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Earth Day celebration calls for community engagement

Earth Day celebration calls for community engagement

Susan Brockmann, a representative from All Our Energy, models 500 plastic bags to demonstrate the amount of plastic bags used by the average person each year.  Melanie Haid / Hofstra Chronicle

Calkins Quad buzzed with activism and sustainable activity during an Earth Day celebration held on Wednesday, April 18. Organized by the Center for Civic Engagement, the event featured multiple student groups at Hofstra as well as local organizations from the surrounding Long Island area. Many gathered to table on the grass with aims to enlighten the community regarding what individuals can do to make our world more sustainable in honor of Earth Day, which was celebrated internationally on Sunday, April 22.

The Earth Day Outdoor Celebration also featured performances by one of Hofstra’s a capella groups, Makin’ Treble, a pop-up farmer’s market sponsored by Compass Group outside of Bits & Bytes and an interactive exhibit that highlights shared identities called the UNITY project.

Freshman global studies major and member of Get Global at Hofstra Thomas Neilson said that awareness of climate change is not enough. “You have to actually contribute your energy and time to raising awareness and doing things about getting people to reduce their carbon footprint.”

James Eager made note of applying this activism to the community at Hofstra. A senior geography, global studies and sustainability major in the Sustainability Club, Eager said the focus of the club was to tailor practices specifically to Hofstra students. He said it is about “what each of us can individually do to make our campus and communities more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

The president of the same club, Amit Nath, a senior sustainability studies and geography information systems major, said it was important on a multitude of levels to conserve the environment and resources which is why he grows plants of his own. “I enjoy directly seeing sustainability in [growing peppers]; I grew this plant, let it weather, let it dry out so I could get the seeds for the next generation. The whole point of sustainability is having resources for yourself but also not putting the future generations at stake,” Nath said.

Other groups included students collecting signatures to form a Hiking Club on campus and the Animal Rights Association.

There was also one woman from the organization All Our Energy, who wore 500 plastic bags on her body to demonstrate the volume of the average number of plastic bags one person uses in a year. Susan Brockmann said that the problem with these bags is that they are so lightweight, “that they just escape and get into the ocean. These look like jellyfish to marine animals, so they eat them and die.”

The event allowed students to connect with one another about something everyone should be concerned with: the ground they stand on. The UNITY Project had a similar objective. Although not directly connected to the Earth Day celebration, the exhibit was also being held in the center of the Calkins Quad with an overlapping idea of unity.

The project asked participants to tie yarn around poles labeled with different identifiers, such as “I am LGBTQ” and “I am a student,” creating a colorful web of yarn, almost like a roof, that represents every individual’s journey. “It’s to counter the really aversive and divisive rhetoric in politics,” said senior psychology major Nandini Jhawar of Hofstra’s UNITY project. “You can celebrate diversity together.”

This project was presented through Hofstra International, the Pride Network, Nippon Culture Society, African Students Association, The Gender Identity Federation, South Asian Students Association, the Queer-Trans People of Color Coalition, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hofstra’s Organization of Latinx Americans, Collegiate Woman of Color, Hofstra Cultural Center, Center for Civic Engagement, Office of Student Leadership and Engagement and Events Management.

“This is not spring,” said Paul Auerbach from Food and Water Watch on Long Island. “The climate is changing.”

The evidence of this drew in a crowd to celebrate on campus, recognizing the beauty of the Earth as well as recognizing what we as a community and as individuals must do to preserve it.

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