Campaign Coordinator for MobilizeU Carra Cheslin, 22, unites college environmental activists worldwide. In celebration of Earth Day 2012, participating universities engage in and encourage a more sustainable lifestyle on campus. Cheslin explains more about MobilizeU.
By Danielle Rita
Danielle Rita: What college do you hail from?
Carra Cheslin: I graduated with a BA from Connecticut College in New London, CT. Not so long ago, I was a college environmental activist myself!
DR: How long have you been employed by Earth Day Network?
CC: I’ve been working for Earth Day Network (EDN) as the MobilizeU Campaign Coordinator in Washington D.C. for just under six months.
DR: Will this Earth Day 2012 be the first for MobilizeU?
CC: Yes! EDN is very excited to be launching MobilizeU for the first time this Earth Day as the focal point of our Earth Day University campaign. MobilizeU is an international movement of environmentally-concerned college students, mobilizing their campus communities by organizing four weeks of environmental activism leading up to Earth Day 2012 (March 29 – April 29).
DR: What are some of the activities universities will participate in?
CC: University students will be organizing a wide variety of initiatives as part of MobilizeU including but not limited to: hosting Earth Day events, registering new student voters, coordinating community environmental projects, greening their college campuses, having students pledge individual “acts of green,” and organizing rallies to raise awareness about environmental issues.
DR: What is an “Act of Green,” and how is it calculable?
CC: Acts of green are defined as any activity which reduces an individual’s carbon footprint or educates someone about the environment. Thus in the context of the competition, acts of green is the point system we use to quantify each university’s impact in order to determine their standing in the competition. For every environmental activity or initiative organized by student activists in MobilizeU, the number of acts of green accomplished is calculated based on the number of hours per person spent planning and implementing the event, as well as any additional calculable outcome (such as number of petitions signed or number of people in attendance at an event). Every act of green generated through MobilizeU contributes to Earth Day Network’s A Billion Acts of Green initiative, a call to environmental action to be presented to world leaders at the upcoming Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development. Having the quantifiable point system of acts of green enables each participating university to tailor their participation in the MobilizeU competition, ensuring that the projects they initiate on their respective campus will be locally relevant and impactful.
DR: Is this something you would like to see become a tradition?
CC: We are thrilled at the response and interest that MobilizeU has generated from university students around the globe. EDN definitely plans to continue hosting the MobilizeU Competition on an annual basis, and we look forward to keeping this network of students active year round.
DR: When did you start putting together this project?
CC: Through Earth Day University, EDN has been working with college students over the past several years to organize Earth Day events on their campuses. However, the idea for MobilizeU came to fruition this past November as we began planning our university programming for Earth Day 2012. This year I wanted to grow the campaign and embrace the Earth Day 2012 theme Mobilize the Earth by going international and uniting students everywhere for a sustainable future.
DR: What was your inspiration?
CC: MobilizeU really started as an effort to challenge student environmentalists to go beyond organizing an event for Earth Day each year, and actually spend the month leading up to Earth Day educating their peers and taking on campus sustainability initiatives. Additionally, 2012 is a unique year with the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development coming up in June; so, I thought, what a perfect opportunity to call upon world leaders for global environmental action, by highlighting the efforts of passionate college students around the world.
DR: MoblizeU acquired participants globally. How were you able to reach out to so many people?
CC: Yes, we have had a much higher rate of success at getting university students involved than I ever could have imagined. At this time, about three weeks away from the start of the MobilizeU Month, we have almost 100 participating universities representing 6 continents, 20 countries, and 29 US states! Our success has come from the tireless efforts of our over 30 Student Regional Coordinators worldwide, the help of 13 major partner organizations, and the MobilizeU Team of myself and 4 amazing interns – college students themselves – continuing to outreach, organize, and innovate.
DR: Do you have any specific goals or expectations?
CC: First and foremost, I hope that MobilizeU provides a forum for student activists across the globe to connect with each other as well as a platform for campus environmental activism to be highlighted on the international level at the United Nations. We’re already doing the former by establishing an interactive Facebook hub for student participants to post videos and photos documenting their MobilizeU activities, and I cannot wait to present the inspiring work that these students have accomplished at the Rio+20 Summit this June.
DR: Will the University that wins receive any first place-prize, maybe more funding for green activities around campus?
CC: We will definitely be awarding prizes to selected universities that display outstanding MobilizeU efforts. But the nature of these prizes must be kept a secret at this time! However, it is my hope and belief that every student who acts as a MobilizeU Coordinator or takes part in a MobilizeU campus initiative will gain a great deal just by being a part of a global movement and knowing that their efforts will be presented as part of a worldwide call for environmental action.
To Mobilize your College or University, sign up here.