The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Photo Series: Earthapalooza

Trinity Rietmann
Succulent planting

On Friday, April 26, Earthapalooza brought together numerous different clubs and organizations in the Student Union to connect with students about sustainability.

Some were community groups such as Friends of the Marsh and the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, but others were student organizations like the Peer Health Advocates and Student Nutrition Association. In total, around 21 different groups were represented at the event.

“The Earthapalooza mission is to educate, inspire and connect people,” said Sustainability Director Grace Lopez Johnson (She/Her). “We want to educate people on the different sustainable opportunities happening in their local area that they can get connected with… because building community relationships both at school and outside of school is really important for the wellbeing of communities,” said Lopez Johnson.

According to Lopez Johnson, sustainability is all about the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and the Earth as a whole.

“Sustainability affects every sector of life. It’s really important to me that I’m advocating not only for the Earth and all of the life on Earth, but also for sustainable solutions to problems we’re already facing,” she said. “There’s a lot of injustice in the world right now, and there’s a lot of sustainable solutions that help to mitigate those problems.”

For others, sustainability relates to personal changes in one’s life.

“Sustainability means that you’re making choices within your life to help lead to a more sustainable environment,” said UWL Student Elena Knapp (she/her). “It’s trying to cut down on your waste, walking when you can, using your reusable bags, and spending your money at places that support sustainability and the environment.”

The Students for Sustainability club is a great place to start if you are interested in getting involved with sustainability or just learning more about it.

“We’re an organization here on campus that teaches about sustainability,” said Anika Whittington (she/her) who was representing Students for Sustainability at Earthapalooza. “We take field trips with students to show them sustainability friendly places in the community, and we help with projects, too. We’ve been ecobricking, so that’s a way to reuse waste and keep it out of landfills.”

Ecobricking is a process where plastic bottles are packed with clean used plastic. The ecobricks keep plastic from being degraded into microplastics and can be repurposed in many different ways, including building furniture.

Students for Sustainability Representative Blythe Pollard (they/them) mentioned the organization also does a lot of peer education.

“We’ve had some students give presentations about fast fashion and sea star wasting disease, so that’s been very interesting. We also go out into the community quite a bit, and we’ve helped out with community gardens,” said Pollard.

One of those community gardens was featured at Earthapalooza. Kane Street Community Garden is located on the Northside of La Crosse, and they grow and give away around 30,000 pounds of free produce each year. They support healthy eating and sustainability related to food growth.

“We want a really good garden, but the main goal is to grow for people in healthy and sustainable ways,” said Kane Street Community Garden Representative Aaron Stankewitz (he/him). “Almost everything we take out, we put back in. If we ever have things that are going bad, we compost it in the garden, so that becomes our soil. Everything is a continual cycle. No waste, that’s the main goal.”

Volunteers are always welcome at the Kane Street Community Garden, but anyone can come pick up food, regardless of whether or not they volunteer their time. The produce is distributed right after it is harvested and can be picked up on Mondays and Thursdays at 4:30 P.M. and Saturdays at 11:30 A.M.

Drift Cycle also had a booth at Earthapalooza. They are a nonprofit bike share service in La Crosse, and they advocate for the use of bikes as a sustainable mode of transportation.

“I’m really proud to be a part of Drift Cycle because last year our users biked so much that we prevented 12,000 pounds of carbon emissions,” said Drift Cycle Marketing and Event Planning Intern Katie Maliszewski (she/her). “We’re trying to promote sustainable transportation, so basically just driving less and biking more.”

There are 15 Drift Cycle stations in the area, including two on the UWL campus. Students can ride for half price.

Earthapalooza also featured booths where students could repot succulents, plant seeds, and even try some homemade pickles.

“I think the pickling booth was really good,” said UWL Student Logan McCoi (he/him). “They had a lot of great information about ways to save your food and play a part in living a sustainable lifestyle through eating.”

Another favorite stop was student artist Heather McKiernan (she/her). McKiernan was selling hats and prints of her work she created while abroad over the summer.

“I didn’t have any paints at all, so I took flower petals and rubbed them on the page to get some pigment, and then I would draw over them,” said McKiernan.

This resulted in pages of her journal being covered in artwork, which she then converted into prints to sell.

“I think Heather’s pictures and drawings were really cool,” said UWL Student Sarah Dollack (she/her). “They’re just fun to look at, and she’s so talented.”

McKiernan also does film photography and uses her photos in scrapbooks and collages. Her collages include reused materials such as magazines from antique stores or gift wrap that she receives, blending art and sustainability.

“It [Sustainability] is about using what you have to the fullest,” said McKiernan.

In some cases, sustainability can be a heavy topic to discuss, but Earthapalooza brought fun and positivity into the concept.

“We really need these positive experiences surrounding sustainability because it can be a very difficult thing to feel like we’re making progress towards,” said Lopez Johnson. “Making it more fun and exciting to people and making it something that they feel they can be a part of is really important. It’s a beautiful thing to help collaborate for the goal of working towards a healthy Earth.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Trinity Rietmann
Trinity Rietmann, Photojournalist
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: she/her/hers
  • Hometown: Baraboo
  • Major: Art Education
  • Minor: Photography and Recreation Management
  • Other Campus Involvement: Women's Rugby Team
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Become an art teacher
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Hiking at the Bluffs
Donate to The Racquet Press

Comments (0)

All The Racquet Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *