The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shift in the university’s traditional week-long celebration to commemorate Earth Day this April. Associated Students and other entities on campus have collaborated to create a “Virtual Earth Month.” AS has announced online environmental workshops, digital tours of national parks and various internet-based webinars as some of the elements in CSUN’s Virtual Earth Month.
“Outdoor Adventures is hosting two virtual tours of national parks, and a webinar about ‘leave no trace’ outdoor ethics,” said Chris Whitesides, CSUN Outdoor Adventures Coordinator. “Our student instructors will lead people through Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park, using interactive 360-degree shots from Google Earth. Our ‘leave no trace’ outdoor ethics workshop will teach people how to use outdoor spaces more responsibly once quarantine is over. AS Productions and AS Sustainability are offering a ton of other super cool events to fill up the month.”
The outdoor ethics workshop was on April 14, and an accessible closed-captioned version will be posted to their website 48 hours after the event. The live virtual tour of Yellowstone will be held from 1-1:30 p.m. on April 23.
Other opportunities presented this month include “Trash Talkers,” a tutorial program on how to properly organize waste, “Right of Way,” an environmental justice audio tour presented by the Oviatt Library, and “Meatless Mondays,” which shares plant-based recipes to participate in and a recycling-themed art competition as part of the virtual AS Earth Fair.
The virtual experiences came to fruition through a partnership between the Institute for Sustainability, AS Sustainability, AS Productions, AS Outdoor Adventures, CSUN Food Pantry, CSUN Dining and the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing.
“I’m proud and excited in how all of our campus centers and institutes have come together to coordinate, complement, and support each other with virtual programming,” said Natale A. Zappia, Institute for Sustainability director. “I’m most excited about the Institute’s ‘Virtual Victory Garden’ series and seed distribution program, as well as our upcoming talk by the muralist Wayne Healy.”
Healy is a CSUN alumnus, who will give a speech April 21, on the importance of public art and the way it intersects with sustainability.
“Although in-person interactions are always the most effective, a virtual format can allow for audience participation that is actually more interactive since Zoom allows for direct chatting and one-to-one conversations,” Zappia said.
A calendar with specific dates and times of events can be downloaded here.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality records, Los Angeles has seen a significant decrease in greenhouse gas pollutants. The pandemic has caused air travel cancelations and fewer vehicles on the roads, and the EPA data shows how LA has had the most extensive time period of clean air since 1995.
The calendar year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Earth Day in 1970. While the international commemorations of mother nature may come in unconventional installments this year, some studies argue there is an environmental silver lining to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Editor’s Note at April 15, 2020: Earlier, we said the “Right of Way” was a podcast, but the Special Collections and Archives tells us it is an audio tour.