GREEN House raises $1,000 for water research institute

Sammy Caiola

For the first time in Northwestern’s GREEN House’s four-year history, residents set their sights on charity fundraising and collected over $1,000 for the Freshwater Institute, a Virginia non-profit organization dedicated to the sustainable use of water.

The GREEN House, NU’s environmentally themed residence hall, has traditionally advocated for environmental education by bringing in speakers and holding events, said outgoing president Mark Silberg. This year, however, GREEN House has decided to focus on a charity donation instead.

The Freshwater Institute is a national research organization that develops solutions to maintain the sustainability of water resources and preserve water life .

GREEN House’s 45 residents voted this fall to choose a beneficiary, said Silberg, a Weinberg sophomore. After choosing the Freshwater Institute, the students held bake sales, hosted fundraising parties and wrote letters to friends and family, Silberg said.

“It was surprisingly easy to raise a thousand dollars,” he said. “We had a lot of support. This is the first time that we’ve reached out to an organization doing great work and offered to raise money for them.”

The sustainability of water is becoming “an increasingly hot topic” in the environmental community and on campus, Silberg said.

Steve SoloMonday, author of “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization,” spoke to students on Tuesday as part of the Environmental Policy and Culture speaker series. Additionally, Ann Feldman, a visiting scholar, will be holding a screening of a documentary called “Water Pressures” on April 26th in Harris Hall.

Paul Friesema, professor emeritus and founder of the Environmental Policy and Culture program, said there is not enough accessible fresh water to serve the world’s growing need for it. This is a threat to the Great Lakes, Friesema said, because that water could be removed and taken to other parts of the country.

“The amount of water is limited, and it’s not equally distributed,” Friesema said. “That’s going to cause desertification and make water scarcer. For very many people, clean, fresh water is a dream, not a reality.”

GREEN House hopes charity fundraising will become a tradition that its future executive boards will continue, said John Park, a McCormick sophomore and GREEN House’s outgoing historian. He said residents enjoy fundraising and are eager to help .

“We definitely are a smaller dorm, but that creates a bigger sense of community,” Park said. “Everyone in GREEN House is really close and we all want to be involved. The response we got was overwhelming.”

Incoming president Henrik Westerkam, a Weinberg freshman, said the GREEN House freshmen will vote on a new beneficiary next year.

“We definitely plan on continuing that,” Westerkam said. “It was such a great thing we did. It went really well.”

Many of the baked goods sold were vegan and vegetarian, and letter-writers were encouraged to send emails instead of letters in an effort to make the fundraising greener, Park said.

For Silberg, this initiative is part of a wider environmental effort.

“We hope in the future to continue to support great institutions like the Freshwater Institute who are working in the field to make our environment safer and healthier, not only for the benefit of people, but for the sake of the planet,” Silberg said.

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