The students and faculty of the Sustainability Studies Program here at Roosevelt wish everyone peace and good health today, 4/22/20, which marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. As all of us deal with the stresses, challenges, and sorrows of life during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is good for us to remember the strength and purpose of the many scientists, artists, political leaders, activists, and citizens who have fought (and today are still fighting) on behalf of our natural and human communities for the last 50 years.
Reprinted below is a message sent via email earlier this month to folks in the RU sustainability community from Sophia Gallo, Vice President of the Roosevelt University sustainability club, RU Green (@RUGreenClub on Instagram). While the club is running a host of activities during Earth Week, as noted here on Monday 4/20, the information below provides options for those interested in and able to engage in environmental/social justice activism, as your conscience dictates. Thanks to Sophia, Samantha, and all the members of RU Green for their advocacy, encouragement, and energy on behalf of the Earth and our relationship to it.
Samantha and I hope that everyone is staying safe and calm during this tough time. We also wanted to send an update about the status of RU Green for the rest of the semester. Since we obviously won’t be able to do meetings in person, we wanted to provide some activities you can do at home during your quarantines. So, this Earth week from April 20th-April 24th we will be posting videos of some easy eco-friendly DIY projects you can try out that we will keep up and available for you to access at any point in time!
We know people are in very different situations regarding this quarantine and not everyone has the luxury of free time or the desire to learn new crafts and hobbies. However, we still want to share some fun things we’ve been doing to make our lives a little lighter and more sustainable and hope that they will be things that you can enjoy as well. We will keep you updated on what exactly we’ll be doing once everything is solidified. Follow our Instagram @ RUGreenclub for more updates as well.
On another note, I wanted to share some information I’ve gathered recently because I’ve been feeling a bit powerless in this situation. I am in an incredibly privileged position during this time to be in a comfortable home with a supportive family. Because of this, I feel an extra responsibility to help out in any way I can. I can imagine some of you might be feeling this as well, so I wanted to provide some links to different organizations that are doing amazing work. If we have the means it’s important we do what we can to support people through this. I understand that consuming lots of info right now can be really anxiety-inducing so please know that the info below isn’t necessarily light-hearted and may even be emotional. Nevertheless, it is important, so please give it a look if you are able.
- Indigenous land is continuing to be stolen and used for harmful projects like the Keystone Pipeline even now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pipeline building is being pushed ahead with no regard for the safety of Indigenous peoples who might come in contact with infected pipeline workers.
- Text IENCOVID to 44-321 to donate from your phone or click the link above for more information and alternative methods of donation and support.
- In Illinois, there is currently a law in place (1997 Rent Control Preemption Act) that prevents any forms of rent control from being implemented. Governor Pritzker says that his hands are tied because of this law even though he has the power through his emergency executive authority to repeal it. For those who don’t know, rent control allows limits to be placed on how much landlords can charge for their rent.
- In this time when many people are unemployed and ordered to stay home to contain the virus, rent control should be a priority so people losing income don’t get evicted. While many banks have paused mortgage payments for landowners nothing has been done to protect renters who are disproportionately Black, Brown, undocumented, disabled, queer, and/or trans folks.
- Check this website to contact the governors/legislatures in your state and demand the implementation of rent control in an effort to save lives. I have a template of what to say if you’re unsure that I would be happy to send to those who are interested.
- Simply put, the increased loss of income for many families due to the COVID-19 virus brings about the increased need for food.
- Donate using this link or consider volunteering if you are able. For more information scroll through the “Get Involved” section on the website.
- If you’re not from the Chicagoland area or not currently living here Feeding America might be an organization you’d be interested in.
- Follow the link to donate or check their “Take Action” page for other ways to get involved including volunteering.
- The shortages of basic protective equipment like N95 Respirators, surgical masks, protective goggles, and gloves for health care workers is incredibly concerning. Healthcare workers are essential at a time like this and are not only being overworked but aren’t being protected. By putting healthcare workers at risk of contracting the virus the capacity of the system to work effectively is significantly reduced.
- Donate using the above link or click on “About” -> “Advocacy” for other ways to get involved such as calling senators and signing petitions.
- Black Americans have been contracting and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates and this is, unfortunately, no coincidence. Our system has failed Black people in this country in every possible way and this pandemic is not an exception. From housing discrimination to mass incarceration Black folks are feeling the consequences of COVID-19 at disproportional rates.
- Support this effort by donating through the link and help to secure resources curated for Black people by Black people in this time of need.
- A collection of groups identified on Bernie Sanders’ website dedicated to fighting various issues of the COVID-19 pandemic including some of which have already been listed such as “Amazonians United Mutual Aid Fund to support Amazon warehouse workers, The Workers Fund to support gig workers, Rent Zero Tenant Organizing Fund to support people struggling with housing, COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Community Bail & Bond Funds, the CERF+ COVID-19 Response Fund to support artists, and the Restaurant Worker Disaster Relief Fund to support restaurant workers.”
This list is nowhere near exhaustive but it has been a helpful start for me. I’ve seen many resources online that can guide people to other organizations, especially ones that are local to certain communities. Feel free to take this info and share it anywhere you’d like.
For those of you who are struggling during this time or need any help please consider using these resources to your benefit (they all have sections where you can go if you need support) and let me know if you’d like any more information about them. The best we can do is love and support each other in whatever way we can.
Sophia Gallo (she/her)
RU Green Vice President