The University of Maine celebrated Earth Week this year from April 18 through April 22. The university’s Green Campus Initiative (GCI) hosted several interactive events around campus, aiming to involve students in daily activities promoting their own wellbeing as well as the health and sustainability of the planet.
The end of Earth Week this year culminated with the release of Spire, the Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability.
The goal of Earth Week is to dedicate time to educating and engaging with individuals on issues revolving around sustainability and environmental decline. UMaine’s GCI helped create a week for UMaine students that furthers that goal.
Monday consisted of a craft and plant swap sponsored by the UMaine Green Team, where students were encouraged to bring their own planting and craft supplies to exchange for new ones. The primary goal was to assist the community in reducing their waste and consumption.
On Tuesday, GCI sponsored microgreen planting where students were invited to the University Mall to plant microgreens with all the necessary materials provided.
There were also activities during Earth Week that focused on the health and wellbeing of students, including the Fresh Check event on Wednesday, sponsored by the UMaine Student Wellness Resource Center. The purpose of this event was to increase awareness surrounding mental health and suicide prevention amongst college students.
Additionally, on Wednesday there were earth-inspired crafts sponsored by GCI and a pop-up shop to help reduce waste and overconsumption, courtesy of the Black Bear Exchange and UMaine Green Team. Students had the opportunity to attend the pop-up shop and exchange their old clothes for new ones.
GCI continued to add fun to environmental sustainability and education on Thursday by hosting a Maine recycling trivia-style event named Redemption Center Bottle Toss on the University Mall. On Thursday, the Feminist Collective also contributed to Earth Week by offering education about sustainable options for menstrual products, and the UMaine Campus Activities Board finished up the day with more sustainable crafts.
On Friday, Spire launched its sixth issue of its interdisciplinary journal. The goal of the journal is to bring together communities across Maine to further propel efforts toward creating environmental change and sustainable practices. The journal brings together people with various backgrounds to become a part of an ongoing global conversation regarding conservation and sustainability.
The artwork on the cover is by Rachel Murphy, the winner of the 2022 Spire art cover competition.
The journal features an array of different types of work including discussions and essays tackling pressing environmental issues, several poetry collections and nature-centered photography.
Johnny Sanchez is an artist whose work is featured in this year’s issue of Spire. Sanchez contributed his art series titled “Wild Bees on Flowering Plants.” This photojournalism article features four high resolution photographs of bees pollinating wild flowers.
These photos allow people to see the natural beauty that goes hand-in-hand with bees fulfilling their duties as pollinators. Being able to view the bees in this way allows people to gain an appreciation for the work done by the bees, supporting the idea that rather than being considered pests, bees should be seen as insects that play a crucial role in conservation and sustainability.
Another artist whose work appears in this year’s issue of Spire is Jeremy Sudzer, who contributed two poems to the journal.
The first poem is titled “Gardens During Rain.” This poem is written in a way that romanticizes a rain storm. The piece lets the reader reflect upon the same appreciation for rain that the artist had when they created the poem.
“Nature Consoles” is the name of Sudzer’s second poem in his collection. Reading this poem reflects the feeling of comfort that Sudzer finds in nature. The poem depicts nature as the remedy to despair, which increases its value in the eyes of the reader.
These poems provoke emotion around nature and the earth, making it an impactful addition to the journal.
To check out this year’s newly launched issue of Spire, the Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability, visit https://umaine.edu/spire/spire-2022-issue/. To view previously released issues of the journal you can visit https://umaine.edu/spire/issues/.