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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

SFSU celebrates Earth Week

Climate HQ celebrates Earth Day as Earth Week with a series of events dedicated to tackling climate issues around the world
Bryan Chavez
An illustration of people at a park riding bikes, reading a book and cleaning up trash on a beautiful sunny day. (Bryan Chavez / Golden Gate Xpress)

Reduce, reuse, recycle — three words that are preached but have more impact on a day like Earth Day. We all know what climate change is and how frightening our world could become in a few decades, but climate change doesn’t necessarily have to be negative.

“I feel like normally when we learn about it, we’re kind of like, ‘Damn, that’s bad, everything’s gonna melt, the Earth is not going to be livable,'” said Alcides Fuentes, the program and communications specialist for Climate HQ.

“But that kind of creates this mentality that, ‘I can’t do anything about it. Why do you even care?’ We want to change the perspective of this sad, gloomy thing into something that’s empowering for people and that they can take action, regardless of where they’re at,” Fuentes said.

San Francisco State University’s Climate HQ, an organization created to empower the campus community to become climate justice leaders, is collaborating with the Environmental Resource Center to celebrate Earth Day by dedicating an entire week to activities for students and faculty. The goal is to teach students more about climate issues and how to get involved.

Climate HQ has planned a series of events such as tabling, holding planetarium shows, a few mixers including climate justice jobs, a few panels and an environmental film festival. There will also be a few live performances from musicians.

Fuentes got involved in climate justice because he could relate it back to his cultural roots. He explained that when he first learned about climate change, he was taught how people of different cultures would take care of their surrounding environments.

“When we learned about climate justice, I kind of realized, ‘Oh, damn, like, I’m Salvadorian and my environment is beautiful.’ I’m connected to my culture that takes care of the environment. The animals, trees and forest are all part of this culture that we have. It’s empowering and puts you in a different perspective,” Fuentes said.

This is Climate HQ’s second year conducting Earth Week after last year’s successful experiment. While collaborating with the physics and astronomy department, last year’s focus was more so on the scientific aspect of climate change. This year, the organization hopes to build off of what worked for them.

The club originated after a group of people on campus requested grant proposals to establish an environmental program, which became Climate HQ. The group wrote a proposal to establish justice-based initiatives on campus and also support climate work on campus.

Earth Week is meant to celebrate all the work that’s happening on campus that’s related to climate and environmental justice. Erica Pulley, a professor in BECA and a member of the Climate HQ events committee, said it was a group effort to decide what events to hold over the week.

Pulley hopes that Earth Week will bring students and faculty together to form a community amongst climate activists.

“When you are part of a community there can still be joy, we can still celebrate while we work together to tackle these huge, overwhelming structural issues,” Pulley said. “I think showing students climate change is not just a distant issue. These issues with energy, pollution and climate directly impact so many of the students on our campus and in their communities and they might not even realize it yet.”

Pulley taught environmental media communications during her time at SFSU. Although she is currently working in Oregon to earn her Ph.D., Pulley made the effort to attend Earth Week at SFSU to continue to support Climate HQ.

“I wanted to work on creating Earth Week as the Climate HQ Earth Week where we could celebrate all the work that’s happening on campus that’s related to climate and environmental justice,” Pulley said. “So there’s science, social issues, communications and art. There’s all these different ways that these issues are approached and explored.”

One of the events that Pulley deemed “her baby” was the film festival. The festival will feature a few films, such as an award-winning documentary, “Water Warriors” created by filmmaker and activist Micheal Premo, and also NorCal Public Media’s sneak preview of their forthcoming PBS series, “Climate California.”

To ensure a seamless performance, Pulley has been collaborating closely with Teresa Locher, the coordinator of the Earth Week film festival.

Locher is a video editor and storytelling intern for the Women’s Earth Alliance in Berkeley. Their goal is to help the environment and end climate change while also empowering women’s leadership.

One of Locher’s professors introduced her to Climate HQ, where she and Pulley began discussing the film festival.

“When it comes to environmental filmmaking, the whole purpose of environmental communications is to spread awareness and get people talking about important issues,” Locher said. “We wanted to see an event on campus where students can share their work and get recognized amongst professional filmmakers, who have been doing this a lot longer and have seen the way environmental communications has changed the environmental justice movement, especially in the past decades.”

Locher wants to push for students to engage in conversations so that everyone can become more aware of current climate issues. As the days pass, it is only becoming more relevant in our everyday lives.

“Climate change is not its own separate issue, it’s going to start being more of a reality for our lives,” Locher said. “It’s a realistic need that people are having to go into jobs that are more environmentally focused. Every organization needs to be aware to know that they’re not negatively impacting the environment.”

Just because we celebrate Earth Day once a year doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the effort year-long. This is the only planet we can call home, so let’s make a collective effort to protect it.

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About the Contributor
Bryan Chavez
Bryan Chavez, Multimedia Editor
Bryan Chavez (he/him) is a reporter for SF State’s Golden Gate Xpress. He is a senior pursuing a major in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. As a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, Bryan aspires to become a beat writer for the Golden State Warriors or any other major league sports team in the region. Beyond his journalistic pursuits, he enjoys engaging in hobbies such as hiking, painting, and building with Legos during his free time.

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