Portland State to celebrate Earth Day today

OSPIRG, Food For Thought Cafe and the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) are hosting a campus-wide Earth Day celebration today to raise awareness about environmental protections and foster activism within the student community.

“It’s going to be a cool way to find out what’s going on around campus,” said Jamie Hogue, an ASPSU senator and one of the event coordinators. “Lots of students want to get involved and make a difference, but they don’t know how to get started.”

According to Hogue, Sam Chase, a democratic contender for Oregon Senate District 17, plans to attend the celebration. Chase, who worked on former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s staff and on the campaign of Portland Commissioner Erik Sten, is known for a strong environmental stance.

“The Try/on Life Community Farm people will be here, too,” Hogue said. The farm has been in the news for engaging in a long legal battle and reclaiming their farmland from developers.

Enthusiastic volunteers can find Earth Day activities all over the Portland Metro area.

“It’s a way to link up students and resources,” Hogue said. “There will be all kinds of community agencies and organizations there, and they’re all looking for volunteers.”

The event will take place in the south park blocks behind PSU from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., featuring keynote speakers, representatives from local government, information booths and live music by Relob, Stalking Jane and Cark.

Additionally, Portland State honors Earth Day by hosting its first annual “Earth Day of Service,” sponsored by the PSU Center for Academic Excellence.

The service event takes place on Saturday, April 22, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and volunteers will gather for opening remarks in the South Park Blocks next to Cramer Hall. In case of rain, opening ceremonies will be held in the Smith Center.

Pramod Parajuli, professor of Education and co-founder and executive director of the Portland International Initiative will give opening remarks for Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning.

Participants will then travel to four designated community sites: Lewis Elementary, King Elementary, Zenger Farms and Portland Impact’s Richmond Center. Once there they’ll paint murals, build compost bins, plant shrubs and flowers, move and refurbish a greenhouse or even decorate a playground.

Transportation, a continental breakfast, refreshments and snacks are provided for those who register in advance. Participants may pre-register at www.pdx.edu/cae/slsevents.html.

Earth Day began at the hands of John McConnell, who helped create the holiday as a reminder of humanity’s collective wish to protect the earth. McConnell, who also designed the Earth flag, first introduced the idea as a global United Nations holiday at a UNESCO Conference on the environment in 1969. McConnell was inspired to create the Earth flag after seeing the first photographs of Earth from space.

In the spring of 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) proposed an environmental “teach-in” for the nation’s universities to capitalize off of the highly protested Vietnam War and President Nixon’s recently signed National Environmental Policy Act.

Nelson chose April 22, the birthday of the founder of Arbor Day, J. Sterling Morton, for his nationwide teach-in. Arbor Day, celebrated the last Friday in April, promotes tree planting and fosters awareness of urban and suburban ecosystems.

To make sure that his teach-in and Arbor Day remained distinct, Nelson called his new event “Earth Day.”

One year later, the first municipal proclamation of Earth Day came on March 21, 1970 by Joseph Alioto, Mayor of San Francisco. Since then, the holiday has become the focus of celebrations all over the country.

The United Nations marks Earth Day each year around March 21 at the time of the vernal (spring) equinox, the moment that spring begins in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. The Peace Bell at New York City’s UN Headquarters rings at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, ushering in two minutes of global silent prayer for the Earth.

Beyond Portland State hosted events, various areas of the city will have separate Earth Day events.

Oregon City hosts “Celebrating Water: Connecting Water, Land and People” on April 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event includes storytelling, a plant sale, live music, water resource booths, activities for kids, food and a compost bin sale. It will be held at 15962 S. Hunter Ave. in Oregon City.

The City Repair Project again hosts its annual Earth Day Celebration of Localization. The event is now in its seventh year and will likely bring together over 4,000 people.

Featured events include a free seed and plant exchange from Portland Community Gardens, Service Projects at Oaks Bottom and the Sellwood community and organized bike rides from all parts of Portland to Sellwood Park.

The City Repair event takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on April 22. For more information visit http://www.cityrepair.org/wiki.php/projects/earthday.

Willamette Riverkeepers are holding an Earth Day “Sea Lion Paddle” on April 22. Participants will paddle canoes from Clackamette Park to Sellwood Park, watching for salmon and seal lions along the river. Registration is required; call 503-223-6418 for details.

Additionally, Adrian Haley, a protester who climbed some 60 feet up a tree outside Rep. Brian Baird’s Vancouver, WA office on April 16, plans to descend Saturday during an Earth Day celebration in nearby Fort Vancouver.

Haley’s actions are in protest of Baird’s decision to cosponsor the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act – HR4200, and of Baird’s support for post-forest fire logging.

An ecosystem test – available at http://www.earthday.net/Footprint/index.asp – measures how much land and water a person needs to produce the resources they consume and to absorb the wastes they create. The test also lets people compare their own footprint with that of people around the world.


How to get involved

How can a college student help save the Earth, right here, right now? Here are some ways to start:

  • Drive differently – Anything that can be do to improve the fuel efficiency of cars will have an enormous impact on climate change and global warming.
  • Drive less – Walk if possible, carpool, take a bike or ride the bus.
  • Get your car tuned up – A simple tune-up can improve fuel efficiency. Save gas by avoiding Type A driving and not racing car engines.
  • Watch the home thermostat – Seal doors and windows against leaks and change furnace filters twice a year.
  • Go easy on the heating and air-conditioning – too cold? Put on a sweater. Too hot? Take some clothes off (or just open a window).
  • Dry clothes on a rack or clothesline – a huge power-saver over clothes dryers.
  • Use and reuse recycled materials – clothes, books, music, paper and more.
  • Be a minimalist – Buy in bulk and buy only what is needed. Avoid items with several layers of packaging.
  • Go organic – Eating organic supports a food source that is sustainable and that does not add pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers to the land.
  • Plant a garden if possible – it is possible to grow an incredible amount of veggies in even a small space, and costs little. Xeriscape as much as possible, using plants that don’t need additional watering. Install rain barrels to reclaim rainwater for garden use. Build a compost pile. Plant a tree.

Happy Earth Day!