On Thursday, the 22nd of April was Earth Day, the day in the year which reminds us about the beauty but also the fragility of our planet and its nature. We, the Eleanor Green Office, decided to make the whole week the UCR sustainability week.

The sustainability week is one week each semester during which we strive to educate, connect, and create change. Of course, the current situation is also affecting us. Many events we have done in the past, as for example clothing exchanges, cannot happen at the moment. Thus, we had to come up with alternative events that the student community would be excited to participate in. Our goal was for people to get creative again and become more mindful of the nature that surrounds us, the nature that depends on us all to stay habitable and healthy.

With this in mind, we created the schedule for the week and of course, many things didn’t go as planned.

The event on Monday, organized by HZ and others, unfortunately, got canceled.

On Tuesday we invited Helena Fierle to give an online yoga class. She led us through a practice in which we reconnected to nature and took some time for ourselves. Helena and we agree that we must take care of ourselves to be able to sustainably fight for our planet.

On Wednesday, Lisa knocked on my door laughing so hard, she could barely speak. ´She let me know that the barrel we ordered a few weeks prior had arrived. Much bigger and heavier than expected, it was now sitting in front of the Koestraat student housing, waiting to be transported to the Anna parking lot where we are setting up a school garden. We pushed and pulled, broke a trolley, and moved the barrel about ten meters in half an hour. Then, finally, we got a feeling for how to move a 100-kilo barrel, and with the help of Dorus, a second-semester student, and some construction workers we managed to move the barrel to the Anna parking lot in less than two hours. In the meantime, some student volunteers spent an afternoon cleaning up one of the nearby beaches using our new clean-up gear. As a thank you, the volunteers and Dorus got a free drink at Elliot.

On Thursday, we were supposed to have a cooking workshop in cooperation with the cooking society. The plan was to create dishes with kelp from the local sea. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to postpone the event.

On Friday, we had our first open board meeting this semester (we are looking for new board members) and collaborated with RAW for an online event called Sustainable Alcoholic Artists. We got together on zoom and everybody drew what their hopes are for the future of the planet while having a drink. This event is part of a bigger project with the working title hopeful art. We have students from elementary schools and residents of elderly homes, some local artists, and UCR students draw their hopes for the future. The artworks will be shown in an online exhibition and the participants exchange what they have created to share their hopes and dreams.

We could not have hoped for much more during these times. Since we were not allowed to do activities in person, we could only offer more screen time. Considering this we had quite a few students participating. However, this week also showed us that we have to increase our visibility to get more students and faculty involved in our efforts to make UCR a sustainable and future-proof school.

Emilia Koen, Student Projects and Academics Manager at Eleanor Green Office