It’s that time of year. Life gets in the way, time runs out and you’re forced to make a last-minute stop at the convenience store to pick up cheap chocolates and mass-produced cards for the special people in your life.
This Valentine’s Day, Western Washington University’s environmental and sustainability programs have an alternative for the people scrambling to find the perfect way to express their love.
Natalie Harris, Western ESP coordinator, said she wanted to find a way to bring local artists to Western’s campus. There will be cards, jewelry and stickers for sale, all handmade by over 30 artists and community members.
“Supporting local artists is a great way to strengthen ties to your community,” Harris said. “Art is an under-appreciated aspect of environmental activism. It’s not all science.”
Harris also pointed out how supporting local artists can lessen the negative impact Valentine’s Day has on the planet.
“Many people buy things for the holiday that get discarded without much use,” Harris said. “I hope the market will encourage people to support their community members rather than big box stores.”
Ten percent of the market’s proceeds will be going to the Lummi Island Heritage Trust. Sofija Edgar, Birdhouse Market’s organizer and social media manager, is the one who discovered the LIHT and chose to donate to them.
The trust partners with community members to help establish nature preserves on Lummi Island. According to the trust's website, they have conserved 1,095 acres of land.
“Since the market is based around helping the environment, we wanted to look for [a cause] that supports local land in the Whatcom county area,” Edgar said. “We were inspired by LIHT’s desire to preserve forests, farmland, wetlands and shorelines on the Lummi Island.”
Emma Larson, one of the vendors selling art at the market, said they’re more than happy to be participating in an event that is supporting local preservation efforts.
“I think [donating] 10% was a really good decision,” Larson said. “I’m glad we’re supporting Indigenous communities.”
Larson participated in Birdhouse’s Halloween art market and is looking forward to connecting with Western’s on-campus community during their last quarter as a student. They will be selling their designs screen printed onto thrifted shirts, vinyl stickers and art prints.
Larson is among 33 other vendors who will be selling at the art market, the largest group of artists Birdhouse has ever hosted at one of their markets. This will also be the first time Birdhouse holds a market on Western’s campus.
This is Western ESP’s first solo event of the year. You can find a list of their Earth Week events here. The Lummi Island Heritage Trust is also looking for volunteers for an upcoming tree-planting event on Saturday, March 18, and Sunday, March 19. If you’re interested in participating, send an RSVP to Abby Brostrom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aubrey Black (she/they) is a second-year news-ed major at Western. She enjoys making Spotify playlists and perusing used bookstores.
You can contact her at email@example.com.