KOKOMO, Ind. – Taking care of the earth goes on — even during a global pandemic.
That’s why, when Indiana University Kokomo classes transitioned to remote instruction because of the Covid-19 virus, the Office of Sustainability moved the annual Sustainability Week, set for April 20 to April 25, to social media.
Leda Casey, senior lecturer in geology, who leads sustainability programming, said the goal is to reach people though Facebook and Instagram while they are at home, educating them about why sustainability is important, and encouraging them to get out outside.
“As we’re all in our homes, there’s something about getting outside and feeling in touch with nature that’s healing and helpful,” she said, noting that activities include taking and posting pictures in nature, and hugging a tree.
“We’re encouraging people to get outside and get back to that connection with nature,” she said. “That’s going to be therapeutic.”
She said while most people think of trees and water resources when they think of sustainability, it also applies to health issues.
“It’s about making sure we have resources for future generations,” she said. “If we have widespread viruses, and things like that, from a standpoint of community health, that’s not sustainable. We’re just getting into environmental issues that could arise with it, and how it impacts different populations, socioeconomic groups, differently. That’s a big theme in sustainability issues.
However, she added, Sustainability Week will stick with its traditional themes, of nature and wildlife, local organizations, Earth Day, art and literature, and Arbor Day.
Intern Josh Vogel said the biggest challenge was making Sustainability Week interactive. Each day, they have posts on both platforms. Monday, they encouraged people to post pictures of wildlife in their yards, and shared livestreams from zoos and aquariums.
Tuesday, they focused sustainability grant recipients, as well as local organizations dedicated to sustainability. Wednesday’s Earth Day posts asked people to share what they do at home to be environmentally friendly, like taking reusable totes to the grocery store instead of accepting a plastic or paper bag, gardening, and composting.
Thursday’s showcases the art and literature of Hoosier naturalist Gene Stratton Porter, while Friday features trees, and invites readers to share a picture of themselves hugging a tree.
Casey said while the event could not be held on campus as usual, it may draw a larger audience online. She anticipates future in-person Sustainability Weeks will also include online elements.
“This has challenged us to rise to the occasion and continue with our programming, and potentially helping us reach people we wouldn’t have reached with just on-campus activities,” she said.
To participate in Sustainability Week activities, find the Office of Sustainability on Facebook @sustainIUK or Instagram @IUKsustain.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.