This patch of soil

by Natalie DeFord and McKenzie Sumpter

community garden

With speakers, film-screenings, performances and more, this year’s Earth Day lasted a full week. April 18-25 was both Earth Week and Diversity Week at Pacific Lutheran University.

According to the PLU website, the two, week-long events packed into one provided, “events emphasizing the connections between environmental and social issues,” and also, “opportunities to think critically about the intersections of diversity, justice and sustainability.”

The week was kicked off Saturday April 18 with Habitat for Humanity’s Habitat Restoration Work Party and ended with a Garden Work Party in the PLU Community Garden the following Saturday.

The keynote speech was the Earth Day Lecture on Tuesday titled “This Patch of Soil: Race, Nature, and Stories of Future Belonging.”

This year’s lecturer was Carolyn Finney from the University of California Berkeley, who spoke to an audience of more than 200 students in the Scandinavian Cultural Center.

Finney focused on the intersection of race and the environment and begged the question: “Who gets to speak to issues of sustainability?”

Finney insisted upon the coexistence of social justice, science and creativity, saying that people should, “learn as much as we can and be creative with how we can do that.”

PLU sophomore Rhiannon Berg said she was especially inspired during an in-class questions and answers session with Finney earlier that day.

Berg said Finney shared a lot about her work and challenges she has faced.

“She was very eloquent but also conversational and fiery,” Berg said. “She was very energetic about her topic and also very passionate. She was super cool in the way she talked about taking a stand at Berkeley and how she’s taking charge with her life.”

On Wednesday, different perspectives were shared at Sounds of Solidarity. The event invited students to come and share their voices and emotions through art and short performances.

“I love seeing students express themselves through story telling and poetry,” sophomore Chris Boettcher said. “Earth and Diversity Week is needed because it encourages students to explore diversity, especially those who don’t regularly utilize on-campus resources, as well as take part in campus and community projects to improve our environment and emphasize the importance of the global community.”

Events on Thursday included a faculty panel discussion of environmentalism, sustainability and climate change. Also on Thursday was an event called “Challenge Day & If You Really Knew Me…”

Friday night featured a performance by a group called Dark Matter, who put on their “It Gets Bitter” show in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

PLU also held a screening of the film “Growing Cities” on Friday. The show was sponsored by the PLU Community Garden and the Grass Roots Environmental Action Now (GREAN) club.

“Earth Week is a really great week of the year when a lot of different groups and programs on campus join together to put on awesome events centered on the environment and social justice,” said junior Jenna Harmon, GREAN club Co-President.

Earth and Diversity week was made possible through the hard work of many students, including Harmon, as well as many campus and community organizations.

With this collaboration-filled week, much effort was put toward drawing the connections between social justice and sustainability. 🅼

Samantha Lund

Samantha Lund was the Editor in Chief at The Mast, a student-run newsroom within Pacific Lutheran University, in 2015-16. Lund created Mast Magazine in 2015 to give students a forum for long form news pieces. She could be found writing for Pacific Lutheran University's Marketing and Communication site plu.edu or interning at MOViN 92.9's morning talk show in Seattle. Other places to find her content include: Alaska Airlines blog and website, The News Tribune and The Bremerton Harald.

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