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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell celebrates Earth Week

Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, is fast approaching and this year Grinnell College will celebrate with Earth Week, a series of presentations, outdoor workshops and activities, public meals and speaker events.

A result of a collaborative effort by the Center for Prairie Studies and a planning committee of students, faculty and staff, Earth Week events are connected by the common theme of promoting environmental responsibility and sustainability at the College.

Center for Prairie Studies Director Jon Andelson ’70, Anthropology was responsible for organizing an ad-hoc committee of around 25 students, faculty and staff dedicated to planning Earth Week. Included in the committee were leaders of student environmental organizations, such as the Student Environmental Committee, Iowater, Local Foods Network and more.

Andelson has developed a special interest in ecological anthropology throughout his professional career and was a main proponent in proposing the establishment of the Center for Prairie Studies, an interdisciplinary program dedicated to promoting en-gagement with the prairie region.

“The College was not paying very much attention at all to where it was,” Andelson said. “We’ve got a student body who are here for four years, and we weren’t doing a very good job in connecting people to where we were. Where we are can actually be a great teaching and learning resource.”

Andelson currently teaches a culture and agriculture course that incorporates trips to local farms.

As a Grinnell student, Andelson took part in the campus’s very first Earth Day celebration, and believed that the scope of awareness and attention towards environmental issues needed to be revived. He was thus prompted to lead efforts to bring together the growing number of campus organizations and efforts dedicated to fighting environmental issues.

Andelson invited Student Environmental Committee (SEC) co-chair Liza Morse ’15 to participate in the Earth Week planning committee. Morse explained that the series of events ended up extending over a period of more than two weeks, due to the sheer volume of ideas proposed by fervent committee members.

“There’s no day in which environmental issues don’t matter, Morse said. “We’re fighting for them all the time, so [the committee] realized that a day was not enough and maybe we needed more time dedicated to it.”

SEC co-hosted a film screening of “Sisters on the Planet” with Oxfam America on Tuesday, April 15 as a part of their pre-existing movie series.

Under the umbrella of promoting sustainability, Morse said that the planning committee was successful in incorporating diverse perspectives of the campus community, such as that of Associate Chaplain and Rabbi Rob Cabelli.

A board member at the Center for Prairie Studies, Cabelli said that sustainability crosses all boundaries of disciplines and hopes that Earth Week will highlight efforts to make the College more sustainable in its practices.

“I think we’re actually in a transitional period right here at the College … There are so many student groups and so much effort being carried out to promote responsible use of resources and working harmony with nature,” Cabelli said. “But there are clearly things that the College can do if it has the will to do to ensure that we are more re-sponsible in our use of resources.”

He pointed to efforts to use more local produce in the Dining Hall as a step towards better sustainability practices.

According to Cabelli, some have expressed interest in creating a Grinnell College farm, which would serve as a source for most of the food served in the Dining Hall.

Currently, a handful of student organizations are working towards increasing the College’s sustainable food resources. Madeline Warnick ’16, founder of the Real Foods Challenge on campus, was also involved in the Earth Week planning committee, and collaborated with the catering department to plan a free local dinner on Tuesday, April 22. The meal will comprise of mostly locally grown, fully sustainable ingredients, and will take place in JRC 101 at 6 p.m.

Also on April 22, Cabelli will give a talk titled “Privatization of the Ultimate Commons,” in JRC 101 at 7 p.m. The lecture will conclude the “(Re)Considering the Commons” series of speaker events sponsored by Center for Prairie Studies throughout the ongoing academic year. From a spiritual perspective, Cabelli will address the commons as an abstract, shared humanity.

Although the extensive collaboration behind Earth Week budded from engendering greater awareness of environmental responsibility and sustainable practices, events such as the Mural Painting outside the College Bookstore on Saturday, April 19, demonstrate the celebratory spirit of Earth Week.

“Whether it inspires people to become involved in campus groups or to be more interested and read about these issues … I would say [Earth Week] is a celebration of this place we live in and all it offers us,” Warnick said.

Earth Week events are scheduled until Saturday, May 3. For a detailed schedule, refer to posters around campus or the Grinnell College website.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the organization Madeline Warnick had founded on campus. The article has been amended to correct this error.

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