How can you save the planet? University of Iowa event to provide some ideas this Earth Day
From the Press Citizen:
It’s not to say that generations before them didn’t have their own problems, says the educator behind the The Green Room, but the stakes for university students today just seem higher.
Hopefully sooner rather than later, says Dave Gould, honors professor at the University of Iowa, someone will have to deal with impact of climate change and myriad other environmental problems.
“It’s kind of like my generation threw this giant party — this crazy, raging party — then turned to the neighbors and said, ‘Will you clean this up for us?’” Gould said. “In effect, that’s what we are doing to our young people.”
This Earth Day, though, the University of Iowa hopes to give the community at large some ideas for how to do their part.
The Green Room, a university honors program that is open to the public, will hold a special class this Earth Day. Students will share their ideas for how everyone can better practice sustainability. Avery Bang, CEO of Bridges to Prosperity, will be the keynote speaker for an event at the Englert Theater, and there will be a special piece by Amanda Gorman, the nation's first Youth Poet Laureate.
If you go
Special Earth Day edition of The Green Room, Act 1
- What: University of Iowa students will show off their ideas for "enriching the community."
- When: 1-2 p.m. on April 22
- Where: MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City
Special Earth Day edition of The Green Room, Act 2
- What: Avery Bang, CEO of Bridges to Prosperity, will answer questions, followed by music by soprano Jessica Pray and special piece by Amanda Gorman, the nation's first Youth Poet Laureate.
- When: 3-4 p.m. on April 22
- Where: MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City
The presentation with Bang will be more of a question-and-answer session, providing students the opportunity to pick Bang's brain on the subject of sustainability and empowering others to more sustainable lifestyles.
Bang is a University of Iowa graduate. While earning a Bachelor of Science in engineering and a Bachelor of Art in studio art, she founded a university chapter of Bridges to Prosperity. The nonprofit company builds pedestrian bridges in rural areas of the world.
As the nonprofit’s premise goes, the bridges have a ripple effect in the community. With the bridges, residents have access to local markets, farms, schools, health clinics and other key opportunities.
The Green Room, billed by the university as a "community-wide educational experiment," is meant to have a conversational, almost collaborative feel.
This Sunday will fit into that theme. Leading into Bang's presentation, students will present the ways they’ve been working toward sustainability at MERGE.
For sophomore Maddie Berg, that has meant crafting a database for businesses in the area that offer environmentally friendly clothing. She’s been contacting businesses in the community to help create a map of sustainable retailers for Flyover Fashion Fest.
She said the map includes businesses that provide locally made clothing, resale shops or vendors that sell sustainably made attire.
"Especially as a college student, I never really think about this; if I see a $3 tank top and a $10 tank top, I go for the cheaper one," she said. "But figuring out the process that shirt goes through and the amount of water it uses ... I was interested in what retail businesses in the downtown area provide sustainable products."
Having reached out to around 50 businesses, she said she's seen a part of Iowa City trying to be more environmentally friendly, and hopes to help foster that.
Art imitates environmental problems
Art students are also pitching in, applying the idea that "art imitates life" to environmental problems they have learned about in their class "Art on the Edge of a Landfill."
Professor Isabel Barbuzza, who started the class at the University of Iowa, said the class is about getting students to think about materials used in the art industry and about consumption in general.
Sculptures made in the class consist completely out of found materials and outright trash. They'll be on display around campus for The Green Room event.
When assembled, trash will spill out of a bright red dumpster made out of cardboard. The garbage will flow to a deconstructed whale made of more cardboard boxes as an homage to dead sperm whales that washed up on shores with plastic bags in their stomachs. Other sculptures include functioning chairs made out of construction site cardboard. A La-Z-Boy-style armchair and sleek rocking chair will come with a cardboard game controller, remote and Pabst Blue Ribbon can.
"Be a part of what's going in the world," student Donté Hayes said, explaining the premise of the sculpture. "When you see the news — instead of talking about it negatively in that chair — why don't you get up and do something about it?"
Another will feature trash pouring out of a bird's stomach. Kylie Gava, one of the students who helped with that project, said it wasn't hard to find the trash that will pour out; she just stopped and picked up the trash along her normal campus routes.
"I see it literally every day," she said. "When you walk through campus, you kind of notice the same Carmex tube has been at the same spot. It kind of marks your route."
Like Gava, Nicole Davis took the class to learn more about the industry and the environment. Even if it only moves the needle ever so slightly, she said she hopes their art can help bring a wider awareness of the subject.
"Just the negative effects of industry, consumption — universities weren't education people about it 30 years ago," she said. "For us, this is kind of a first step."
Students in Professor Isabel Barbuzza's University of Iowa art class have created sculptures out of garbage. The trash pictured above will flow out of a dumpster made out of cardboard. (Photo: Aimee Breaux / Press-Citizen)