You are here: American University Community Relations Newsletter February 2020 Neighborhood Newsletter

AU in the Neighborhood

February 2020

Sustainability, Zero Waste Teams Spearhead Single-Use Plastic Reduction Campaign

Students signing a pledge to not use single-use plastics

This past November, interns from American University’s Office of Sustainability and the Zero Waste team spearheaded a university-wide waste reduction campaign. Students, faculty, and staff were asked to sign a pledge stating that they will use reusable forks, knives, and spoons instead of plastic utensils. 

The purpose of the campaign was to promote greater awareness and mindfulness of the negative environmental and health impacts of single-use plastics, and equip them with an easy tool – reusable utensils – to decrease their use.

“While it’s certainly important to sort waste on campus properly – a practice we employ currently – it’s even more important to reduce the amount of waste that our community generates in the first place,” said Tacy Lambiase, Sustainability Manager.

“Decreasing the use of single-use plastics on our campus will help AU reach its goal of becoming a zero waste campus.”

To encourage the 512 participants in AU’s community to adhere to their pledge, the Office of Sustainability gave them all a set of reusable, dishwasher-safe utensils made with wheat straw housed in a carrying case. If each of the 512 people uses their reusable utensils, they could save more than 57,000 plastic utensils from being used annually.

During the campaign, the Zero Waste team ran a social media challenge using the hashtag #ForkPlastic. Anyone who posted an Instagram story featuring themselves using their reusable utensils was eligible to win a Hydro Flask.

“If even one member of the AU community uses their reusable utensils around their friends, it encourages others to start using reusables. We want to equip our community with the tools to behave more sustainably and encourage their friends and family to engage with sustainability, too,” said Lambiase.

Sustainability Intern Kira Burba added, “Waste reduction campaigns, such as our efforts to reduce single-use plastics, are important because they help make the university community aware of their consumption. Once they realize the amount of waste they produce, they can make positive changes in their lives to effect change.”

Facts About Single-Use Plastics

  • Only nine percent of all plastic that has ever been created has actually been recycled.
  • More than 99 percent of plastic is produced with oil, natural gas, and coal – all fossil fuels.
  • The majority of plastic utensils are used only once and end up in landfills or in our environment.
  • The Ocean Conservancy, an environmental advocacy group, names plastic utensils as one of the most deadly kinds of ocean waste for sea life.
  • The production of plastic products, like utensils, creates toxic emissions. Low-income, vulnerable communities are affected disproportionally and experience higher rates of respiratory illnesses, as they tend to live in more affordable communities often located near plastic production plants.

Make AU Basketball a Part of Your February

AU Men's Basketball's 7th Annual Sustainability Awareness Game: American vs. Loyola. Wed. Feb. 12 at 7 p.m., Bender Arena

Make attending an AU Basketball game a part of your February to-do list. The men’s and women’s basketball seasons are in full effect, and now is your chance to see every jump shot, three-pointer, and win up-close and live.

Be a part of the stretch run of Patriot League play and catch all four remaining men’s home games in Bender Arena this February. For just $68 you get a sideline ticket to the following games:

  • February 8 vs. Army
  • February 12 vs. Loyola
  • February 19 vs. Navy
  • February 26 vs. Lafayette 

Purchase this special limited time offer at or call (202) 885-T-I-X-X by Friday February 7 to reserve your Eagles Men’s Basketball February 4-Pack today.

You also can catch the AU Women’s Basketball games with the “February Family Four Pack” on sale now for just $20. Bring the family to a Saturday afternoon matinee game in Bender this month. Purchase this online-only special offer at  Simply choose your game – Saturday, February 15, 22, or 29 – select two adult and two youth tickets, and use coupon code FAMPACK at checkout to receive more than 20 percent off your order.  

Then on February 12, join AU Athletics to celebrate the legacy of Earth Day on its 50th anniversary at the 7th Annual Sustainability Awareness Basketball Game versus Loyola University in Bender Arena. As a source of university pride and school spirit, this game has grown in affinity and meaning through the years. Game time is 7 p.m. To purchase tickets online, use the coupon code GREEN20 at and receive $5 off each adult ticket. AU undergrad, graduate, and WCL students are admitted free with valid AU ID.

Neighborhood Volunteers Needed For Air Quality Study

American University Professor Valentina Aquila’s atmospheric science lab is looking for volunteers for their new project to study the impacts of green spaces on air quality.

While it is often assumed that more green is always good, some studies with air quality models have found that, in cities, trees might actually increase pollution levels at “nose level.” The goal of the project is to collect data to verify or disprove these findings and, in the meantime, teach students about air pollution monitoring. 

To help collect data, neighborhood volunteers would host Purple Air air-quality monitors in their front yards.  Sensors, 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5 in. in size, would be hung on a pole, fence, or wall, and an outlet would be required to plug in the device and Wi-Fi to transmit data in real time for our students to analyze. 

If you are interested in participating in the research, please contact Prof. Valentina Aquila ( for more details and to learn about all the interesting science and educational opportunities that will be made possible by your participation. Please feel free to post to listservs and share with friends and neighbors in Ward 3.

Spring Brings AU’s Farmers’ Market Back To Campus

Farmer's market on campus

Every Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., AU’s farmers’ market is a fixture in the quad space around the Mary Graydon Center. Students, faculty, staff, and neighbors can browse goods ranging from farm-fresh vegetables to homemade breads and desserts.

The market is a coordinated effort between AU and Pennsylvania-based Agora Farms, an intermediary for bringing Amish and Mennonite and “English” farm goods to AU’s campus as well as to D.C.’s historic Eastern Market on Saturdays and Sundays.

RavenHook Bakehouse also offers a variety of fresh breads including raisin pecan, harvest grain, pain de campagne, jalapeno cheddar, sourdough, challah, whole wheat, focaccia, black Russian, NY rye, artisan baguettes, and tea breads, as well as chocolate chip cookies, mini pies, and cobblers.

In addition to supporting locally-grown food, the convenience of having fresh food right on campus makes it a great benefit not only to the campus community but to the surrounding neighborhood as well.

Calendar and Events

Cultural Events & Performances
Athletic Events

Cultural Events & Performances

Heroes & Losers: The Edification of Luis Lorenzana

Now through March 15
AU Katzen Museum

Luis Lorenzana is a self-taught Filipino artist whose background in politics has infused his work with a cynicism that belies his longing for a kinder, more equitable world. The exhibition touches on the themes of a desperate kind of selfless heroism – and the all-too familiar failure of a democratic political system. These works will have relevance to the current American landscape and, indeed, to anywhere in the world.

Communicating Vessels: Ed Bisese, Elyse Harrison, Wayne Paige

Now through March 15
AU Katzen Museum

The title of this exhibition is borrowed from a book written in 1932 by Surrealist poet André Breton, who in turn borrowed it from a scientific experiment of the same name. The experiment shows that in two vessels joined by a tube, a gas or liquid passing from one to the other rises to the same level, whatever the shape of the vessel. For Breton, the phrase refers to the artist, whether literary or visual, whose work results from communication between the inner life of the mind, emotions, and dreams, and the waking perception of the exterior world. The three artists in this exhibition all work from this premise, although with individual styles and imagery. While their work shows continuity with Surrealist ideas of the 1930s and ‘40s, it also relates to the Chicago Imagists of the 1960s and ‘70s, reflecting the prevalence of surrealist imagery in contemporary visual art. 

Landscape in an Eroded Field

Now through March 15
AU Katzen Museum

This exhibit brings together three women artists whose work reflects the evolution of the pictorial landscape tradition in the Anthropocene Era. Carol Barsha’s closely-observed nature studies and flowery landscapes are paired with Artemis Herber’s mythically-themed architectonic reliefs. These immersive paintings surround a site-specific installation and soundscape designed by Heather Theresa Clark, utilizing her environmental planning background. Depicting nature and the environment is one of the most ancient and elemental expressions of art. From cave painting to Dutch still lifes to social practice incorporating life forms, artists always have been attentive and responsive to the world around them. This exhibition spans landscape painting that takes no social or political stance to multi-media painting and sculpture that puts climate change at the center of its meaning.

Vokmar Wentz

Now through March 15
AU Katzen Museum

This exhibit shows the works of Volkmar Kurt Wentzel who arrived in Washington, DC, in the early 1930s. When the Great Depression led to prohibitive housing costs in DC, he moved to Aurora, West Virginia to join a community with Robert Gates and several other artists who had become close friends. In 1937, back in Washington, architect Erik Menke introduced Volkmar to a book titled Paris De Nuit (1933) by Brassaï, a French photographer. Volkmar was enchanted. He purchased a new camera and began photographing the series Washington by Night.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, out for a stroll one evening, encountered Volkmar and purchased several of his Washington pictures. Volkmar completed his Washington photographs and brought them to National Geographic. He was hired immediately. The event led to his 48-year photographic career as a National Geographic photographer.

Robert Franklin Gates: Paint What You See

Now through March 15
AU Katzen Museum

This exhibit showcases an adventurous artist who influenced greatly the course of Washington art from his arrival from Detroit in 1930, at the age of 24, until his death in 1982 as an AU Professor Emeritus. He was a muralist, painter, printmaker, draftsman, and professor at the Phillips Gallery School and then American University for more than forty years. His watercolors earned him early acclaim, signaled by their inclusion in the first very exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art when it opened in 1941. Gates’ paintings can be found in The Phillips Collection, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Dumbarton Oaks, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Legacy Collection, and the Watkins Memorial Collection at the American University Museum.

Good Form, Decorum, and in the Manner

Now through March 15
AU Katzen Museum

Portraits are usually understood in one of two ways: as the depiction of the face of a person, or a representation of someone's impression of a person. This exhibition comprises many works that could be thought of as conventional portraits of individuals in a wide range of media, including woodblock and wood engravings, intaglio prints, mezzotints, monoprints, photography, collage, and an assemblage made with found objects. The show also pushes the boundaries of portraiture by including works that capture the likenesses of animals, places, memories, and events. 

Good Form, Decorum, and in the Manner can also be considered a snapshot of the Washington Print Club today by celebrating the prized pieces its members have chosen to highlight. My curatorial interest also lies in the resulting overlaps, intersections, gaps, and dialogues between collectors' collections.

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
How the Sausage Really Gets Made: An Introduction to How the Public Policy Process Works

February 4, 4 – 5 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

Susan Molinari, strategist and former vice president of Google Public Affairs and a former member of Congress, will be joined by Joel Benenson, former pollster for Hillary Clinton, just one day after the Iowa Caucus. Joel will provide insight on the ins and outs of polling. Free to attend. To register:

Yoga in the Galleries

February 5, 12, 19, 26, 10 a.m.
AU Katzen Museum

Led by certified Kripalu Yoga teacher Eva Blutinger, this yoga class provides mental clarity and relaxation in the peaceful surroundings of our art galleries. Please bring a mat. Cost is $10 for non-members, $5 for museum members, and free for members at the Associates level and above.

AU Farmers' Market

February 5, 12, 19, 26, 10 a.m.
Quad Space in front of Mary Graydon Center

Every Wednesday, the quad space around the Mary Graydon building buzzes with activity as students, faculty, staff, and neighbors browse goods ranging from farm-fresh vegetables to homemade breads and desserts at the AU Farmers' Market. The market is a coordinated effort between AU and Pennsylvania-based Agora Farms. Girardot's Crumbs Bakery also offers a variety of fresh breads as well as chocolate chip cookies, mini pies, and cobblers.

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
The Path to the President’s Cabinet: My Personal Story

February 5, 5:30 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

Take a journey with Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under George W. Bush, as he navigates the steps in his career and the decisions made to lead him to one of the most prominent jobs in the country- a Cabinet Secretary in the U.S. Administration. What does it take, what are the obstacles, and what does it actually mean when you get the job. Hear first-hand about his path to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. From a young college student who marched in Selma, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King to a Presidential Cabinet member, he has a remarkable American story of overcoming obstacles. Free to attend. To register:

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
Setting the Table for Change

February 6, 5 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

Join four-time James Beard award-winning TV personality Andrew Zimmern, and Pamela Hess, the Executive Director of Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, for a discussion about how to bring about a sustainable, equitable, and accessible food system. James Beard award-winning journalist Allison Aubrey, the Food & Health Correspondent for NPR News, will lead Zimmern and Hess in a conversation their work with veterans and farmers, and a variety of solutions focused on the power of food to change lives. Free to attend. To register:

Gallery Talk: Volkmar Wentzel

February 8, 4 p.m.
Katzen Museum

AU Museum Director Jack Rasmussen and curator Leah Bendavid-Val discuss the life and work of long-time National Geographic photographer Volkmar Wentzel. Free and open to all, no RSVP required.

Katzen Docent-led Tour

February 9, 16, 25, 2 – 3 p.m.
Katzen AU Museum

A docent-led tour of one or more of our current exhibitions. No RSVP required. Please meet at the front desk.

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
Lend Me Your Ears: Speechwriting Master Class

February 10, 5 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

What makes a good speech, and how do you write one? In this seminar, chief Obama speechwriter Cody Keenan will squeeze nine college-level speechwriting classes into just a couple hours. From planning and researching a speech to writing and editing one, tricks of the trade will be examined that go into persuasive, memorable, compelling speeches – and why speeches still matter. Joining the seminar will be Terry Szuplat, Senior Director of Speechwriting, White House National Security Council; Director of Speechwriting, Secretary of Defense. Free to attend. To register:

Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color

February 12, 1 – 2 p.m.
Kay Spiritual Life Center

A conversation with author Reverend Khristi L. Adams

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
Event name: The Important Role of the Executive Branch

February 12, 5:30 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 311

Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under George W. Bush, will focus on the Executive branch, it’s constitutional role, how does it function on a day-to-day basis, and the interaction and sometimes friction between the White House and the Executive branch departments and agencies. Jackson will be joined by Brian Montgomery, Acting Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development under George W. Bush.  Free to attend. To register:

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
Enemy of Democracy: Foreign or Domestic?

February 12, 5 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

Led by John Tass-Parker, head of Politics and Government at Instagram, this seminar will explore a range of historical case examples that illustrate the complex relationship between democratic process and mass communication. It also will investigate in greater detail the developing set of tools and tactics available to foreign, domestic, state, and non-state actors to affect elections. With a more developed understanding of these pressing issues, the seminar will analyze current policy responses and evaluate opportunities for greater intervention by industry, regulators and government. Free to attend. To register:

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
Break on Through: The Modern Political Media Environment

February 17, 5 p.m.

Kerwin Hall, Room 301

How has the political media environment changed since the days of three nightly newscasts and the morning paper? How has it changed in just the past four years? In this seminar, chief Obama speechwriter Cody Keenan will examine how successful political campaigns have navigated changing media environments, and how others have been caught flatfooted. Free to attend. To register:

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
On the Ground: The Life of a Political Embed

February 18, 7:15 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

Janet Rodriquez, a White House correspondent with Univision, will explore how young journalists aspiring for a career in covering politics spend a year or more on the ground with a candidate, living out of a suitcase, and hoping to make it to Election Day. Free to attend. To register:

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
So You Think You Want to Campaign? Exploring Successful Strategies for Office and Life

February 25, 5 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

Susan Molinari, strategist and former vice president of Google Public Affairs and a former member of Congress, will discuss the elements necessary for a successful campaign, whether it’s a campaign for office, to pass legislation, to promote your company’s reputation, or to get the job you want. She will be joined by Sine Director Amy Dacey who will add her perspective on these subjects and why relationships, regardless of political party, are the most important ingredients in your life. Free to attend. To register:

The Sine Institute of Policy & Politics Seminar Series
The Fight for Fair Wage

February 27, 5 p.m.
Kerwin Hall, Room 301

Cities and states around the country are considering raising the minimum wage “the right way” for tipped wage workers, which includes restaurant servers and bartenders. The issue is polarizing. On one hand, chefs and restaurant owners say they can’t afford to eliminate what they call the “tip credit.” On the other hand, advocates argue that tipped workers are subject to sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Join Katherine Miller, vice president of Impact, the James Beard Foundation, for a discussion about the national organizing efforts to raise the federal wage. Free to attend. To register:

Gallery Talk: Eroded Field

February 29, 4 p.m.
AU Katzen Museum

Join the artists and curator Laura Roulet in a dialogue about the multi-media exhibition Eroded Field, which explores humanity’s shifting relationship with nature. Free and open to all, please RSVP.

Athletic Events

Men’s Basketball vs. Army West Point

February 8, 2 – 4 p.m.
Bender Arena

Wrestling vs. Bucknell University

February 9, 2 – 4 p.m.
Bender Arena

Men’s Basketball vs. Loyola University

February 12, 7 – 9 p.m.
Bender Arena

Women’s Lacrosse vs. St. Francis (PA) University

February 15, 12- 2 p.m.
Jacobs Field

Women’s Basketball vs. Bucknell University

February 15, 2 – 4 p.m.
Bender Arena

Women’s Lacrosse vs. Delaware State

February 19, 3 – 5 p.m.
Jacobs Field

Men’s Basketball vs. United States Naval Academy

February 19, 7 – 9 p.m.
Bender Arena

Women’s Basketball vs. Boston University

February 22, 2 – 4 p.m.
Bender Arena

Men’s Basketball vs. Lafayette College

February 26, 7 – 9 p.m.
Bender Arena

Women’s Lacrosse vs. LIU Brooklyn

February 29, 12 p.m.
Jacobs Field