Every year on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day, a day set aside in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in a diligent effort to thrust environmental consciousness into the national spotlight. Since it’s beginning, Earth Day has expanded immensely and today 500 million people and national governments from 175 countries around the world come together on this day to celebrate and raise awareness for this beautiful, blue sphere that 6.65 million people call home.
West Virginia University honored Earth Day with, “A Little Change Makes a World of Difference,” Earth Day Forum which included presentations, panel discussions, and information booths at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy located on the University’s Evansdale Campus in Morgantown, WV. Faculty, staff, and students alike were invited to sit in on a unique presentation titled, “Convenient Truths” by Grady O’Rear, president of Green Advantage and the developer of EcoVillage in Loudoun County, VA. O’Rear discussed EcoVillage and its mission to “combine the ideal of people living together in community with the ideal of people living in harmony with the Earth and its inhabitants.” O’Rear spoke with admirable enthusiasm about EcoVillage and its multifaceted, environmentally-friendly way of living.
EcoVillage is similar to many American neighborhoods in many ways, and yet with closer observation and conversation, one can immediately spot major differences. For instance, an EcoVillage resident could easily be seen sharing his/her electric lawnmower with a fellow neighbor to reduce not only fuel consumption, but sound pollution as well. The houses constructed within EcoVillage’s 180 organically-managed acres are all constructed using recycled materials and the latest green technology. One home builder exclaimed that you could, “heat this home with a match!”
Joe Fisher, WVU associate vice president of facilities and services, Chris Haddox, visiting assistant professor in the Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, and Chris Fletcher, a Morgantown city planner made up the panelists for the discussion that immediately followed O’Rear’s presentation. Topics included, “A Greener WVU,” “Sustainable Design,” and, “A Greener Morgantown,” giving attendees the opportunity to learn what both WVU and the city of Morgantown are doing to make our area more green as well as ask questions and engage in conversation about this important issue.
The WVU Environmental Conservation Awareness Now (WE CAN) program was onsite to educate event attendees on recycling and conservation efforts across the University campus. WE CAN provides recycling bins at each of the University’s buildings; collects recyclable materials from tailgaters at Mountaineer Field; hosts the annual “Blue and Gold Mine Sale,” (a huge yard sale with items donated by students and employees to benefit the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties); Ecolympics, which encourages students living in residence halls to increase energy conservation and recycling efforts; and WVU E-Cycling Day (a collection of electronic devises such as computers, VCRs and CD players for recycling). For more information about WE CAN visit its Web site.
WVU President Mike Garrison is also highlighting Earth Day on his blog and is asking everyone to discuss ideas about “greening” the WVU campus. Also, WVU’s Sierra Student Coalition co-sponsored a presentation by Allan Tweddle, who has been working with former Vice President Al Gore to create a slide show based on the “Inconvenient Truth” documentary.
West Virginia University did a great job celebrating Earth Day as large groups of faculty, staff, and students came together and showed that one of a kind Mountaineer spirit for our environment both locally and abroad. The events listed and programs discussed here are just a few of the numerous activities and efforts that the University as a whole is doing to increase environmental health and awareness. We’ll always be Blue and Gold, but when it comes to cleaning up our environment, we have proven Mountaineers are excited to be Green too!