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UMD Fairly Excited About Sustainability

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No Recycled Content for the Spring 2012 Sustainability Fair

Bag monster
The bag monster lurks the halls of a previous UMD Sustainability Fair.
  Sweedish Oro, Togetherness Crown
  A Swedish Oro or "togetherness crown."

The eighth UMD Sustainability Fair kicks off later this month, bringing with it a surge of interest in sustainability on campus. The spring 2012 UMD Sustainability Fair’s theme is ‘International Sustainable Development and Connections to Duluth’ and runs Mon., Apr. 16-Thurs., Apr. 20. Hosted by the UMD Office of Sustainability, it will feature events aimed at educating participants about world events in the realm of sustainability, put on by numerous organizations from across campus and the Duluth community.

Fairs often feature wild and unique hands-on events to highlight the theme of the season. Brian Bluhm, sustainability assistant for the UMD Office of Sustainability, highlighted some of the innovative past attempts to teach participants about sustainability. “As part of the first fair, in fall 2008, a Psychology Group Dynamics class worked on a project to do with water conservation. One group created a model bathroom in Kirby Student Center, with a toilet and everything. Then, during the spring 2009 Fair, a group from Hartley Nature Center brought a ‘Renewable Energy Cart.’  Students were able to play electric guitars and keyboards that were powered by renewable sources attached to the cart; for example, a solar panel, wind turbine, and biofuel powered generator."

This year, the Sustainability Fair features a hands-on event sponsored by Art Education students from the class of Alison Aune. This community art making event will take place in the Kirby Bus Hub and is made possible by a UMD Strategic Initiative Grant. UMD students, faculty and staff will be joined by Duluth homeschool students making Swedish Oro (togetherness crowns). Recently, Oros have been created using recycled and reused materials. Also making an appearance is "the bag monster," a visual representation of the average consumer's plastic bag usage over the course of a year.

Hands-on displays aren’t the only way that UMD Sustainability drives home the importance of using resources responsibly, however. Sustainability fairs in the past have hosted keynote speakers such as Don Shelby, former WCCO TV anchor, who gave the presentation "The Most Important Story Since Journalism Began - Global Climate Change" last spring. Chris Paine, director of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and "Revenge of the Electric Car" spoke on campus during the fall 2010 fair.

This year’s Sustainability Fair schedule includes several presentations (listed on the right) which will take place in the library rotunda, as well as a theater presentation on Wed., Apr. 18 from a group calling themselves Eddy and Company. The group will perform “Bitter Tears:  Poaching of Endangered Primates in African Tropical Rainforests,” which educates participants about the issues of poaching, poverty, and deforestation in the tropical rainforest of western Africa. This presentation will also focus on a discussion of how to use theater, song and story-telling as teaching and engagement tools for educating about sustainability.

Featuring a plethora of engaging events and presentations organized by the UMD Office of Sustainability and other organizations around campus such as the UMD Office of Civic Engagement, UMD Facilities Management, and the Kirby Student Center staff, the eighth UMD Sustainability Fair is certain to have something for any sustainability-minded attendee.

Written by Zach Lunderberg, April 2012

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