Earth Week 2010 is coming!

April 5, 2010

Taking inspiration from the Asian carp invasion, water is the focus of this year’s Earth Week festivities. We hope that the events will foster awareness of water and personal actions, as well as probe policy questions while providing background from a humanities perspective. A number of events, starting Tuesday April 6th, will lead up to Earth Week itself (April 19-23rd). For more details, please see the poster and calendar and event listings below; all events are free and open to the public.

Please join us April 22nd to celebrate the 40th annual Earth Day with Debra Shore, Commissioner of the Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and Josh Ellis of the Metropolitan Planning Council to discuss Chicago’s HydroFuture.

Tuesday, April 6

Asian Carp Invasion: Potential Economic and Ecological Impacts in the Great Lakes

6:30pm, Shedd Aquarium

The spread of Asian carp toward the Great Lakes continues to cause great controversy. Electric barriers and poisons have been used to halt their spread, but the species still seem to be advancing up the Illinois River, through Chicago waterways, and into Lake Michigan. Some biologists and environmentalists maintain that Asian carp would cause an ecological disaster in the Great Lakes, and a case is pending in the Supreme Court to force the closure of Chicago area navigation locks to slow their spread. Despite these claims and court actions, there remains significant uncertainty about how severely Asian carp would impact the Great Lakes, and how effectively different management strategies would slow their spread.

The Program on the Global Environment at the University of Chicago, in partnership with the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, presents a public examination and discussion of the threat of Asian carp to Chicago and the Great Lakes. Experts in biology, economics and policy will provide the most up to date information about how these species threaten the ecology of the Great Lakes, how closing Chicago waterways would affect the regional economy, and the broader implications for the Great Lakes region and environmental management.

From the World Beyond the Headlines lecture series. For more information and to register (recommended), click here.

Monday, April 12

Parting of the Waters: An Interfaith Perspective on Water Use

5pm, Swift Lecture Hall, 3rd floor

Join Dr. Rev. Clare Butterfield of Faith in Place for a discussion about the theological and ethical issues surrounding water usage and conservation. What are the implications of the world’s water crises and how does it affect you morally? Refreshments will be provided.

This event is co-sponsored by the Spiritual Life Office at Rockefeller Chapel and and Ministry Studies at the Divinity School.

This event is a part of CRASH – Celebrating Religious and Spiritual Heritage – Week, a week-long celebration of spiritual diversity, organized by the student-led group Interfaith Action.

Friday, April 16

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Tour

12:30–4:30pm, Participants meet at 5525 S. Ellis Avenue, Suite 160

Co-sponsored by Chicago Studies

Want to see what happens to water after it's gone down the drain? Spend a few hours touring the Stickney Plant of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Relatively close to our neighborhood in Stickney, IL, the Stickney plant is the biggest water treatment plant in the world, cleaning over 750 million gallons of water every day. Learn about wastewater issues in greater Chicagoland by seeing the chemical and physical processes by which water is treated and touring the facility where these processes take place. Also hear about such projects as the Deep Tunnel Project, an extensive flood mitigation and pollution control project undertaken by the District. Space is limited, and registration is required prior to the tour date. Please fill out the release form attached. A photocopy of your ID is required for registration--contact Esther Bowen ( to turn in materials beginning Monday, March 29. Materials must be turned in no later than Thursday, April 2. Registration for this event is now closed.

Saturday, April 17

Spring Day of Service

8am–2pm, Reynolds Club, McCormick Tribune Lounge

Sponsored by the University of Chicago Community Service Center

The Day of Service is a day-long service project for University of Chicago students, faculty and staff members. Working with a group of community agencies selected around an environmental theme, this Day of Service offers participants the opportunity to volunteer at Chicago community-based agencies and to reflect on the meaning of service for society today.

Monday, April 19

Tap Water Challenge and Water Filters

11am–1pm, Reynolds Club Marketplace

Can YOU taste the difference between tap and bottled water? The Tap Water Challenge is a taste-test pitting pricey bottled water against good old tap water, challenging participants to taste the difference between the two. Many are surprised to find that there is not much of a difference at all! The challenge is a fun way to engage participants and raise awareness of the critical environmental, economic, and social impacts of bottled water use. Participants will also have the chance to learn about options for filtering tap water in their homes or dorms. This event will take place in Reynolds Club on Monday, April 19th, as well as on Friday, April 22nd, during Earth Fest.

Asian Carp and Management of the Chicago Waterway: A Policy Discussion

5–6:30pm, Harris School, 1st floor Lecture Hall

Speakers: Joel Brammeier (Alliance for the Great Lakes) and Jim Farrell (Illinois Chamber of Commerce)

Moderated by Josh Ellis (Metropolitan Planning Council)

The Sustainability Council along with the Chicago Environmental Policy Association will host a forum regarding the current issue involving the Asian Carp and the closing of the Chicago Locks. The discussion will be moderated by Josh Ellis of the Metropolitan Planning Council and the respondents will include Jim Farrell of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Joel Brammeier from the Alliance for the Great Lakes. All three participants are very involved in the current discussion and bring various perspectives that highlight different aspects of the debate. Refreshments will be provided.

Tuesday, April 20

Green Cleaning Workshop

12–1pm, Bartlett Lounge

Julia Govis, master gardener and international organic farm inspector, will lead this workshop on making your own “green” cleaning products. Did you know that the air inside your home may be 2 – 5 times more polluted than the air outside? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, in extreme cases the air inside may be 100 times more contaminated, due in large part to household cleaners and pesticides. In a 2002 U.S. Geological Survey study of contaminants in U.S. stream water, 69 percent of streams sampled contained persistent detergent metabolites, and 66 percent contained disinfectants (see: for more information). Come learn how you can do your part to help reduce these pollutants in our water and air, just by making your own “green” cleaning products.

Wednesday, April 21

Energy and Water Conservation Workshop

12–1pm, Bartlett Lounge

Join the Sustainability Council and Will Hines, University of Chicago Energy Manager, for a workshop on Energy and Water Conservation. Mr. Hines will discuss strategies for conserving energy and water in your living space, office and car. Also, learn about the Kill A WattTM Power Meters that are available for checkout to measure the electricity use of your appliances.

FLOW Film Screening

5pm, Biological Sciences Learning Center, Room 001

Come see Irena Salina's award-winning documentary investigation into the World Water Crisis. Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with a focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists reveal the rapidly building crisis at the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab while begging the question, "Can anyone really own water?" Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, the emerging blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround. Refreshments will be provided.

Thursday, April 22

Keynote: Chicago’s HydroFuture—Challenges, Opportunities and Uncertainties for Regional Water Stewardship and Management

5pm, Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery (KCBD) Lecture Hall, Rm 1103

Speakers: Debra Shore (Commissioner, Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District), Josh Ellis (Metropolitan Planning Council)

Chicago is blessed with abundant water resources, but also cursed. Our proximity to Lake Michigan too often deludes us into believing that our water resources are infinite, when in fact they are finite and under pressure. Moreover, the construction of the city’s infrastructure and the reversal of the Chicago River have made our wastewater and stormwater the Mississippi River’s problem, and made interbasin species transfer (i.e. Asian carp) a constant threat.

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Debra Shore and Metropolitan Planning Council Associate Josh Ellis will explore the complex nature of Chicago’s water systems, provide recommendations on sustainable water resources management for the 21st Century, and answer questions from the audience. Reception to follow.

Friday, April 23

Earth Fest

11am-2pm, Main Quad

Earth Fest a culmination of the University's Earth Week festivities. Throughout the week we have hosted discussions, talks, and workshops touching on environmental ethics, conservation, and stewardship. Earth Fest aims to connect these issues by encouraging engagement and continued consideration of sustainability in everyday life. Earth Fest highlights local and sustainable organizations and businesses to emphasize the impact that your purchasing power can have on the community. Stop by and talk to a local farmer, an artisan soap maker, or a sustainable caterer. Learn how to grow seedlings and enhance your life while having a positive effect on the environment!

The Giving Tree Band, a local band committed to sustainability, will be performing 12-1pm.

Material Re-use/Functional Art: A Sustainable Design Workshop

2–5pm, Midway Studios, 6016 S. Ingleside Ave.

Co-sponsored by The Department of Visual Arts (DOVA)

Join David Wolf (Facilities Director, DOVA) and Richard Bumstead (Associate Director, Campus Environment) for a design charrette focused on creative re-use of building materials from Midway Studios. The goal of the collaborative session is to produce designs for prototypes of park benches, that will be constructed and used in the campus environment. All University students are encouraged to participate. Enrollment is free but limed to 20 participants. To RSVP or for more information, please contact the Office of Sustainability.