Shades of green: Emerson prepares for Earth day

by Alyssa Gocinski / Beacon Staff • April 16, 2014

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In an effort to make the Emerson campus more green, a vertical garden system was implemented, primarily on the 10th floor of Walker.
In an effort to make the Emerson campus more green, a vertical garden system was implemented, primarily on the 10th floor of Walker.

While Boston Common allows Emerson students to temporarily escape from the bustle of an urban campus and enter into a tranquil space, Earth Emerson aims to incorporate even more “green” into students’ lives.

Campus Sustainability Coordinator Eric Van Vlandren was presented with the idea of a rooftop garden this past fall, but due to safety and cost issues, he decided to create a vertical garden that better fit the confines of the campus.

“It wouldn’t be a garden in one place, but a garden in every place,” he said.

With the help of his student gardeners, Van Vlandren planted 17 small gardens in the windowsills of offices, primarily on the 10th floor of the Walker Building.

Students harvested the vegetables they grew from the planters and made a fresh salad for Vegan Food Fest, which was held  April 2 in the Bill Bordy Theatre. According to Van Vlandren, the ingredients included lettuce, spinach, kale, chives, and parsley.

As an end-of-the-year celebration, Van Vlandren and the student gardeners plan on throwing a salad party in the Walker Building with President M. Lee Pelton as an attendee.

“Our slogan will be ‘the most local salad you will ever eat’ — it was literally grown in this room,” Van Vlandren said.

Henry Krause, a sophomore communication studies major and student gardener, stressed the importance of eating local food as opposed to food imported from other countries due to the reduced environmental cost and carbon footprint.  

“Local food tastes better and is grown right in our backyard,” he said. “It’s as organic as it gets.”

Jesse Manfra, a junior visual and media arts major and student gardener, said he considers small steps like these to be very important and impactful, especially here at Emerson.

“With a lot of the majors offered at Emerson, sustainability usually isn’t on people’s minds,” he said. “You have to take a moment to step back and look at what you’re leaving behind.”

In preparation for Earth Day, Emerson’s EcoReps are gearing up to promote sustainability on campus and to teach easy ways by which we can all live a little more “green.”

EcoReps are students appointed to be advocates of sustainability and ecological awareness on campus; this is the first year the program has been implemented. They are all assigned to focus on different residence halls, but they collaborate together in carrying out projects.  

“The Green Finger,” a video montage promoting sustainability awareness, will be filmed on Earth Day, April 22, and is open for all Emerson students to be featured in.

According to Van Vlandren, the video will include people pressing their index fingers onto a green ink pad and then writing words of inspiration for our planet on the inside of their palms. The shots will focus on their pointer fingers and then reveal their messages when they open their hands.

The EVVY Awards will be producing a spotlight video of the project, which will essentially be a film about the making of “The Green Finger.”

EcoReps will also be attending the Sustainability unConference, where advocates of environmental sustainability will present their work and share both their accomplishments and challenges with fellow peers

Looking forward, Van Vlandren said he intends to create a series of videos featuring Emerson students, which will address the wide array of environmental issues our planet faces today. He said they will be patterned after and inspired by TED Talks, and he plans to begin production next year.