University of Virginia Sets Earth Week Observances

Earth Week 2012 will be the liveliest observance yet at the University of Virginia, with presentations, exhibits, classes, food and music the week of April 16-22.

"Earth Week at U.Va. is about connecting people to the resources and inspiration needed to create a sustainable U.Va. community," said Nina Morris, sustainability outreach coordinator in Facilities Management. "With more than 20 events and 40 U.Va. and regional organizations participating, Earth Week demonstrates the relevance and importance of sustainability throughout our community."

During the week, $20,000 in grants will be awarded for student sustainability projects on Grounds. Among other events will be a recycled arts and crafts show, a green career fair, a local food fair, an eco-fair, a community garden potluck and workshop and a recycling drive for "e-waste" – unwanted consumer electronics.

"This is a time for people to celebrate our environment and each other and generate new ways to enrich our lives," Morris said. "We expect more than 1,500 people will participate in our Earth Week celebration this year, and we invite the entire community to come out."

Organizers are expecting participation from across Grounds and the surrounding community.

"Earth Week is a great opportunity for everyone at U.Va. and in Charlottesville to learn about what our community is doing, both locally and globally, to improve the environment and also learn ways to make our lives greener," Morris said.

Among the highlights of this year's event:

  • Earth Week will kick off April 16 with a recycled art-making project from 3 to 7 p.m. at Jefferson Hall on the West Range. Attendees will make art and crafts with recycled materials and learn creative ways to repurpose everyday items.
  • Also on April 16, from 5 to 7 p.m., graduate students are invited to play the UVA Bay Game in the new OpenGrounds Studio. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the UVA Bay Game is a large-scale participatory simulation based on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Players take on the roles of stakeholders – farmers, developers, watermen, and local policymakers – and get to see how their decisions affect each other and the health of the bay. To register, click here.
  • A Green Career Fair on April 17 will present sustainable internship, volunteer and career opportunities. The fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Clark Hall Mural Room.
  • April 18 will feature a local food show at the Fine Arts Café from 4 to 6 p.m.. Sponsored by U.Va. Dining Services, the show will feature vendors such as the Local Food Hub, Farm at Red Hill and Twin Oaks. Samples of local food, such as produce, salsa, hummus and tofu, will be available, along with information about U.Va Dining Services' local purchasing program. Several student groups, including the U.Va. Community Garden and U.Va. Sustainability, will encourage increased student involvement and action on related sustainability projects.
  • Also April 18, the Green Initiatives Funding Tomorrow, a Student Council-funded program for sustainability projects on Grounds, will host a poster session from noon to 2 p.m. in Garden I to announce the inaugural recipients of $20,000 in GIFT funding. Students from several winning teams will explain their projects.
  • April 19's activities include an Eco-Fair in the McIntire Amphitheater, featuring approximately 30 vendors, including Virginia Dominion Power, local eco-blogger "Better World Betty," Community Bikes, Habitat for Humanity and many others. There will be "photo-booth" where participants can get their pictures taken with various props and sustainability pledge signs. There will also be a bicycle-powered blender for people to make their own smoothies, an opportunity to help paint the Greek recycling trailer, a tap water challenge and an environmental trivia contest. Student groups signed up for the Eco-Fair include Green Grounds, U.Va. Community Garden, Engineering Students Without Borders, the Environmental Sustainability Committee of the Student Council, Greek Recycling and Ride Forward. The fair, which focuses on sharing information on sustainable projects, groups, products and more, will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • On April 20 from 4 to 6 p.m., a potluck supper and workshop will be held at the Observatory Hill Garden, located at the intersection of McCormick and Alderman roads. There will also be a workshop on container gardening with dirt, seeds and containers provided. The event is being organized by the U.Va. Community Garden.
  • On April 21, there will be an "E-cycle" drive at the John Paul Jones Arena from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for recycling electronic waste products, including cellular telephones, computers, television sets and consumer electronics. For a full list of what can be dropped off, click here.

A complete schedule is available online.

Students formed an Earth Week 2012 committee to coordinate events, provide promotion and support for all the events. The committee, which includes Kelsey Petrie, Kelly Farmer, Holly Mayton and Abby Credicott, meets regularly with U.Va. Sustainability to build a strong partnership between students and the University.