Earth Day 2017

Portland State students and community members celebrated Earth Day 2017 on Friday, April 21, sharing their message and hopes for a global vision of environmental and climate literacy.

A diverse arrangement of clubs and organizations set up tables and canopied booths along the Park Blocks in front of Smith Memorial Student Union hoping to raise awareness for their causes and to encourage student participation.

“The main thing we’re trying to get across is to bring people together to appreciate native plants,” said Zak Weinstein, who was there with Laura Harris representing Native Plant Appreciation Week from April 22–29, 2017.

NPAW offers workshops, presentations, invasive-weed pulling excursions, berry seed open house, musical exploration, and hikes. NPAW is an affiliation of Native Plant Society of Oregon. 

“I’m hoping to engage some volunteers to come out and help with our restoration projects in our parks and natural areas,” explained Mary Verrillito, stewardship coordinator for the City of Portland Parks & Recreation.

PR Volunteers go out for scheduled events and work on programs such as evasive plant removal, trail maintenance, and protection of natural habitats. “We provide tools, gloves and the necessary instruction,” Verrilli said.

Health In Harmony, a global organization, is dedicated to integrating the health of people with the help of the planet. One of the group’s projects is saving national forests in Borneo, home to some of the last orangutan populations in the world.

Communications and outreach manager Darya Minovi discussed how the people of Borneo have been illegally logging in national parks. “Not because they want to but because it’s a very impoverished area,” Minovi explained.

In Borneo, Health in Harmony has provided education in organic farming and health benefit programs. “The number of loggers in ten years has gone from over 1300 households to less than 200 loggers today,” Minovi explained. 

The people who make it possible for food to be on the table are “farm workers who get paid thirty-three cents a pound,” explained Genaro Nava. “That means they’ve got to work twelve to fourteen hours just to make any money.” Nava participated at this year’s Earth Day event to represent Friends of Seasonal and Service Workers, a local nonprofit organization.

“Kids 12, 13, and 14 years old are working in the fields,” Nava said. “A lot of those kids will never get an education. At Friends of Seasonal and Service Workers, we believe we can make a difference.” 

Promoting compassion, love and gentle revolution is the philosophy of artist Remedios Rapoport. “I realized all my art was working toward people wanting to make the world a better place,” said Rapoport, who was giving away free “Tax the Rich, End War, Live Love” posters along with her “Gentle Revolution Manifesto.” 

Sacred Waters Fish Company was also present for Earth Day, a group that purchases local salmon from native Oregon tribe members on the Columbia River and practice fish processing in a “good and respectful way.”

“There are rules about catching fish,” said SWFC member Hugh Ahnapook. “Before you even fish, you sing a song and do a ceremony. And you pray for the fish and thank the creator.” 

PSU’s Agri-Tech Club advocated the group’s mission statement: “to unite students of all backgrounds and disciplines in the common interest of advancing sustainable food production and agricultural technologies.”

PSU students Ryan Crist and Greg Sakradse explained designing and building systems with tanks for edible or ornamental fish and incorporating water systems that circulate through plant boxes.

The plants, edible or ornamental, are first fertilized and then the water is filtered and cycled back into the fish tanks. Tilapia fish are especially tasty when grown in these systems.

Agri-Tech Club welcomes all levels of expertise and interest in helping to develop solutions to modern food security issues. Meetings are 4–6 p.m. every Thursday in room 510 of the Engineering Building.