Fifth-annual Earth Week programming kicks off

by Kelsey Flower | 4/19/15 7:46pm

Students can take part in Dartmouth’s fifth-annual celebration of Earth Week by tasting food at “Farm Fresh Friday,” becoming aware of their waste production via the Dartmouth Dining Services food waste display and engaging in discussion at the social justice and sustainability dinner.

Sustainability program manager Jenna Musco ’11 said that over the past five years, the College’s office of sustainability has honed in on three to four core Earth Week events that focus on three goals — educating members of the Dartmouth community about sustainability, encouraging participation and recognizing those who contribute to sustainability at the College.

This year’s programming kicked off with a sustainability solutions café hosted by the Hopkins Center last Thursday. The Nile Project, a group of performers from the 11 countries that border the Nile River, were present at a discussion of how preserving Nile River watershed compares to the Connecticut River watershed in a broader discussion of resource conservation.

The biggest event of the week, the sustainability and social justice dinner, will take place tonight at the Hanover Inn and will include a facilitated dinner discussion about the intersection of sustainability, inclusivity, community, justice and stewardship, Musco said.

“The idea was to bring together two important movements in the world today,” she said, citing the large amount of overlap between the social justice and sustainability movements.

The event has two purposes, Musco explained. One is to “push” the sustainability office and the Dartmouth community to keep having conversations about the intersection of these issues, and the other to show sustainability community members that they have peers that are willing to engage with these issues.

The George Link Jr. Environmental Awareness Lecture, titled “Sustainable Revolutions: The Quest for Real Food and Wine in the 21st Century,” will take place Tuesday. This year, it will feature Deirdre Heekin — a Vermont farmer, restauranteur, grape grower and wine maker. Heekin will be reading passages from her new book, “An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir,” and talking about the local food system and the economy.

“We’re doing a lot to develop our farm program and there are a lot of students interested in food and agriculture and the business around those two things,” Musco said. “We’re hoping that she’s able to come and speak about those experiences.”

The third event on the calendar is a screening of the documentary “Wrenched” (2014), a film about Edward Abbey, an environmental advocate of the 1970s and ’80s at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, with which the sustainability office partnered to host the event.

The final event of the week will be “Farm Fresh Friday,” which Musco said is “beloved” by students.

The event is organized by the sustainability office’s Green Greek staff. Musco described it as a fun, social event with a sustainability theme. Vendors from across the Upper Valley are invited to give out samples of their food.

The hope for “Farm Fresh Friday” is to inspire students to think that sustainability is not just a means to correct for human impact on the environment, but can be fun in and of itself, Musco said.

As an overview, Musco said that they try to cater their events to different interests at Dartmouth and in the Upper Valley that are action-oriented but can also be more of a passive learning opportunity.

Musco added that the diversity of the events provides an opportunity for varied student interest.

The Earth Week Committee, which was formed two years ago to promote visibility and grass roots participation in Earth Week, is also organizing awareness events in places with high student body traffic, Musco said.

Strategic communications intern Katie Williamson ’15 said she helped create the committee and is currently leading it. The committee is responsible for two main projects — an Earth Week display in Baker-Berry Library and a DDS food waste display at the Class of 1953 Commons, in addition to fielding a communications team.

Williamson said that one of the reasons she started the committee last year was because she saw other groups successfully using weeks to spotlight issues and raise awareness.

“I think sustainability touches a lot of different aspects of campus, and this is a time where we can make that really visible,” she said.

On Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., students in ’53 Commons will be asked to scrape their food into clear plastic bins instead of putting it directly onto the conveyor belt, event organizer Claire Beskin ’16 said. The amount of people who scrape their food will be recorded with clickers, and the blackboard will hold a running tally of how many bins have been filled. At the end of the night, the volume of food that is wasted per student at dinner will be calculated, she said.

The clear bins will create a “visual, powerful image” of how much food is wasted at ’53 Commons and hopefully “spark dialogue,” Beskin added.

Both Musco and Williamson said they see Earth Week as an important time to make students excited about sustainability. Williamson also said that the College has a long way to go in terms of improving its sustainability efforts.

“Seeing as Dartmouth is in this beautiful rural area, has access to so many amazing natural resources and there’s so much here to share, it would be sad if we couldn’t really involve students more,” Williamson said.