UBC Forestry tackled the challenge of celebrating Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, which happened to fall during this year’s COVID-19 quarantine, virtually.
This year’s Earth Day anniversary milestone, which has typically been recognized with large outdoor festivities, was celebrated with a number of online initiatives launched by the Faculty’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) research group. Members said they were particularly motivated by this year’s annual event as the theme for 2020 was Climate Action.
Among those virtual Earth Day initiatives was their first-ever Cool ‘Hood Champs online climate-action training for local climate champions. With Zoom workshops held on April 18th and 25th, the group has brought together community residents who wanted to learn about how they can fight climate change where they live.
CALP members also noted growing interest in their already established Citizens Coolkit – a fun, simple, visual toolkit that any person, family or community can use to engage in learning about climate change on their block. The Coolkit has lots of activities like mapping ‘squirrel habitat’ (tree-canopy cover), rating a community block for its climate friendliness, and sketching future visions for a neighborhood street. These hands-on activities can be done on paper or smart phone, alone or in family groups, and indoors or outdoors, while maintaining physical distancing.
The group is currently launching their iCoolkit as an interactive tool to support citizens and teachers on local climate learning while parents and kids are stuck at home. They are also about to launch their new videogame “Our Future Community”, enabling high school students to design urban forestry options and renewable energy solutions in a neighbourhood like theirs.
Earth Day occurs annually on April 22, with events occurring worldwide.