Ecology-based classes promote conservation

Leia Karimul Bashar

Imaginative art students at Washburn have come up with some inspiring ways to promote awareness and increased understanding about humanity’s impact on the environment.

Ecovention and Eco-art are ecology-based classes at Washburn that encourage conservation through art. Both classes meet at the same time and place every week, but the students in each class work on different projects. If it sounds confusing, well, that’s because it is. However, the atmosphere in the classroom is one of controlled chaos. The students all seem to know exactly what they are doing, and they are clearly dedicated to their projects.

A group of four young women in Ecovention is working on a project to call attention to the Washburn recycling program. Linnzi Fusco, junior, said the recycling bins at Washburn aren’t used for the purpose of recycling. Instead, plastic bottles are thrown out with the trash.On average, about 60.7 pounds of plastic bottles at Washburn are thrown away every month, according the women’s statistics, which they gathered from Washburn’s website.

“Think about how much waste that is,” said Fusco. “Bottles don’t weigh very much.”

The workers who usually dispose of the bottles have been donating them to the women, who are using them to showcase the wastefulness of that amount of plastic. Their project consists of chicken wire shaped into containers. Each container is filled and then lined with plastic bottles originally destined for a landfill.

Other students’ projects are equally ambitious. For instance, Cari Powell, senior, said her plan is to map urban sprawl in Topeka.

“I’m trying to find older maps to compare to newer maps,” said Powell, “and I’m thinking about incorporating photography into it, too.”

Everyone in the Eco-Art class must complete some form of community service. Powell’s service is to set up Eco-Art’s booth Tuesday for Scorch on the Porch’s “Celebrate Spring and Earth Day.”

Quincy Johnson, senior, fulfilled his community service assignment during spring break by leading a group of children from the Boys & Girls Club of Topeka to clean up Jefferson Square Park. Johnson said there weren’t any trash cans at the park. When he called and asked about it, a city spokesperson told him the park is in the process of acquiring new trash cans; unfortunately, park garbage cans are frequently stolen. Under the circumstances, Johnson said he thinks the city does the best it can to keep the park clean.

“The city has been going out there a couple of times a year to clean up the park and the shelter house, and repave the basketball court,” said Johnson.

Ecovention will have a booth Tuesday in the Student Union as part of Scorch on the Porch. Students will be available for the entire duration of Scorch on the Porch to hand out flyers and discuss their projects. Canvas bags will also be available for a $2 donation toward Earth Day activities.

“The canvas bags are replacements for plastic bags,” said Marguerite Perret, an assistant art professor and environmental artist who organized the Eco-art and Ecovention classes. “Some of them will be dyed, and some will be plain. People can even come up and decorate them.”

Scorch on the Porch will be located just north of the union on the patio and lawn Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for “Celebrate Spring and Earth Day.” Besides the art students’ booth, the day’s events will include musical entertainment, food service and a bookstore sidewalk sale.