Here in California, April usually marks the start of spring. Rainfall slows to a drizzle, clouds part and temperatures rise. But for UC Berkeley students, as well as many across the globe, this spring feels different. Instead of heading to Memorial Glade between classes for a lunch picnic in sunshine, we are opening apartment windows to listen to birds or, if we are lucky enough to have a backyard, stepping out from our Zoom screens to enjoy the bees buzzing through garden flowers.
In short, the ways in which we appreciate springtime and the renewal of natural life have changed for the time being. But while much of the world has stopped for the coronavirus, nature and environmental activism are still at work. With Earth Day just around the corner, we at the Weekender decided to assess our relationship with the natural world — how this relationship has evolved due to COVID-19 and how we can work to foster a healthy environment in a post-pandemic world.
This week, Daniel Orona explored the replenishing of nature as humans are subtracted from the environmental equation in a short story. Told from the perspective of the Earth and moon, the story reimagines the human-centered narrative of the coronavirus.
Other writers decided to tell stories of what humans are doing to help the Earth during this unexpected halt to normal life. Staff writer Marina Newman wrote about the revival of victory gardens, a term first coined during World War I to describe all the new home and community gardens planted in a time of food scarcity. As the American masses become increasingly wary of entering public spaces, urban farming activists push for at-home gardening and less reliance on supermarket food, products of the industrialized food system.
Just like food systems activism, the right-to-repair movement is taking slows from the coronavirus in stride. Staff writer Sonnet Phelps described the movement in detail: from its core in advocating against planned obsolescence and restricted access to the knowledge necessary to repair your devices, to specific roadblocks in the movement.
Staff writer Shannon Hong looks at tea through the lens of environmental sustainability. As a current instructor of the TeaCAL class on campus, a DeCal that explores the history and sustainability of various kinds of tea, she has expanded her knowledge of the drink far beyond the boba tea she consumed on a daily basis throughout high school.
Layla Chamberlin takes on a more holistic focus on sustainability in her commentary on the connection between the coronavirus and climate change, in which she compares the responses to both global crises. Her commentary is accompanied by her own ink illustration, depicting a hillscape of vegetation alongside a smoky metropolis.
Finally, Saya Abney takes a deep dive into one trending corner of Twitter: ecofascism. Their intricate account of the conceptual melding of far-right extremism and environmentalism explains why ecofascism tweets might be on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this environmentally themed issue, our writers chose to analyze environmental advocacy, from the personal to the global, in a collection of intricately woven stories of the human relationship to the natural world.