Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This year, Earthlust’s GreenMarch annual campaign seeks to demonstrate the intersections between environmental issues and other social justice movements. This theme broadens the focus from last year’s campaign, which prescribed choices that individuals could make to reduce their carbon footprint as a way of promoting sustainability. However, the mission statement still emphasizes the omnipresence of the environment in our daily lives.
Hannah Jones ’12, who is on Earthlust’s subcommittee says, “This year, as a group, Earthlust has become more diverse in its actions and focus, and we decided that the subcommittee that we formed for GreenMarch put sustainability in a framework that is more widely acceptable, and had to do with human issues as well.” Earthlust has been planning GreenMarch since the beginning of February and aimed for a diversity of events that ranged from protests against mountain top removal to discussions on Chester’s environmental issues.
To “foster cross-collaboration and dialogue between diverse student groups and academic disciplines,” as Jones said, and to place environmental issues within the context of other social movements, Earthlust has been coordinating with other campus groups, including the Women’s Resource Center, the Department of Environmental Studies, the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Haverford’s environmental student group, and Bike Share of Philadelphia.
Hilary Hamilton ’12, one of Earthlust’s leaders, describes this month-long series of events as an intense, concentrated push of environmental activism to get people excited about helping the environment. She elaborates, “We hope that GreenMarch shows the breadth of things involved in environmental activism and this month is an education tool to show all the interesting things you can get involved in.”
Hamilton expressed enthusiasm about a variety of events in GreenMarch, especially those involving the intersection of the environment and politics. Besides weekly film screening, several lectures, and a Sharples takeover, Earthlust is planning to host protests against EPA and PNC bank, a State Representative debate, and a panel on Chester’s environmental issues.
Last weekend, Earthlust hosted two Phildadelphia protests against the removal of mountaintops for coal mines. In the first protest at the International Flower Show in Philadelphia, Earthlust worked with the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQUATE) and Swarthmore Professor George Lakey to protest against PNC Bank, a sponsor of the Flower Show, and the company’s funding of mountaintop removal.
On Monday, the second protest was outside EPA’s Philadelphia offices, one of two locations where the EPA writes permits for the removal of mountaintops. Jones explains, “We worked with the Rainforest Action Network and various other groups to make some noise about this issue. Our two goals were to get our letter sent to head of the committee that approves these permits and to meet with the head of that committee.” Earthlust is scheduled to meet with EPA later this month.
Earthlust is also hosting a debate with the Democratic, Republican, and Independent State Representative candidates. The group is organizing a panel to discuss environmental issues in Chester. According to Katherine Cushman ’12, another Earthlust leader, Swarthmore’s local trash is transported to Chester where it is incinerated and pollutes the air surrounding the city. The panel will raise issues about the impacts and the type of action that can address them. Earthlust also plans on holding a tour of a composting facility to encourage less waste in the Swarthmore community.
Earthlust will publish daily tips on how Swarthmore students can make efforts towards helping the environment. Kat Clark ’12, the Earthlust member in charge of researching and writing these tips, compiles a list of questions people may ask Earthlust about sustainability, recycling, etc. For instance, one of the major themes of these daily tips is “What can I recycle at Swarthmore?” Clark explains that recyclable materials can range from paper and plastic to car batteries. Cushman elaborates, “These daily tips are an opportunity for people to see how they can make small changes in their lifestyle, and these changes can make a difference to the environment.”
Leaders of Earthlust remain optimistic about GreenMarch despite the challenge of receiving a high turnout for each individual event. Cushman said, “After we did GreenMarch last year, we got a lot of positive feedback because GreenMarch is something people will be thinking about for a whole month.”