Earth Week events attempt to boost world awareness

By Gary Weishaar

A wide variety of events are planned for next week’s Earth Week celebration at NIU.

Earth Day is planned for Sunday, April 22, while Earth Week begins Monday, April 16. Earth Week is a worldwide event to focus people’s awareness of environmental issues and problems.

The first Earth Day held in 1970 was the largest public protest ever, according to Student Environmental Action Committee president Michael Baltasi.

This year’s Earth Day will feature celebrations on over 2,500 college campuses in the United States, along with 2,000 community events.

“We’ll focus on the grassroots,” Baltasi said, adding that “the biggest problem is lack of awareness.”

Baltasi said Earth Week will show the spectrum of the environmental movement, as well as the variety of problems that exist.

Daily rallies are scheduled at noon in the Martin Luther King Commons Mall. These rallies will include live music, petition drives, and letter-writing campaigns.

A series of afternoon lectures is also scheduled. NIU professors will lecture on environmental and related topics daily in the Holmes Student Center.

Special events are also planned for each day. Monday is Recycling Day, with Cans Across Campus being the featured event. Aluminum cans will be strung across campus in an effort to set a world record.

On Tuesday, Randy Hayes, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network, will be the featured speaker. The lecture will be held at 8 p.m. in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium. “This is a big honor,” Baltasi said, “Hayes is at the pinnacle of international action on rainforests.”

A Native American Indian speaker will be featured on Wednesday. Sam Keahna, program director of the American Indian Center of Chicago, will speak in Diversions Lounge at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday’s main event will be an environmental speaker forum. Speakers from Earth First!, Greenpeace, and Terra will speak at 6:00 p.m. in the HSC Capitol Room.

A panel discussion on nuclear energy is scheduled for Friday. The panelists will represent both sides of the nuclear energy spectrum. “We wanted to present information from both sides so people can attend and make up their own minds,” Baltasi said.

The main event Saturday will be a tree planting ceremony. Approximately 4,000 trees acquired from the Department of Conservation will be planted on campus.

The main celebration Sunday will feature a noon concert at the West Lagoon. All Earth Week events are free.