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The United Nations first established Earth Day as an annual celebration during the March equinox. In the 1970s, a U.S. senator chose April 22 as its official date. Leave it to Whitman students to expand the festivities into an entire week of environmental service projects and activities.

According to Karlis Rokpelnis '09, sustainability coordinator, the increasing scope of the celebration and number of activities scheduled for Earth Week are the primary changes from last year’s event.

Earth Earth Week Events
Monday, April 20th
Movie Screening: "Maquilapolis (City of Factories)," a film by Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre. Kimball, 7:00 PM
Tuesday, April 21st
"John Muir: Watch, Fight, Pray" - A one-man show by local Shakespearian actor Mark Raddatz, who takes on the persona of John Muir to perform excerpts from Muir’s nature writing and tell tales of his life. Olin 130, 7:00PM
Wednesday, April 22nd
5:00 PM, Drum Circle in the Amphitheater.
7:00 PM, Olin 130 "Save the Ales!" - Presentation and open discussion on the effects of global warming on the beer and wine industries; wine raffle included.
Thursday, April 23rd
Recycled Piñata-making Party @ La Casa. 7:00 PM
Friday, April 24th
Earth Week Potluck Dinner, 5:30 PM at the Outhouse. All are welcome.

“Earth Day is a long standing tradition at Whitman,” Rokpelnis said. “But there is a particular focus this year on cooperation between the campus environmental groups and other organizations.”

As part of this effort to expand local outreach, the Center for Community Service is combining with students from Walla Walla University (WWU) and Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) to host a service day on Sunday, Apr. 19, followed by the all campus celebration in the afternoon.

According to Lina Menard, Center for Community Service coordinator, volunteers from all three schools will team up to tackle projects like stream restoration at Garrison Creek, planting trees along the highway near the Sudbury Landfill and landscaping for senior citizens.

“The Earth Day celebration should be bigger and better than ever, but still have all the traditional Earth Day activities that Whitties have come to enjoy, like live music and tie-dying,” said Nat Clarke '11, co-president of Campus Greens, the group that is organizing the celebration.

“Last year Earth Day was a very festive occasion and I am sure it will be even more of a fest this year with all the extra people and food,” Rokpelnis said.

As in years past, Campus Greens is hosting the main Earth Day event on Ankeny Field on Sunday. The celebration will feature live music, a raffle and booths set up by campus and community groups, as well as local food vendors like the Taco Truck and His Garden bakery.

“We’re also stepping up the food factor,” said Clarke, adding that root beer floats made with organic vanilla ice cream or soy ice cream, pop corn, and cotton candy would all be available to attendees.

The musical line-up is set to include campus bands Red Light Blue Light and Dabbles in Bloom. The Walla Walla University Steel Drum Band will also be performing, a new addition that organizers say reflects the integration of the Whitman community with other local schools.

“We’re excited to feature a WWU band on the Whitman campus for the event—it’s not something I’ve ever seen,” said junior Tyler Harvey, co-president of Campus Greens with Clarke. “I’m really jazzed about the whole-cross campus event idea in general. I hope there will be as many WWUers attending as there are Whitties—they’ve certainly got us beat right now for the service day in the morning.”

Although the main celebration will take place on Sunday, Earth Week promises an array of eco-friendly opportunities for students, from a discussion of the effects of climate change on the beer and wine industry to a recycled piñata making party at La Casa, the Spanish Interest House.

In an event coordinated by Rokpelnis, Whitman employees will also be able to participate in Walla Walla’s “Get to Work Green Day” effort on April 24. Downtown businesses are offering discounts to participants who walk, bike, carpool or ride the bus to work instead of driving a personal vehicle.

“We’ve been working with a theme of inclusive, collaborative events for Earth Week,” Harvey said. “The idea behind the week is that everybody lives on the earth, so everybody’s involved.”