On a sunny Friday, April 21, many tents and tables lined Portland State’s park blocks to celebrate Earth Day. Globally, Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22. It is a day to spread awareness and educate people about what it means to protect the environment, and to showcase how small changes in one’s own life can affect changes on the big scale. Earth Day is recognized around the world as a time to honor the Earth for supporting our lives and to celebrate and cultivate the concept of peace. Among the Earth Day festival at Portland State were many student groups, organizations, and artists related to sustainability, healthcare, ecology, and the relations between the environment and the actions we take.
Organizations offering education or volunteer work such as The City Repair Project, The Native Plant Society of Oregon, NW Veg, Portland Parks & Rec, Mt. Hood Bark, PSU’s Student Sustainability Center, and more attended the event. There was also a sustainable used clothing swap stand, a table offering education about the sustainability of veganism, and a chance to receive free pizza—with vegan options available. Some tents were selling sustainable art and Native art as well, such as prints, woodcuts, beaded jewelry, weaved cloth bags, and more.
- The City Repair Project is a local, community-driven social services organization that collaborates with diverse communities, other organizations, and local government to bring about their vision of “a thriving urban culture that values community, diversity, and ecology.” Their mission is to “foster thriving, inclusive, and sustainable communities through the creative reclamation of public space.” Some of the group’s activities include gardening, public art, music acts, organic community meals, sustainable earthen building, neighborhood beautification, educational presentations, and more. To learn more, The City Repair Project’s website is www.CityRepair.org.
- The Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO) is a local organization that is “dedicated to the enjoyment, conservation, and study of Oregon’s native plants and habitats.” Founded in 1961, NPSO is a group that visits wild places in Oregon to enjoy, study, and conserve native vegetation. NPSO offers monthly presentations, workshops, and field trips. In the 80’s, NPSO helped to create the Endangered Species Act of Oregon. Their website is www.NPSOregon.org.
- The NW Veg Project is a local organization that spreads awareness and encourages plant-based choices in eating and lifestyle to create a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate world. NW Veg offers educational programs and classes about vegan cooking, vegan nutrition, health, and environmental and animal welfare. They also sponsor many social activities in the community, such as monthly plant based potlucks and holiday celebrations. NW Veg’s website is www.NWVeg.org.
- Portland Parks & Recreation had a table at the event where they discussed their Volunteer Stewardship Program. Their mission is to “work with volunteers of all ages to restore Portland’s parks, natural areas, plant and animal habitats, and water quality.” Portland Parks & Recreation manages over 90 green spaces throughout the city. Volunteers with Portland Parks & Recreation get to learn about and create habitats for local plant and animal life, connect with and improve the community, remove invasive plants and plant native vegetation, maintain trails, collect litter, and more. Their website for volunteering is www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/stewardship.
- Mt. Hood Bark is a local organization that defends and restores the natural plant and animal life of Mt. Hood and surrounding natural areas. Mt. Hood Bark works to educate, unite, and empower Portlanders to help protect and repair Mt. Hood National Forest. All their events and hikes are free and open to all ages. Their website is www.bark-out.org.
- PSU’s Student Sustainability Center is an organization right here on campus that students can get involved with that works to promote environmentalism and sustainability. PSU’s Sustainability Volunteer Program offers opportunities to work with bees, cultural sustainability, campus gardens, marketing and social media, and waste reduction. Leadership opportunities are also available. The Sustainability Center also organizes field trips, events, and offers a space to develop professional skills. A seed library can be found at the Sustainability Center, offering free seeds to plant and grow. The Sustainability Center is located in Suite M104 of SMSU. To learn more about PSU’s Sustainability Center, their website is www.go.pdx.edu/ssc.
Some of the other organizations that were at PSU’s festival included Nike Biketown, Planned Parenthood, Health in Harmony, Peace Corps, Pacific Fishery Management, Wild Food Adventures, The Green Living Journal, 5th Ave Cinema, The PSU Bikehub, Protect Wild Utah, Farm Animal Rights Movement, and PGE. This year’s Earth Day festival at PSU drew large crowds of students and community members. Awareness was spread and passion was ignited about environmentalism, humanitarianism, and animal rights alike. In celebration of Earth Day, make sure you get a chance to plant a tree or some flowers, read up about the benefits of plant-based diets, or simply spend a sunny afternoon admiring the natural beauty of our planet.