Earth Week encourages eco-friendly practices

Geneseo Environmental Organization hosted their annual Earth Week, promoting ecological consciousness and sustainable practices. At the Dumpster Dive, students sorted through garbage to see how much recycled waste they could salvage from the trash. (Annalee Bainnson/Assoc. Photo Editor)

The Geneseo Environmental Organization held their annual Dumpster Dive event on the MacVittie College Union’s patio to celebrate Earth Week on Tuesday April 18. Earth Day is officially on Sunday April 23.

The event advocated recycling and trash reduction to encourage students to examine on-campus waste.

Wearing protective gear, students sifted through bags of garbage collected from different buildings across campus. As they dug through the trash, participants removed recyclable materials: plastic, metal and compostable garbage—through which participants lessened the amount of waste by six pounds. 

“It’s a live, interactive art exhibit,” geography major junior Vanessa Haas said. “What we’re trying to do is make the campus more aware of what we throw out and how much of it can actually be recycled.”

Before sorting the garbage, team members weighed each bag with a hanging scale. Among the trash, they found not only recyclable and compostable items, but also food, half-finished coffees and Tupperware. 

“I’m really surprised by what we find in the garbage and how wasteful people are with certain things,” biology major sophomore Alison Rigg said. 

GEO will present their data from the Dumpster Dive on Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent Day. 

In addition to the Dumpster Dive, Geneseo Campus Activities Board and GEO hosted “ecospeaker” Dave Wann in Newton 201 to commemorate Earth Week on Wednesday April 19. During his address, Wann spoke on pursuing sustainability from an anthropological perspective. 

To setup the lecture, Wann began by performing an original song, titled, “The Monkey Song.” Foregrounding meaningful work, the song implored listeners to seek meaningful and enjoyable vocations, so as not to trap themselves in a metaphorical zoo.

“I urge you to find a work direction in life that fits and makes you feel good,” Wann said. “Otherwise, you will regret it—I know a lot of people in their 40s and 50s who are making some money, but it doesn’t resonate with them.”

Referencing Gandhi, Wann argued that speed, power and wealth have no relevance if applied in the wrong direction. In America, the culture has failed by getting itself preoccupied with a fixation on money, according to Wann. 

“As a culture, rather than focusing on health and wellness, we’ve focused on health and hell-ness,” Wann said. “A lot of anxiety has come out of trying to live up to things we’ve imagined, and all the addictions we have only guarantee ourselves dissatisfaction.”

To Wann, who works as a freelance writer, the solution to America’s cultural dilemma demands reprioritization on a revolutionary scale. For creating a sustainable future, Wann proposed adopting a system with well-earned social rewards, rather than allowing financial incentives to define status. 

In reconfiguring American culture, the definition of success must change to reflect a higher sense of purpose and belonging that transcends profit, according to Wann. Using agency as the vehicle for sustainability, Americans should adopt the role of active designers who decide their own culture. 

“Redefining success is the simplest path to saving the environment,” Wann said. “If we can each convince ourselves we’ve reached a point of content, then we can get away from the anxiety of comparison.”

To seek simple prosperity, Wann advocates a return to collective intuition that addresses timeless human needs and that allows for the differentiation between what he calls fake wealth and real wealth. While radical cultural change might seem daunting, Wann finds optimism in the actualization of nation ethics already achieved by Japan, Costa Rica and Denmark. 

With a full week of programming, Geneseo has marked Earth Week in an enlightening fashion. From waste to sustainability, the community continues on through April with a greater education on ecological consciousness.

Staff writer Sarah Buckser contributed to the writing of this article.

Hearty minestrone soup to slurp while studying

As we get closer to the end of the semester, college students tend to dread an onslaught of work. With the ingredients and appliances available on campus, however, you can make yourself this nutrient-dense minestrone soup—in just 10 minutes. 

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper (seeds removed), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

8 ounces green beans (stems trimmed), cut into 2-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/3 cup couscous

1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can (15.5 ounces) beans, drained and rinsed

Salt

Flat-leaf parsley leaves

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a three-quart microwave-safe dish, place oil, carrots, bell pepper, green beans and garlic; stir, cover and microwave on high for five minutes.

2. Add couscous, broth, tomato paste, navy beans, one cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Microwave on high until vegetables and couscous are tender—approximately five more minutes.

4. Remove from microwave and—when cooled—stir in parsley and sprinkle with cheese.

Carbon-free dating

Couples seeking to break free from a cycle of boring dates can celebrate Earth Day on Saturday April 22—or any day, really—with an eco-friendly, alternative date. 

In addition to strengthening your relationship, these dates allow for quality time that benefits the environment and brings you closer to nature.

When planning your next date, take advantage of the warm spring weather by foregrounding outdoor activities. To incorporate some environmental activism, perhaps volunteer at a local park for the afternoon. Either with local organizations or on your own, couples can serve the community’s ecological needs by removing litter and tidying up nature trails.

If spending the weekend on an environmental cleanup mission does not sound like your ideal date, then seize the opportunity through dating and exercising. For an enjoyable afternoon without a carbon footprint, lead your date on a bike tour around campus, down Main Street or through one of the local parks. 

Those seeking refuge from increasingly warm temperatures can settle in for a relaxing outdoor picnic. To incorporate some more excitement, consider making a picnic to keep in a backpack as a break from such larger activities as a hike. Keeping with the theme of environmentalism, store and transport the food in non-disposable containers that you can later wash and reuse.

Although many of the eco-friendly date ideas highlight daytime activities, you can continue your environmentalist romance into the night by stargazing. To compound the grandeur of the night sky, consider—if feasible—leaving your cell phones turned off and experiencing the date unplugged. 

For couples seeking environmentally-friendly relationships, try reconfiguring standard dates—like shared meals—from an ecologically conscious perspective. When preparing your next home-cooked dinner, propose a trip to the local co-op or farmer’s market for your ingredients. To go the extra conservationist mile, walk or bike to the market and purchase as many in-season foods as you can. 

Focusing on a connection to nature, most eco-friendly dates find their settings outdoors. If, however, you and your date would prefer a climate-controlled activity sheltered from the elements, you can still limit your relationship’s carbon footprint. For environmentalists seeking indoor dates, consider trips to a local museum, gallery or public library. 

While some more exuberant couples might pursue wholly green dates from the get-go, couples who want to ease into environmentalism can begin by incorporating small, eco-friendly changes individually. 

To commemorate Earth Day, suggest environmentally-friendly dates that will strengthen the bond you have not only with your significant other, but also with nature. Especially as the seasons change, eco-conscious dates distinguish themselves as one of the most effective ways to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. 

Beyond the personal enjoyment, these green date ideas offer larger environmental benefits that enable couples—on the smaller scale—to do their part.

“Hollywood Whitewashing” discussion opens dialogue on acting industry racism

Hosted by People United to Stop Hate, the “Hollywood Whitewashing” event highlighted the injustices that actors and actresses of color face in today’s contemporary industry. Senior Laura Brown, sophomore Shekiqua Reid and sophomore Meagan Centeno (pictured left to right) are a few members of PUSH who participated in the discussion. (Annalee Bainnson/Assoc. Photo Editor)

Students joined together in the MacVittie College Union to discuss the implications of whitewashing in popular media on Friday April 14. People United to Stop Hate organized the event after recent recognition of discrimination in the film industry. 

The event began with an educational presentation made by members of P.U.S.H. on the history of whitewashing in movies. Throughout the past 100 years, they showed how popular movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Othello have featured white actors in the roles of explicitly nonwhite characters. 

P.U.S.H. further showed how whitewashing is still an incredibly popular tactic. Scarlett Johansson was cast in the role of a Japanese character in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, the 2015 film Aloha cast Emma Stone as an ethnically Japanese and Hawaiian character and the 2013 movie The Lone Ranger cast Johnny Depp as the Comanche character Tonto. 

Whitewashing often takes the form of casting white actors as nonwhite characters, but the presenters also explained how it can take other forms. Movies that tell a story with nonwhite characters may create a white protagonist to attract white audiences. The original Godzilla movie, for example, used a white protagonist even though the story took place in Japan. 

After the presentation, attendees gathered in a circle to introduce themselves and to explain why they decided to come. Most of the 13 participants said that they had previously been interested in movies or specifically in Hollywood’s tendency to underrepresent characters of color. 

Following introductions, everyone discussed the causes and impacts of whitewashing. Some pointed toward the impression that movie makers give off: that audiences prefer to see white protagonists and would not pay to see movies with nonwhite protagonists. 

Other attendees thought that the tendency to whitewash characters came from “white normativity.” Since white characters are considered the norm, casting directors gravitate toward white actors. This process becomes a never-ending cycle where audiences only see fully-developed white characters and then think that only white actors can portray characters fully. 

Much of the discussion involved big Hollywood movies, but attendees also talked about firsthand experiences. Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio asked students whether they thought that a mostly white production of “The Wiz,” a historically black musical, put on by the Village of Geneseo counted as whitewashing. 

The students argued that it was whitewashing and that casting directors needed to make sure that they could have proper representation if they choose productions with nonwhite characters. 

Overall, the event spurred an interesting discussion about a prevalent issue in movies over the past hundred years. Attendees spent an hour and a half of their Friday afternoon talking about how consumers or artists can make changes to the industry to increase representation. 

There were some disagreements about the scope of the problem, but people generally found consensus. 

International relations junior Samira Salha described the event as an important dialogue about recent events.

“I thought that we’d talk about only some of the more recent movies, but we even talked about the history of whitewashing and I thought that was really important,” she said. “It’s been given a hashtag recently and people think they know about it from that, but it’s good to talk about how whitewashing has been around for a very long time.”

Salha also believed that the discussion was valuable because attendees offered some real solutions. 

“People mentioned funding schools that might have less representation and means to actually create directors of big Hollywood films,” she said. “It does always feel like this is a sort of dead-end conversation, but that’s definitely one way to make a change that I hadn’t thought of.”

International Night provides sample of different cultures

Hosted by Wyoming Hall, International Night provided themed games by country for students to play. It highlighted the different cultures that students come from. (Jenna Harbus/Staff Photographer)

Stepping into the MacVittie College Union was like stepping into international territory on the night of Friday April 14. In partnership with Geneseo Late Knight, Wyoming Hall—otherwise known as Global Housing—held their International Night. 

There, students teamed up to create their own fake nations—complete with slogans and national animals—and competed against rival nations in a series of party games monitored by the GLK staff. 

“International Night is about different people coming together to build new friendships, and to gain acquaintance with other cultures,” GLK staff member, anthropology major junior Darnisha Buckley said.  

The idea for the event came from GLK graduate assistant Molly Cole’s work with Allegany and Wyoming’s area coordinator.

“Wyoming is known as Global House, and we wanted to incorporate the residence hall for an event,” Cole said. “We had a lot of ideas, and we thought the most fun would be a challenge night with an international theme to give our best taste of other cultures.”

Students arriving at the event were encouraged to separate themselves from the groups that they had come with so that they were making groups with people that they didn’t know. When students entered the ballroom, they wrote their nation’s name, slogan and other various facts on a poster board with their group’s input. 

Some took their nation-building task more seriously than others—but having fun was the most important goal for the night. 

“We’re making a Shrek-related country,” biology major sophomore Josephine Kwan said.

“Our motto is ‘This is our swamp,’” English major senior David Sabol said. “Because we’re territorial.” 

After they created their nations, groups were lead to various parts of the Union, from the mailroom to the lounges. Each area had a task for the teams to complete. Their progress was recorded by GLK staff members, who collected points and tallied the scores to determine the nation with the most points who would win at the end of the night.

Activities ranged from “Minute to Win It” styled games—where participants had to tie a tissue box stuffed with ping pong balls around their waist and shake out as many pong balls as they could within a minute—to oversized board games. 

Each station was styled after a specific country. For example, the Italian activity was a life-sized Jenga set. Traditional Italian music played in the background to set the atmosphere, as students carefully pulled out and stacked the massive wooden slabs. 

The activities promoted teamwork within the groups—and were just plain fun.

“Our activity is for teambuilding,” psychology major sophomore and Allegany resident assistant Cara Dejesus said. “I’m looking forward to seeing people struggle.”

Even when teams struggled, they didn’t look as if they were. Teams eagerly completed each task and ran from one to the other, looking to rack up as many points as possible. The night concluded with international karaoke in Wyoming until 1:30 a.m.

No matter what nation you came from, International Night was a successful merger of cultures—real, and imaginary.