Earth Day & Combatting Nihilism!

Major update 101.

We’re back with some sustainably produced news.

First thing’s first. Shout out to Ellison who was forced to return home from Nepal a month early. He has been writing some beautiful blog posts on his experience you should check out. Here is a way you can help Nepal recover from the earthquake. We’re proud of what he’s doing to help, but are sad that there was such devastation.

SIT Nepal: Development and Social Change Program…/the-green-arrow-fund/348182

This is a good segway into my discussion on combatting nihilism.

Neshama and I, both ENACT board and Tree House members felt it creep when we went for a sunrise hike at Bake Oven Knob a day after planting our beautiful Community and Permaculture Gardens to flourish and thrive. When we saw garbage lining the trails by the bagful and graffiti all over the magnficent cliffs overlooking miles of, from afar, seemingly unadulterated farmland, we cringed and sighed.

But we picked up the trash we could along the trail while discussing the difference between destructive and creative graffiti. We smelled the pine needles, felt the rocks solid beneath our feet, and when the time came lay belly first on the graffitti adorned cliffs to watch, in awe, the sun rise over wide open fields and rolling hills.

Neshama and I both derive so much of our energy and motivation from scenes like this. We can soak up our energy for the week or month just taking in the beauty and calm of one uninterrupted natural thing. But natural things are not often uninterrupted.

The two of us combatted a girl’s cursing and emphatic discussion of movies during the sunrise. All of her friends were trying to watch the sunrise but she was just talking and talking. I shifted between complacent, to curious, to furious, to understanding. The reason I became furious was because she was interrupting my sunrise. But then I understood that it wasn’t my sunrise. Everyone sees it differently. Nature is naturally interrupted whenever a human is around.

I have taken the philosophies of Leave No Trace to heart, and I believe part of this trace can be speech that writes over a landscape. The girl speaking during the sunrise, refusing to truly watch it, made me feel a sense of hopelessness. What have we done that we can no longer quietly admire a sunrise? Neshama later agreed with me that it was annoying, but also reminded me that it was not for me to decide the correct way of admiring a sunrise.

Just a week earlier, as the Muhlenberg sustainable community flooded into our house on Earth Day, I felt totally affirmed in my Tree House Life. As we prepared vegan, organic pizzas, played guitar and watched a documentary on urban farming & gardening, I looked around me to see people with like minds and souls. As Berg Bikes launches once again with a somewhat shaky start (a bike stolen, bikes needing repairs, not too many participants), we become, as a club, invigorated by our community and the bond we share.

One of these invigorating moments for me as Community Garden President was the garden planting, a long process of defining beds (which K. Heiman’s classes kindly took care of), weeding (careful not to pull out any asparagus), spreading compost (some from our own compost bins!), and finally, planting the wide variety of seeds. Now we have cool varieties of foods like cosmic purple carrots, rocket arugula and pear tomatoes. We also planted some crowd favorites, with input from the community, like sweet corn, brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli. If you know the name of the veggie, there’s a 75% chance we have it (rough statistics).

There’s nothing sweeter then watering the seeds for the first time. The feeling of the water spraying and the look of the ground as it darkens and cools with every drop is overwhelming. I am excited for the sunflowers, the premise of home grown salads, the possibility of more dinners to come when we can bring the community together. There is also the possibility that the Best Buddies program will do a harvesting day in the fall, which is super exciting.

On another exciting note (a few weeks late, but late with enthusiasm!) Earth Day was a huge success! We had a pesto station, a little clothing rack, the blender bike, plant your own veggie with Community Garden club, and student poster presentations. Then we were lucky enough to have Eco comedian Peter Toscano come perform.

ENACT board had the opportunity to dine with Toscano, and I am not exaggerating when I call him a genius. He’s writing an historical fiction book about the resurrection of Jesus from the perspective of Jesus’ sister. It was so much fun nerding out with him! We also talked a ton about sustainability. But I digress.

For now I care for the plants until Thursday, when we will say goodbye for the summer.

Until fall!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Tree Hugger, Rebecca

(ps. kicking trees is a great way to relieve finals tension!)


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