To help celebrate ten years of the Earth Charter, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University held its own Earth Charter +10 week on campus to commemorate the momentous occasion. As part of Earth Charter +10 week, the Center held a number of different events including an Earth Charter conversation, a student-led dialogue entitled “E-waste and Ethics: Where do BlackBerrys Decompose?”, and a ceremonial tree planting to culminate the week. The week was meant to raise awareness about the Earth Charter and to display FGCU’s commitment to the principles of the Earth Charter.
The week began on November 1 with a campus-wide conversation on what it means for FGCU to be an Earth Charter Affiliate hosted by University President Wilson G. Bradshaw. Bradshaw and a group of Earth Charter scholars from around the world signed the Affiliate Agreement between FGCU and the Earth Charter Initiative in February 2009. During the conversation, college deans, faculty, representatives from Student Government, students and staff assessed our commitment to the Earth Charter and shared ideas on how the Earth Charter can be better integrated into University life.
On November 4, 2010, the Center’s annual Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue was held as part of the Earth Charter +10 week events. The dialogue was meant to provide a space for students, faculty, and community members to reflect on the little explored topic of electronic waste and our response to this growing environmental, social justice and policy issue. The panelists for the evening took a look at e-waste at FGCU and in the local community, the global impacts of e-waste, and the ethical principles behind consumption and waste. Members of the audience were urged to become more aware of the effect their choices have on the environment. The Dialogue was framed around Principle 7 of the Earth Charter which says to “Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.” By attempting to adhere to this principle, there is hope that our consumption habits might then be guided by an increased ethical awareness of our effect on the environment. Panelists for the evening included Jim Puckett, Director of the Basal Action Network, Dr. Eric Otto, Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at FGCU, and Jessica Mendes, a graduate student at FGCU. The event was co-moderated by Center student assistants Ariel Chomey and Jordan Yingling, and a special invocation was given by Andy Buster, an elder of Florida’s indigenous Miccosukee tribe.
FGCU’s Earth Charter +10 week culminated with a ceremonial tree planting of a “University Earth Charter Tree” to celebrate ten years of the Earth Charter, the LEED Platinum certification of one of FGCU’s new buildings on campus, and the lives of three recently deceased Native American friends of the Center. During the ceremony, students, faculty associates of the Center, and Center staff read the principles of the Earth Charter and reflected on how the University community might align itself to its ethical principles. After addressing the participants, each speaker tied a ribbon to a branch of the University Earth Charter Tree. The first two ribbons were the FGCU blue and green, symbolizing water, sky, and land. Black, red, yellow, and white ribbons were also tied to represent the diversity of humankind. The tree planting ended with young children from the Family Resource Center pouring water around the base of the tree, with other members of the crowd following to make their own contributions.