'Carbon Down Arizona' Block Party Celebrates Earth Day

'Carbon Down Arizona' Block Party Celebrates Earth Day

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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University Boulevard will go green, literally, when students paint a portion of the street for next Wednesday's Earth Day block party. But don't worry – they'll stick with eco-friendly, water soluble, low volatile organic compound paint in the spirit of the day.

The "Carbon Down Arizona" block party – organized by students from the Associated Students of The University of Arizona and the Arizona Public Interest Research Group – will include information booths, activities, food, musical entertainment and more in a celebration of Earth Day designed to bring together members of the campus and Tucson communities who are interested in sustainability.

Observed annually, and internationally, on April 22, Earth Day is intended to raise awareness and appreciation of the environment and issues facing it.

The block party's name, a play on the Wildcat athletics' slogan, "Bear Down," reaches out to both Arizona sports fans and fans of reducing our "carbon footprint," or environmental impact. This year's block party differs from Earth Day information fairs held in years past on the UA Mall, said Lesley Ash, ASUA's sustainability director and one of the block party organizers.

For one thing, organizers decided this year to set up on University Boulevard, which will be closed to traffic between North Park Avenue and North Euclid Avenue during the event, because the bustling street acts as "bridge" between the campus and the Tucson community, Ash said. 

Also new this year is an emphasis on student job and volunteer opportunities related to sustainability.

While environmental information fairs have been done, Ash said she'd never heard of a "green career fair," so she wanted to draw students in by giving them opportunities to get actively involved in living more sustainably.

"Our event is really action based," Ash said. "Conversation is important, but we've been talking about this for so long, what are we going to do about it?"

The majority of the 80 vendors expected to set up booths at the party – including local businesses, nonprofit organizations and University entities – will advertise job, internship or volunteer opportunities to UA students, Ash said. Vendors will include those that are "green" in their overall focus and those that are employing eco-friendly practices or working on a project related to sustainability.     

Spaces are still available for the UA Initiatives section of the vendor lineup, which showcases environmental projects happening right on the UA campus. Campus departments or employees involved in research or projects related to sustainability and that have potential involvement opportunities for students are invited to e-mail Neil Place at nplace@email.arizona.edu to learn how to get involved. Applications to participate are due Friday, Ash said.

Other highlights of the party, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 22, include eco-friendly art classes, performances by local bands, educational activities hosted by campus clubs and organizations, and free yoga classes at the UA Visitor Center. There will also be a "clean car show," showcasing fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles. The UA Farmers' Market, which normally takes place on Fridays, will instead coincide with the block party. Tucson City Councilman Rodney Glassman will give a keynote address to kick off the event.

"It's about getting out there and having fun and building collaborations, but it's also about recognizing that we have our work cut out for us" when it comes to living more sustainably, Ash said.

Major sponsors for the event include the Tucson Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission, the Residence Hall Association, Aveda and the Marshall Foundation. More information on the party is available online.

The "Carbon Down Arizona" block party is just one of several events planned to celebrate Earth Day at the UA. Others include:

  • Spotlight Conversation on Climate Action, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom
  • Campus Sustainability Walking Tour, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • UA Environmental Summit, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center's Gallagher Theater
  • Screenings of "Planet Earth," 7 p.m. at Gallagher Theatre 

For details on the day's events check out the UANews article "Major Earth Day Celebration at UA on April 22."

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