From Thursday, April 21, through Sunday, April 24, the Luther College Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC) celebrated Earth Day. Activities ranged from music and dancing, to a group scavenger hunt and tree planting. Additionally, student workers from the CSC spent time talking with students at tables, working towards getting more people involved in sustainability at Luther.
“A couple [of] years before this year, we didn’t just do Earth Day, we had a week full of activities called Climate Justice Week,” Sustainability Fellow Kim Chham (‘21) said. “Those years that I have participated in were pretty impactful, but last year we didn’t have as [much] participation. That’s why this year we are choosing to do [events] just on Earth Day and the weekend following.”
Though the shorter celebration may be new, CSC carried forward the Free Earth Day Community Lunch from last year. In April 2021, students were served lunch outside with a live band, an event appreciated by many due to COVID-19 restrictions and concerns with eating indoors. While the meal this year was planned to take place in Bentdahl Commons on Earth Day, rainy weather moved the event to the cafeteria. The free student lunch featured several plant-based options and live music from the Driftless Jazz Ensemble.
Another event being promoted by the sustainability team is the Mindful Move Out program, which the CSC has been tabling for in various places around campus throughout the past few weeks. Logan Olson (’22), a sustainability educator at the CSC, talked about the goals of the program and some of the different groups involved.
“One of my favorite events is our Move Out Mindfully Program,” Olson said. “I’ve been at the helm of that for a few years. [We will be] setting up donation rooms in all the dorms, working closely with county recycling, thrift stores in the area, all sorts of community partners, and on campus partners as well
Apart from Earth Day, the CSC is active in incorporating sustainability into all aspects of life at Luther. Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies and Director of the CSC Jon Jensen (’89) talked about some typical sustainability practices seen here at Luther on a daily basis.
“Our vision is that sustainability [is] infused into everything that we do,” Jensen said. “There are things that are much more visible, like renewable energy. The wind turbine up on the hill, [and] solar fields that are down below. Little things like water bottle fillers, or having recycling and composting available in basically all buildings. For us, it’s not just environmental sustainability, but sustainability also encompasses social justice. I like to think of it as sort of trying to make the world a better place.”
For students interested in minimizing their carbon footprint, there are many accessible ways to get involved in sustainability at Luther. Outside of Earth Day celebrations there are a variety of programs, lifestyles, and activities on campus, ranging from living situations like the Sustainability House, to trash pickups.
“We usually have a series of events [happening], so keep your eyes out,” Chham said. “Just come to something that sounds interesting to you. If you don’t think that sustainability is for you, I would just challenge students to try one [activity], and see how [they] feel. I believe that we can’t make any place sustainable if not everybody is doing their part. We all have the power to make Luther more sustainable, either environmentally or socially.”
If students would like to sign up for the newsletter, or read more about sustainability at Luther, they can visit the website for the Center for Sustainable Communities.