April 2024 Earth Week Events Hosted by Skyline College Learning Commons

In honor of Earth Week, Skyline College students, staff, and faculty paid homage to our Environment and the Planet by participating in various open events and activities that raised awareness of and elevated our mutual love and respect for our World. Two events hosted by the Learning Commons during Earth Week were a nice, calming “Spring Nature Walk” outdoors and a very popular Art and poetry event in the Library called “Dear Human at the Edge of Time: Poems on Climate Change in the United States.”

Despite some cold coastal weather, a group of Skyline students could take a little time out of their busy schedules to participate in a gentle “Spring Nature Walk” around campus. Led by Maria Rosaria, a Peer Mentor Program representative, the students were excited by and curious about their local environment as they walked and talked in kindness together.

Some expressed feelings of stress due to challenging assignments. All agreed that the walk helped them to “catch their breath” and take a break from their everyday concerns. The Nature Walk was also an opportunity for the group to discuss how to make Planet Earth more sustainable. “We were able to collect some waste along the way and talk a little about how we can be sustainable for the planet,” said Maria Rosaria. All are encouraged to take time to walk in nature and reflect on our roles as caregivers to the world we live in. Maria says, “I hope we can do more de-stress walking together in the future!”

On April 23 the Skyline Library hosted an Art & Poetry event in honor and celebration of Earth Week, 2024. “Dear Human at the Edge of Time: Poems on Climate Change in the United States” is a national project that encourages meaningful discourse for environmentalism through the shared disciplines of Science and Art.

Co-facilitated by Dr. Pia Walawalkar and Prof. Rob Williams, the event featured Aileen Cassinetto, former poet laureate of San Mateo County and one of the co-editors of the project. Dr. Walawalkar introduced the event, celebrating Earth Week, National Poetry Month, and the convergence of various disciplines on this crucial topic. At the same time, Prof. Rob Williams read an excerpt from “When We Fight, We Win,” highlighting how climate change disproportionally affects marginalized people. Aileen Cassinetto provided background on the project, explaining its collaborative nature among scientists, poets, and artists, and began by sharing the community poem titled Dear Human Poem for Earth Day 2024.

Subsequently, students, faculty, Aileen, and community members took turns reading their poetry or sharing their work. Student and activist Latifa Nansubuga delivered an impassioned speech about H200, a youth-led organization dedicated to addressing the environmental crisis inherited by young people worldwide.

STEM student Sebastan Sutjitpo shared a video he created, “These are Neurons,” which ingeniously combined science, art, and music to explain the human experience of neurons, with lyrics he wrote and sang to the music of Handel’s “Hallelujah.”

Among other readers were New York-based poet Tál Caritas, students including Nikki Popielak, Noorjahan Raman, and Jonnald Hernandez, and Chemistry faculty Dr. Susanne Schubert. Prof. Williams also read poems penned by his students. Dr. Pia Walawalkar concluded the event by evoking the haunting imagery of the orange skies that engulfed San Francisco on September 9, 2020, serving as a grim reminder of the planet’s peril. She read Jordan Steven Sher’s poem “Fade to Orange, to Gray, to Black” from the anthology Dear Human: At the Edge of Time before guiding participants in writing the Skyline College Earth Week Community Poem.

In addition to poetry, posters created by Prof. Williams’ students on various topics related to activism and social issues were displayed alongside artwork by faculty members Andrea Fuentes and Vincent Kang. Special thanks were extended to Library Support Specialist Saul Milan and student assistants Veronica Johnson and Harry Tun for creating beautiful “PoeTree” and Earth Week displays in the library.

Bringing together students, faculty, staff, and community members across disciplines and creative arts, “Dear Human at the Edge of Time” was a special gift for our Skyline Community. The room was brimming with heartfelt passion and energy, from aspiring to reach the stars to grappling with our digital footprint in the metaverse, standing firm in the face of adversity, and showering respect upon Mother Earth. The voices heard and seen on April 23 in our library were a beautiful and powerful force to be proud of.

Additional information and photos from the event are available by contacting Dr Pia Walawalkar (walawalkars@smccd.edu).

Below are links that provide additional information on the national project.

Dear Human (poetry anthology:) http://bit.ly/dearhumanbook

Dear Human website: https://dearhuman.poetsforscience.org

Aileen Cassinetto: https://www.smcgov.org/csw/profile/aileen-cassinetto

By Jenny Vega, Adjunct Librarian & Dr. Pia Walawalkar, Outreach and Equity Librarian

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