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Week of April 18, 2011

Earth Day celebrations planned

In celebration of Earth Day, North Quad will host an Andean Thanksgiving Ceremony for Mother Earth.

The ceremony known as Despacho a Pachamama in Quechua, the language of the Incas, gives participants an opportunity to express gratitude to the Earth, and the land that provides resources for well-being, says organizer Tatiana Calixto, a lecturer II in Spanish and GIEU Teaching Fellow in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.


It consists of a series of offerings (seeds, candy, grains and others) that are presented with reverence and gratitude to the Earth. The event also will include video presentations about various aspects of the tradition.

“I’ve performed this ceremony with my students in my classes, and they compare it to Mother’s Day,” Calixto says. “I totally agree, since we celebrate a special day by returning to our mothers, perhaps presenting a gift to them, and doing something special for everything that they do for us.”

The celebration will take place 5-7 p.m. Friday in Room 2435 of North Quad. Calixto says this room provides the perfect space for the event.

“It’s a beautiful space for the university community, and I feel grateful to be able to use it to share this practice with the public just a few weeks after it opened,” she says. “It is an open space for events of different nature such as technology, art, languages and cultures (and all of them as inter-disciplines, of course). This event adds to the community of North Quad focused on a multicultural world.

LSA Dean Terrence McDonald was absolutely right when he said that North Quad is going to be a place of magic. I’m connecting and disseminating ancient practices aided by all the technology at hand in 2435.”

Jamie Lausch, North Quad programming coordinator, expects the ceremony to be a powerful experience for those who attend.

“There’s something philosophical about taking care of the Earth and giving back to it,” Lausch says. “There’s a positive energy to this, a positive cheerful energy for the Earth that’s needed in addition to conservation efforts.”

The event will provide an opportunity for faculty, staff and students to talk about basic levels of sustainability, but above all “love and respect for the land we live in,” Calixto says.

“For the indigenous peoples — Quechua, Aymara, Arhuaco, Mapuche and many more in the world — the planet is their temple and home. We should learn from that.”

In addition to Calixto, other organizers include North Quad Programming, the Language Resource Center and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Another campus event planned for Earth Day is a two-day workshop, Revitalizing Innovation in Michigan for Clean Energy Manufacturing. It will explore how to create an ecosystem of innovation throughout the state.

The event takes place 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 21 and 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 22 in the Michigan League.

The workshop will include state and national leaders, in addition to representatives from the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, the School of Natural Resources and Environment, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), OVPR’s Office of Technology Transfer and the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise.

For more information and to register, go to



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