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UofL Green Scene: Climate Change Teach-In - be a climate justice super hero

by Lauren Hendricks, graduate student, communication last modified May 03, 2011 01:26 PM

(Editor’s Note: Green Scene is a monthly column on sustainable activities at UofL written by faculty, staff and students responsible for them.)

On March 31, Climate Justice Super Heroes invaded the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus to participate in the third annual Climate Change Teach-In. Students, faculty and staff, along with community members from local organizations, joined together to inform, inspire and educate others about the climate change crisis.

Student involvement was a hallmark of this year’s teach-in. Five student-developed and student-led outdoor stations focused on different themes-water, food, transportation, energy and air. Each station offered opportunities to learn about climate change and help create practical solutions through demonstrations, community outreach and hands-on activities.

The water station featured information on how to build a rain garden and a tap water challenge where participants won green prizes, including reusable water bottles. Also at this station, athletes from the men’s soccer team collaborated with members of the EDGE Outreach water purification team to teach about and provide advice on sustainable solutions for clean water. The team helped to install purification systems through EDGE in Brazil during spring break.

The food station offered cooking resources and free samples. UofL’s Health Promotions and Sodexo provided healthy samples of vegetarian falafels and apples with yogurt and local honey. These healthy and tasty food samples illustrated the advantages of healthy, local foods. Demonstrations on how to make homemade polenta pizza and local salsa provided helpful information and resulted in additional tasty treats. Information about local farmers markets, Kentucky Proud products, composting and community supported agriculture (CSA) was available to all who attended.

With support from Bike Couriers Bike Shop, the transportation station gave a bicycle repair and maintenance workshop. KAIRE provided a vehicle emissions simulator in the form of half of a Volkswagen Beetle. Two “passengers” could sit in the car and take a simulated journey, measuring their emissions. One of the producers of Louisville’s Green List acquainted participants with their publication and passed out copies of the latest issue.

At the energy station, teach-in participants were greeted with a pile of coal-one-half ton. This visual display helped to reinforce information about natural resource use. Event attendees learned more about fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions as well as renewable energy alternatives. When the clouds cleared and the sun appeared, it was time to demonstrate solar cooking.

At the air station, people had opportunities to calculate their carbon footprints and to understand the science behind climate change, historic climate trends and current CO2 concentrations. Additionally, a campus tree tour preview was offered, beginning from the oldest tree on campus. Teach-in participants also discussed how trees reduce energy needs and sequester carbon.

“I was thoroughly impressed with the creativity and depth of involvement of UofL students in this year’s teach-in,” said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives. “Their passion and energy was palpable and helped make this by far the most stimulating and action-oriented teach-in yet. Student leadership like that is exactly what UofL needs to take our campus sustainability initiatives to the next level.”

Many students, faculty, and staff who attended the event agreed that the university needs more events similar to the teach-in to raise awareness about climate change.

A special thanks to all the UofL students, faculty and staff who participated in this event. Your continued support makes a difference and your actions truly can result in change. Thank you for being Climate Justice Super Heroes. Through continued action, we can make heroic changes.

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