An interview with Linda Hanlon ('86 BS, Environmental Communication)
on Kottman Hall's 20th Anniversary of Earth Day Banner
SENR: Were there events leading up to the creation of the banner?
Hanlon: The first Earth Day in 1970 always held special meaning for me.
It was a time to take a hard look at the impacts of chemicals, industrial pollution and population, on people, animals and ecosystems. We needed a more balanced approach which involved evaluating our lifestyles. And, I felt that Kottman Hall's two story wall spaces were perfect for artwork, and that with the anniversary of Earth Day coming, creating art that celebrated the connections between the College of Agriculture and its departments, the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service, and Earth Day, would have a positive impact.
SENR: What is the meaning of the banner or what does the banner symbolize or what message/story was it created to tell?
Hanlon: The banner shows the state of Ohio on an image of the globe, and it is a reminder that we are connected to others around the world. The blue, green and sunshine yellow colors represent essential life sustaining natural resources that include the land, plants, and energy from the sun. On the Ohio graphic is a yellow triangle, representing an understanding of life, such as Maslow's Theory, or the Food Triangle, and on the corners of the triangle are symbols for people, plants and the sun, which represent our need to understand sustainability, and to be a reminder that we are dependent on these natural resources.
The banner has two layers. The top layer features the earth, and behind it there is a second layer where ripples or waves can be seen. These layers imply natural complexities, like the water cycle and more specifically, water flowing in rivers, and in groundwater. The 20th Anniversary of Earth Day date and the groups who celebrated and hosted Earth Day for the College are noted on ripples of water on the back layer representing that what we learn and the natural conditions we study are always changing, like water in a stream. I think that later at the 30th Anniversary, another piece was added to the back layer to celebrate that occasion. I left the university the summer of 1990, so I'm not sure who organized the 30th celebration.
SENR: Who designed the banner and who was involved in its creation? Was it added onto after its initial creation?
Hanlon: I designed the banner, which was reviewed by various school and Cooperative Extension administration at the time. I had a local community banner artist make the banner from the design, and Kottman Hall building facilities staff designed the hanging system for it. I was a graphic designer in the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service, Office of Information and Communications (I don't recall the exact name of the office at that time). I had been working in that office in Kottman Hall since 1982 as a work study student, and then I was hired into the position after I graduated in 1986. So, although I was not a student at the time the banner was created, I did engage everyone in the participation of the event that was organized around the banner. I created the banner in two layers, and at the 30th Anniversary, the additional piece was added.
SENR: Who partnered or supported the creation of the banner?
Hanlon: I created a budget for the banner and the event, and then asked the different departments and schools within the College of Agriculture to donate to the event, so most of the funds were collected that way, including in-kind support from the Communications Office of Cooperative Extension. The partners are listed on the banner.
SENR: Was there a ceremony or activity surrounding its creation/hanging?
Hanlon: Yes. We had a beautiful day of activities in Kottman Hall which were open to everyone including the public. It included an awards ceremony, a few speakers, live music which was traditional music from India, and a huge Earth Day cake with the banner art on it and drinks in the lobby.
SENR: Any other thoughts you’d like to share on the banner?
Hanlon: I'm so glad you asked me about the banner, because at this time, Extension's Communication Office has just moved out of Kottman Hall, so for me, it's somewhat of a full circle moment now, as I reflect on that time. Kottman Hall, Cooperative Extension and the School of Natural Resources represented my home away from home while I was a student at OSU. I loved the time I spent in Kottman Hall, and the classroom time with other students, using the woodshop that we had at the time to build interpretive exhibits, and working with all the amazing professors and professionals both those with Extension appointments and those with full OSU status.
The banner represented an opportunity to bring all the different roles and research areas of concern into one symbolic piece of art, and to do it through the public awareness raising 20th Anniversary celebration of Earth Day. My degree is in Environmental Communications ('86), so the project was an application of what that meant for me.
Those large, two-story walls are still calling for artwork! So I hope that students and others in the building might consider perhaps two or four new 10x10 ft. pieces of artwork, one for each wall section to depict the four compass directions (and people living there) or four natural elements (earth, sky, water, fire/energy) honored by Native People throughout time, and which continue to guide the daily lives of people today. Creating and exhibiting artwork in a science setting, like Kottman Hall, reminds us that what we do is connected to others around the globe, and that we are not alone in our efforts. I hope that these ideas are always part of the legacy of the banner, and of the activities of Horticulture and Crop Science, Plant Pathology and the School of Environment and Natural Resources in Kottman Hall.
I also want to especially thank once again, my Environmental Communications advisor, Professor Emeritus, Dr. Rosanne Fortner, and the Extension Communications Office staff who supported this project.
This interview was conducted via email with Linda Hanlon by Molly Bean in November 2016 as part of the archival research in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University.