The 50th anniversary of Earth Day, first organized by Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, takes place April 22. Originally the milestone anniversary was to be celebrated with a week full of activities and events on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus, but the coronavirus pandemic altered plans set by UWO’s Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations (SIRT).
With the stay-at-home order in place, SIRT changed course with virtual Earth Week events now planned for April 20-25.
“The current global pandemic gives this Earth Day special significance, as it encourages us to reflect on our relationship to each other, to other species and to the broader environment, and to consider the kind of world we they want to shape going forward,” said Kevin Crawford, UWO SIRT director. “This year, we engage with Earth Day’s past, present and future through a series of virtual events, remembering that even when we are apart, we are in this together.”
Earth Day on Wednesday will include virtual panel discussions focusing on Earth Day, COVID-19 and sustainability, an art workshop and student climate activism. It also will include an outdoor cleanup, done individually but together.
A panel focusing on the past, present and future of Earth Day is set for 9 to 10 a.m. and will “reflect on the meaning of Earth Day and the role of environmental activism in shaping a more sustainable future.” Panelists include student organizers of the first Earth Day, Harley Christensen ’73 and David Misterek ’69, ’74 MST, along with current UWO history professor Stephen Kercher, alumna Dani Stolley ’97 and current student Samantha Sprenger.
The Big Slow Down: Art and Sustainability in the Time of COVID-19 art workshop will be led by Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization RuckusRoots on the connections between staying home, living sustainably and the creative process. Those attending the virtual event will learn to make artisanal seed paper at home with recycled newspaper, scraps or old notebooks. This is set for 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
All events are free and open to all students, faculty and staff, alumni and community members.
“Our hope is that these events will provide a bright spot during a difficult time, reminding us of our connection to the Earth and each other and that we have the power to shape a better future,” said Stephanie Spehar, associate director of SIRT.
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- This Changes Everything
More information on Earth Week, a full description of events and links to all virtual panels can be found here.