News and Recent Events

Earth Day Conference Reflection

Posted by Philip Ohlinger on April 24, 2014 at 4:05 PM

This past Tuesday, six students from Saint Norbert voyaged down to the Nelson Institute’s annual Earth Day Conference held at the beautiful Monona Terrace in Madison. This was Environmental Club’s second trip to the conference, and many of us who went last year were excited to return to the hallowed ground where Jane Goodall had once walked. The theme of this year’s conference was “Earth: to be determined: ecology, economy, and justice in a rapidly changing world.” This deliberately ambiguous title was chosen to demonstrate the unsettled nature of the time to come. Our future is replete with capacity for both cataclysm and correction, a truth elaborated upon by the award-winning science fiction author China Mieville. Perhaps the most impressive speaker of the day, Mieville discussed how the power of storytelling and imagination can aid our quest to create a more desirable future. But bad hope, like bad pessimism, Mieville warned, could hijack our future and steer it towards the dystopia we fear most. The speakers which followed examined the implications of living in the Anthropocene—a geologic epoch defined by human domination of the biosphere. In the afternoon, our group divided as each of us attended specialized workshops on particular themes, such as “Climate Change in the Great Lakes,” “Community-Building and Education through the Arts,” and “Buying Big, Buying Local.” Unfortunately, the keynote speaker for the conference, Rosario Dawson, fell ill at the last moment and was not in attendance. Despite this, the day was thought-provoking and often inspiring. We look forward to attending again next year!



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