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Earth Month is Coming 

The Environmental Center join forces with COCC's Sustainability Committee

The Earth Day Parade will be held Saturday, April 23 through downtown Bend. Photo courtesy of The Environmental Center.

The Earth Day Parade will be held Saturday, April 23 through downtown Bend. Photo courtesy of The Environmental Center.

Central Oregon Community College formed its Sustainability Committee in 2011, and this year it joins with The Environmental Center to expand the educational opportunities of Earth Day, making a month of it. People in the community are invited to attend several events during the free month-long series called "SUSTAIN Central Oregon," from March 30 through April 28.

In a few weeks, Earth Day will be here, on Friday, April 22. That day and weekend, volunteers in Oregon will clean the beaches, bays, rivers and forests, plant trees and pull invasive weeds.

Prior to that, "SUSTAIN" launches next Wednesday at COCC's Bend Campus, with a keynote lecture by OSU-Cascades geologist Daniele McKay on March 30. McKay will address the long-range view of climate change in her lecture, "A Geologic Perspective on Climate Change." From there, the following weeks will each have a new environmental theme, with tours, films, lectures and workshops for people to learn more. All events are open to the public and the full schedule can be found online via The Environmental Center's homepage: envirocenter.org.

According to Sustainability Committee chairman, Owen Murphy, the goal is to educated and engage Central Oregon with regard to sustainability. He says sustainability is a big, broad and scary word to some people, but it is simply a way to refer to a holistic concept, encompassing environmental, economic and social factors. The Sustainability Committee was founded as a cross-discipline, multi-department volunteer effort. Murphy, professor of Health and Human Performance, leads the campus effort to embrace sustainable practices at COCC, and integrate sustainability in a cost-effective way, making operations simpler rather than more complex.

"In some people's minds, it is not enough to sustain," says Murphy. "We would prefer to thrive, but we have to start somewhere." He will be doing a pre/post talk before and after the film, "Inhabit," on Wednesday, April 6, from 6-8 p.m. at the Culinary Center. This documentary looks for answers to issues that are related to agriculture, economics and government.

The Environmental Center, co-sponsor of "SUSTAIN Central Oregon," is a non-profit organization geared toward education and advocacy, supporting sustainability initiatives of local governments and businesses. Its mission is to promote local action for a healthy future. The organization advises on a range of ways to save energy and reduce waste from beginner level to more advanced. For example, "Cold Wash Wednesdays," buying green energy, and even hosting zero waste events are all explained on its website.

Zero waste is a new goal of several U.S. cities including San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Seattle. On the COCC campus, Murphy says, "We're gradually making steps toward a sustainable campus and culture." Waste management is the subject of "Rethink Waste," the last lecture of the series on April 28, which will be held on the COCC Redmond Campus in the Technology Education Center.

Most events in the series are free of charge except the film, "Bikes versus Cars," at Old St. Francis on April 21, which will cost $5 (cash only). Of the admission cost, $3 will go to the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA).

Each week of the Earth month series explores a new theme, beginning with food and agriculture, then energy and alternative transportation, followed by water and closing with consumption and waste. Following the kick-off on March 30, a Spring Food and Farm Fair will be held on Saturday, April 2 on the COCC Bend campus. The food and agriculture part of the series includes lectures on seeds and biodiversity, garden planning and soil.

In mid-April, lectures, fairs and tours about energy and alternative transportation will give people a chance to to learn about solar power, green building, tiny houses, and "Your Personal Carbon Footprint." Two TechniArt Lighting Fairs will be held, one on the COCC Bend campus on April 13, and one on the COCC Redmond campus on April 14.

The fourth week of "SUSTAIN" explores water conservation and includes tours of the Bend Water Treatment Plant and the Redmond Water Treatment Plant, a lecture by Bend's water conservation manager Mike Buettner, and a discussion about "Redmond Water Usage and Habitat Restoration," led by Shon Rae of the Central Oregon Irrigation District.

The final week of the series devotes attention to consumption and waste with two lectures, a repair café workshop, a tour of the Knott Landfill and Recycling Center and the film "Trashed," showing at COCC Redmond and COCC Cascade Culinary Institute on April 28.

Earth Day and Parade

Friday, April 22 is Earth Day. Volunteer Connect is working with SOLVE to connect volunteers to projects in Central Oregon for the state's biggest environmental service day of the year. Opportunities and information are available via volunteerconnectnow.org for April 22-23.

On Saturday, April 23, the Earth Day Fair and Parade will be hosted by The Environmental Center, 16 NW Kansas Ave., Bend, from 11:30-3 p.m. Following the parade, there will be live music, art, food, interactive displays and activities for all ages.

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