward sustainability awareness and living, is intended to encourage students and residents to be more conscious of the world around them. With the College of Performing and Visual Arts as its coordinating unit, Earth Reveries is also connecting the arts and the environment through music performance, craft activities and art shows.
“I produced an Earth Reveries symposium in 1984 at Penn State University and thought that the idea of connecting people to issues of environmental change through the arts and other activities was even more vital today than it was back then,” Svedlow said. Sustainable means conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources. Some events featured around campus include Earth day activities, “spring re-cleaning” and a “Backyard Eden” presentation. “Spring re-cleaning” is a drive to collect materials that otherwise would not be recycled including phone books, print cartridges, athletic shoes, computer keyboards, mice and cables, cell phones, No. 2 & No. 4 plastic bags (newspaper bags, grocery bags, etc.), clothing, bedding, towels and fabrics. The materials are collected at the Farr Library and the High Plains Library District. The drive lasts through the month of March and all collected items will be recycled at Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials in Boulder. That is not the only event that the libraries are promoting for sustainability.
To promote buying local goods, the libraries are also hosting a “Backyard Eden” night to educate adults on food awareness and eating locally. Other topics for the presentation include composting, water efficiency and the benefits of a backyard garden. Also offered is buying a patch of land in Greeley’s community gardens. Residents and students can rent a plot at UNC, Plumb Farm Learning Center or Houston Gardens to further the ideas learned in the “Backyard Eden” discussion. Activities extend from March into April, when UNC is having a clean-up day and sustainability fair leading up to Earth Day. Susan Nelson, community art director for UNC, said that if students were to attend just one event for Earth Reveries, Earth Day would be the day to choose because it is an all-day event and include a variety of activities. Earth Day, the culmination of Earth Reveries, is April 22.
Highlights for the day include featured speaker Holmes Rolston, CSU emeritus professor of philosophy speaking on the future of environmental ethics. An eco-pledge wall and a book giveaway will also be at the UC. The UC food court will be serving organic and vegetarian food selections on that day as well.
After final events for Earth Reveries during the beginning of the summer, that will not end the sustainability pursuit. There is the environmental studies minor available to students wanting an education on the subject. Those naysayers on the subject can continue on, living life as usual. But the question every single person should take into consideration is: “What kind of footprint and destruction am I leaving on Earth?”