EarthX: Coexisting With Nature, Mobile Greenhouse & Workplace Design

Attendees could explore careers in science, technology, education, art, and math as well as learn more about university sustainability projects and tips to become more ecofriendly.

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EarthX, the world’s largest environmental festival, included exhibitors from a number of universities and other educational groups this past weekend at Fair Park in Dallas. 

Attendees could explore careers in science, technology, education, art, and math as well as learn more about university sustainability projects and tips to become more ecofriendly. High school and college students gathered this weekend for EarthxHack, the world’s largest green hackathon. And, Dallas nonprofit talkSTEM brought its walkSTEM program to Fair Park pointing out STEM in everyday surroundings.

HUMANITY & NATURE: COEXISTING IN THE WORLD

A panel Saturday delved into “How Audubon is Changing the World.” 

Suzanne Langley, executive director of Dallas-based Audubon Texas, began the panel by explaining rewilding, something all three speakers are very focused on in their work.

“For me, it’s just really simple, it’s restoring to a natural and uncultivated state. Sometimes that’s habitat and sometimes that is getting a species reintroduced, sometimes that’s restoring a river to its natural flow,” Langley said. 

“What we have to realize in urban ecology is that we don’t have any more new space in our cities, so how do we make the most of the space that we have?”

Suzanne Langley

And why should we care about rewilding?

“What we have to realize in urban ecology is that we don’t have any more new space in our cities, so how do we make the most of the space that we have?” Langley said. 

Greg Porter, city manager for Cedar Hill, expounded on the idea of rewilding with friends — meaning getting everyone involved, educating, and collaborating with as many communities as possible.

Porter believes Cedar Hill could serve as an example for other cities in its environmentally conscious efforts.

“The city has planned itself in such a way where there will be ways for neighborhoods, businesses, and the outside world to interconnect to everywhere else in the city without having to use a car,” Porter said.

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A panel Saturday delved into “How Audubon is Changing the World.” From left: Kevin Sloan, UTA; Greg Porter, city of Cedar Hill; Suzanne Langley, Audubon Texas; and Angela Hunt, former Dallas city council member. [Photo: Taylor Lowder]

Teamwork between communities is key to Cedar Hill and the rest of Dallas-Fort Worth making a positive environmental impact as well, according to Porter.

“I think establishing collaborative partnerships with folks who really understand how important it is, how to be able to communicate that, and, frankly, how to put the resources together to be able to ensure that it can be preserved, but also accessed in a way that the community understands is valuable,” Porter said. 

University of Texas at Arlington assistant professor Kevin Sloan, who teaches in the School of Architecture, impressed the idea of continuing to converge humanity and nature in Dallas — something that has already begun with the bobcats that have become fixtures throughout the city.

“A couple academic of units are putting radio collars on urban wildcats and tracking them going through our watershed network. Some of these wildcats are going up in some of the toniest neighborhoods of Dallas … We’ve built, deliberately or indeliberately, a new kind of city forum that allows civilization and wildlife to coexist.”

SMU’S MOBILE GREENHOUSE; UNT EDUCATES ON HEALTHY WORKPLACE DESGIN

The University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design booth featured posters advising how to manage stress in the workplace, air quality with indoor plants, wellness, and more. Attendees could put on a virtual reality headset to immerse themselves inside a space featuring adaptable workplace design.

In 2017, Southern Methodist University’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity unveiled Evie, a trailer it repurposed into a mobile, automated, and low-cost greenhouse.  The transit concept was designed for growing healthy foods that could be helpful for communities facing food insecurity or limited access to nutritious foods. 

“It can go anywhere it needs and it’s constructed using some 3-D printed parts, but generally lower-cost parts, too,” said Mason Intlekofer, chairman-elect of the Sustainability Committee at SMU.

The greenhouse returned to this year’s event to debut phase two of the project, which focuses on honing Evie’s sustainability. SMU students are looking at how Evie can use less water, less soil, and all around less resources to weaken the environmental impact.

“All the engineers have to do a senior capstone project — one of them is the feasibility of getting this solar powered,” Intlekofer said.  

READ NEXT

Learn about a few local startups who exhibited at the EarthX Innovation Expo.

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