Student’s environmental activism results in appearance on radio

Lars Lonnroth, Managing Editor of Breaking News and Multimedia Content

Over the past summer, Desa Bolger ‘19 began looking up at the sky—but not just for herself. She was doing it for the greater good.

Bolger, with her interests in communication and environmental science, got involved with the local environmentalist organization the Sky Day Project, running some of their social media accounts. The organization aims to encourage people to recognize the beauty of the sky and also raise conversations about our environment, Bolger said.

“What they’re trying to do is to connect art and science,” she said. “How do you find the beauty in nature and get back to recognizing that beauty, and how do we connect what is going on in nature and how it happens?”

In describing the organization, Sky Day Project founder Ben Whitehouse echoed many of those ideas.

“Our mission is to inspire the next generation to take a real interest in our sky. What’s going on up there? What’s the science behind it? Why it is so important and why should care about it?” Whitehouse said. “And also how it is so important that the next generation come together across cultures and borders and collaborate on positive outcomes with climate?”

To break down those borders, the Sky Day Project aggregates photos of the sky, taken from around the world—submitted through the project’s website social media accounts—and then displays them on their website.

But the website also provides information about why it is the way it is.

“It doesn’t hurt that our sky is beautiful and dynamic. It brings us all together as one global family living and breathing under one shared sky,” Whitehouse said. “These are all things that make it possible to talk about the difficult topic of climate change in a new and inspiring and positive way.”

Bolger also curates Sky-kus, three-lined Haiku poems but with a focus on global warming and the environment. When someone submits a Sky-ku, she often posts them on the project’s Instagram (@skydayproject). These efforts aim to encourage people to think more about nature and the planet, Bolger said.

“You’re taking pictures of the sky but also why is it like that?” Bolger said. “It serves as an inspiration but it’s also, great you’re inspired.  Now, what can we do?”

Whitehouse said that Bolger really took advantage of the opportunities working on the Sky Team.

“She has brought tons to the table,” Whitehouse said. “She has advised me on almost every initiative. She has created and designed some of them, like our Instagram page. She’s done a great deal with our Twitter… I have found her to be a really good advisor.”

As a part of her volunteering with the Sky Day Project, she was also invited to speak on the local public radio program Worldview, produced at Chicago’s WBEZ.

According to Worldview’s Website, the program—which is syndicated and broadcasted on a few other public radio stations in the midwest—has interviewed many prominent individuals such as the Dalai Lama and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. And now they also interviewed Bolger, too.

The interview with Bolger and the rest of the Sky Team as they call themselves—which Bolger noted is composed of a nobel prize winner, a Northwestern professor and even an astronaut— aired on Sept. 18 on WBEZ in Chicago.

“I’ve never been in a room with all these geniuses before,” Bolger said. “And I was like I’m still 17.”

Bolger and the rest of the Sky Team appeared on the program to raise awareness of their organization but also to promote Sky Day which took place Sept. 21.