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Earth Day at Hampshire College this year was lively, strategical, and filled with a warm April sun and breeze. Just the day prior, Hampshire was highlighted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in High Education (AASHE) for “advancing sustainability on a local and global front.” We were one of only 11 institutions to be featured. What a way to begin the Earth Day festivities.
Dineen O’Rourke 13F
Earth Day began on Wednesday morning, April 22, with a Writing About the Environment workshop by Andrew Revkin of the New York Times, who has been writing the blog Dot Earth for seven years and covering environmental issues in the Times for 14 years. Revkin spoke of his adventures in environmental journalism, covering stories from the North Pole to ocean depths, to the Amazon rainforest. He has written for over twenty years about climate change, and recently finds himself writing more and more about how people are being affected by this global phenomenon, and how they’re responding to it.
After an incredibly informative Q&A, Revkin broke out his guitar. “Out of all the words I’ve written,” he said, “there are some just better sung.” He played a wonderful tune called Liberated Carbon, about how we’ve become dependent on fossil fuels. Oh, and he also happened to mention that he was neighbors with Pete Seeger in the Hudson Valley and they regularly played music together. The event was graciously hosted by Climate Justice League and the Food, Farm, and Sustainability Initiative and of course, as with any Hampshire event, was completed with fresh apple cider donuts from Atkins Farm.
Soon after, the Hampshire community spoke of the new R.W Kern Center that is currently being built, a project that is taking on the “Living Building Challenge” to create a completely self-sustaining building on campus, a zero-net water, waste, and energy building. There are only six certified Living Buildings in the world, and plans are for our own building to join them.
The Center will function as a new community space for campus, a central location for all students, faculty, and staff to gather. It will house Admissions, a coffee shop, an art gallery, and much more. It is scheduled to be completed this coming January.
That afternoon the main lecture hall was filled with students, faculty, staff, and community members for a Regional Food Systems Strategies Panel. A collection of great minds on local and sustainable food and agriculture spoke to the crowd, including David Orr from the Oberlin Project, Andy Kendall of the Kendall Foundation, and Margaret Christie of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.
The panel discussed Hampshire’s Local Food Challenge, which aims to get nearly 100 percent of food served on campus from within a 150-mile radius. Our dining hall already serves more than 30 percent local food, with around 15 percent of that from our own farm.
The festivities concluded the next morning, April 23, with a pancake breakfast from the Mixed Nuts student co-op and the Farm Center. We drenched maple syrup from Hampshire’s trees over homemade all-local pancakes made by Jim Lachance, the manager of dining services, and munched in the sun while students planted new beds of flowers around the Roos-Rohde House. It was quite a wonderful way to start the morning of Earth Day “round two” (because every day is Earth Day, right?). Whether it’s a holiday or not, Hampshire folks are always ready to eat lots of local food and come together as a community around environmental issues and advancements — just another day spent being grateful for the Earth.
Photo of Hampshire Professor of Peace and World Security Studies Michael Klare and environmentalist David Orr at R.W. Kern Center construction site.