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Environmental groups host sustainability event

BY CARLY HURWITZ | SEPTEMBER 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City and the University of Iowa will come together for Moving Planet, a worldwide event sponsored by 350.org, which works to solve the climate crisis. Approximately 158 countries will unite to demand solutions to the crisis that affects the entire globe.

The Iowa City Moving Planet event will begin with a 3.5-mile bike ride and a 1-mile march starting at the Old Capitol at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 25. Bikers and walkers will end at the Riverside Theatre Festival Stage, in Lower City Park. A rally and music festival will begin at the park at 2 p.m.

The event was organized by a planning committee with members from several environmentally focused organizations including local community and University of Iowa groups such as the Iowa City Climate Advocates and the UI Environmental Coalition.

"The area we are really concentrating on is building renewable energy on campus," said Liz Christiansen, the director of the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability.

She said the event will focus on the communities of Iowa City and the university coming together to raise awareness. She said the UI has a commitment to achieve 40 percent renewable-energy consumption on campus by 2020.

Iowa City will be a part of the movement toward a sustainable future by hosting the day of festivities, educating the community, and initiating the use of renewable energy.

Ben Klaus, a student working with the Engineers for a Sustainable World, said one of the day's activities, the bike ride, has been organized because biking is commonly seen as one of the greenest modes of transportation.

"The ride will go past both the coal plant and solar station near the Cambus barn," he said. "We do that to show the need to move from old tech to new tech."

The rally will feature speakers Christiansen, Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, Tim Dwight, former Hawkeye and NFL football player and owner of iPower, in addition to other professionals and university officials.

"We've taken great care to plan an afternoon with fun and meaningful events that will appeal to lots of different people," said Ryan Gourley, a member of the Iowa City Climate Advocates.

A music stage will feature Dave Moore, Chasing Shade, the Awful Purdies, the Emilees, and Bree Nettie and Marty Letz. The family-friendly music and festivities include information booths and children's contests.

"[We are here] to encourage people to make changes and encourage our communities and government to regulate the emission of these gases," said Giselle Bruskewitz, a copresident of the UI Environmental Coalition.

The issues are present and real, she said, and there are small changes people can make in their everyday lives that are extremely important in reducing climate problems.

"Buying local food, supporting local business, turning off your lights, and using less water," Bruskewitz said.

Not only can individuals make small changes, but as a community, the event's organizers said, people can come together to make a difference.

"Voting is a big thing we can all do," Bruskewitz said. "In Iowa, we hold a special role; we are one of the two states that get to talk to presidential candidates regarding these issues."

Having this opportunity allows Iowans to question candidates on how they plan to prevent these issues and find out how they propose to cope, because changes will occur, she said.

"Iowa City as a whole is a relatively informed community when it comes to sustainability issues," Gourley said. "Knowing what needs to change is one thing; knowing how to get it changed and actually making it happen is a whole different animal."

Community members are encouraged to network, connect, and learn how they can meaningfully effect change, Gourley said.

"The more people who learn about climate change and become passionate about it, the more we as a community and nation can do to protect the only planet we have," Klaus said.


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