By Lisa Donchak

If you could make a burger out of anything, what would it be?

On Sunday, the College Eight Programs Office, the Student Environmental Center (SEC), and the UC Santa Cruz chapter of the California Student Public Interest Research Group (CalPirg), agreed that barbequed portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, and avocados would make great-tasting burgers.

In addition to making burgers, the three groups on campus organized the annual Earth Day celebration, titled “Ode to the Globe.”

The only Earth Day event in Santa Cruz this year was located in the College Eight plaza and featured bands, speakers, workshops, and informational tables all focused on the theme of global sustainability. The portabello mushroom burgers were part of a free vegetarian lunch.

Sarah Black, an organizer from the SEC, said, “It’s really good to celebrate our earth and everything about it.”

She spoke from behind the SEC’s informational table, which was covered with stickers and flyers promoting sustainability.

Ocean Robbins, founder and co-president of YES! (Youth for Environmental Sanity), spoke at the event. His speech covered everything, from an alphabetized list of high-school stereotypes to the politics of fruit-fly infestation.

After his speech, Robbins explained that when he was younger, “conversations about the future of life on earth were daily dinner conversations.”

His father, John Robbins, wrote the popular book “Diet for a New America.” Inspired by his family’s interest in sustainability, Ocean founded YES! when he was 16 years old.

According to the website,, YES! connects, inspires and empowers young change-makers to join forces and promote a thriving, just and sustainable way of life.

“The problems we face are all connected, and so are the solutions,” Ocean told City on a Hill Press. “Events like this are giving people resources and tools, giving people inspiration, and helping people celebrate being able to make a difference in our lives.”

While listening to music and speeches like Ocean’s, students and Santa Cruz residents painted flowerpots, decorated light switch covers and silk screened and tie-dyed T-shirts.

Laura Salcido, from the College Eight Programs Office, was a key event organizer.

“We wanted to make an event that was geared toward learning,” she explained, “that anybody would find appealing to come to.”

Joy Pehlke, also from the College Eight Programs Office, expressed a similar view.

“We wanted to try to make it accessible to the community,” she said. “We hope [attendants were] able to go to some of the workshops and learn something.”