Students, Community Support Earth Day

An array of bands and guest appearances by Mayor Rocky Anderson and author Terry Tempest Williams, among others, were the highlights of Earth Day 2002, celebrated yesterday outside of the Union.

The event, which ran from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m., was sponsored by Terra Firma, a student-run environmental awareness organization. Westminster College co sponsored the day’s festivities, donating $400 to the U’s Terra Firma chapter.

With more than a dozen non profit organizations volunteering time and labor, Earth Day 2002 drew significant interest.

One of the organizations was The Great Basin Earth Institute, which provides discussion courses focused on voluntary simplicity and sustainability.

The program was brought to the U by Joan Gregory, an employee in the health sciences library.

She describes voluntary simplicity as a change in lifestyle that allows people to enjoy life while having less of an impact on the environment.

Sustainability teaches consumers to look toward future generations when making choices so that children will live on a cleaner planet.

“For me, the Earth and the environment is the central focus of my life,” Gregory said, adding that she began a community recycling program out of her backyard.

She also said that she’d like to see Salt Lake County follow the initiative of Salt Lake City and implement a recycling program.

“There’s not as much awareness about the environment as there should be. I’d like to see our education system teach kids to take care of the Earth,” Gregory said.

Also with a booth at yesterday’s event, Andy Schoenberg is the co-founder of the Utah Population and Environment Coalition, a local activist group concerned about the growing population in the Wasatch Front.

“We’re concerned about what the population expansion in the Wasatch Front would do to the environment,” Schoenberg said, noting that by 2020, the population of the area could exceed 3 million.

“I think we really need to be concerned globally and locally about where humanity is going in terms of population conservation,” Schoenberg said.

Schoenberg, who constructs zero-emission vehicles as a hobby, hopes one day to strike a deal with a car manufacturer to produce his vehicles nationally. That, he says, will reduce pollution and allow for more people on the planet.

“If none of us polluted, we could have 12 billion people on the earth. We’re already exceeding the total carrying capacity of the Earth [now],” he said.

Though every band and organization donated its time to the festivities, Johnson said one of the best contributions came from Chartwell’s, the dining service at the U.

According to Johnson, Chartwell’s has failed to provide adequate vegetarian cuisine in the past. Yesterday, it created an exclusively vegan menu, a trend Johnson would like to see continue.

“They [Chartwell’s] were really nice to us. They catered the food to a Terra Firma meeting for us to taste.” Johnson said one of Terra Firma’s main goals for the Earth Day festivities was to provide a vegan menu for everyone in attendance.

That menu is what attracted Traci Oberg and her two children to campus yesterday.

“We came for the vegetable food, and the music is really great,” Oberg said. She also said that by hosting events like yesterday’s, more people would be made aware of social issues. “I don’t think most people know about Earth Day, and this is great way to bring it to light.”

The mayor and Williams both donated their time, with Terra Firma paying for Williams’s flight to the U with money out of their own pockets.

“We’ve had close contact with Rocky before in other things we’ve done,” said Heather Johnson, co-director of Terra Firma. “He’s a very environmental mayor; we love him.”

Johnson said that Terra Firma spread the word about Earth Day 2002 by networking.

“We just started to get the word out about what we wanted to do. People are really nice when you approach them with an issue,” she said.

She also said she was disappointed that Terra Firma didn’t receive more money, but that every organization was “jumping at the chance” to help. Terra Firma received $500 from the Associated Students of the University of Utah for Earth Day, an amount which the organization says wasn’t enough. Terra Firma wanted $2,000 for the event.

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