Historically, every Earth Day, the SUNY New Paltz Outing Club hosts an event to celebrate our planet and promote smart, environmentally sustainable lifestyles. This year, on April 22, 2023, the Outing Club hosted their first Earth Day celebration in over two years.
President of the Outing Club and third-year geology major, Zoe Eagle said that COVID-19 shut down their celebration in 2020 and the need to rebuild the Outing Club’s E-board in the years that followed prevented them from organizing the event until this year.
The event went from 12-4 p.m. and was held on Old Main quad with 23 organizations attending with tables to show off their sustainability and how anyone can aid in helping the environment. Among those tabling were the Fahari Libertad, NYPIRG, Print Club, Democracy Matters, New Paltz Music Collective, Eco Allies, Solar Lunar and of course, Outing Club.
This year’s Earth Day event was very close to being another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would have been another cherished event lost too quickly to the sands of time, but Eagle and her club were determined to make sure that didn’t happen.
“In January, another E-Board member and I went to the sustainability ambassadors and said, ‘Hey we have this idea, do you guys want to co-host this event?’ and they thought the idea was great,” she said. “Since then, we’ve created an Earth Day coalition of other groups like the sustainability ambassadors, Eco Allies, NYPIRG and the Fahari.”
At noon, the Outing Club had some people speak about climate and the environment to garner support in fighting for climate justice. Among the speakers were Sarahana Shrestha, the assemblymember for district 103 in New York, Maddison Garland-Tirado a third-year sociology major and public relations representative for the Fahari Libertad and Wren Kingsley, a New Paltz sustainability ambassador.
Kingsley opened the speaking portion of the event with a chant, having the attendees say, “This is what democracy looks like!” and, “When our future is under attack, what do you do? Stand up, fight back!”
Following the speakers, the Eco Allies held a clothing swap next to their table where anyone could bring clothes they no longer want and exchange them with other clothes that were available.
Democracy Matters had a table where they were advocating for the Climate Jobs and Justice Act. “[The act] is a broad legislative package that includes improvements to our state’s utilities and infrastructure,” said Miles Palminteri, President of Democracy Matters. “It was already voted on by the State Assembly and is waiting in the State Senate.”
Garland-Tirado of the Fahari Libertad spoke about a mass deforestation effort to build a 340-acre police training facility dubbed Cop City. The facility will be built on the Indigenous Muscogee Creek land.
“Cop City is a $90 million police urban warfare training facility being built on the Muscogee nation forest and a Black working class neighborhood in Atlanta,” Garland-Tirado said. “Within Cop City, protestors called the Forest Defenders were camped out in the forest just trying to occupy space so it wouldn’t get bulldozed. The police raided their facility and shot one of the Forest Defenders named Tortuguita 57 times.”
The development of Cop City poses a large risk to the environment as 85 acres near the South River Forest needs to be built on in order to construct the facility.
He also talked about the 1033 Program which is a federal program that allows police agencies to buy military equipment from the government to use in their local policing. “Since 1990, police departments have spent over $6 million on military grade weapons,” Garland-Tirado said. “Departments like New York City have paid millions for mine-resistant vehicles, which were developed to be used in the war in Iraq.”
The organizations present were not only just clubs. Some student-run businesses were also present. Solar Lunar, a second hand jewelry and clothing merchant shop run by third-year visual arts major Gabbi Bush had a table where they sold their merchandise.
“A lot of what I do with my business is taking a lot of jewelry from thrifting. I take items that aren’t being used anymore and repurpose the beads, chains and clasps,” Bush said. “I kind of ravage them so that I don’t have to buy mass produced items. It also lets me keep using the energy these pieces already have for the next person.”
The New Paltz Music Collective also provided the live music for the event. The collective booked local bands Medulla and Until Later. The two bands played for about 45 minutes each. Music Collective also hosted an open mic towards the end of the event that allowed people to show off their skills and offer speeches.
The Outing Club is looking forward to making sure the Earth Day event is a new long standing tradition that will last generations at SUNY New Paltz.