“Think globally, act locally,” has been the catchphrase and key idea of Earth Day since its grassroots inception in 1970.
Western took part in that initial 1970 consciousness raising movement and will be celebrating its 28 Earth Day this year. This event focuses on getting the community involved in local clean up of parks and holds an annual celebration afterwards. While Earth Day is typically celebrated on April 22 this year it will be a three day extravaganza with events falling on April 19, 20 and 21, co-coordinator of the AS Environmental Center Kayla Henson said.
The mission of this year's Earth Day is harkening back to its grassroots beginnings with the theme being “local knowledge, innovation, and imagination: sharing ideas for the future,” Henson said.
“The hope this year is to highlight traditional knowledge as important in understanding our interaction with the earth,” she said.
The celebration will start with service learning in the morning sponsored by the New Student Service Family Outreach office. Free continental breakfast will be offered prior to the morning of service work at 8:30 a.m. in the plaza of the Performing Arts Center (PAC). The service project, which has been in place for four years, will last until noon.
Coordinator of New Student Services and Family Outreach Byron Ford said incoming students want to get involved with community service events this day provides them with an opportunity to meet new people and see some of Bellingham beyond the campus. The day is also open to the greater community in hopes of better connecting Western with Bellingham.
This year the volunteers will be going to five different sites around the community: Lowell Park, Franklin Park, Squalicum Creek Park, Civic Field Forest and Memorial Park. A shuttle will be provided to those sites outside of walking distance. To reach the program's goal, 150 volunteers are needed to remove invasive species, gravel a new trail and mulch, Ford said.
After all of the ivy and blackberries are pulled and the gravel is raked everyone is invited to the PAC plaza for the annual Earth Day Festival put on by the AS Environmental Center, Henson said. The event will include music, speakers, vendors, arts and craft tables, as well as numerous clubs and community organizations that will fill up the PAC plaza with activity.
Some of last years popular activities included a re-art table which contained a conglomeration of old items such as paint, silverware, and wires that could be fashioned into new pieces of art as well as vendors selling environmentally friendly clothing. There was also a table in which participants could fashion their own carrying containers to fit on their bicycles, Henson said.
This year Henson hopes for Earth Day to foster a sense of local community and do-it-yourself anti-consumerism with a barter fair that will be set up in the plaza. This fair will include a free pile and some open exchange tables as well as places for people to barter for recycled items.
Their will also be a mask making booth next to the re-art table in which you can fashion a mask of your favorite animal for a mini Procession of the Species march around the plaza, Environmental Center co-coordinator Casey Clark said. Procession of the Species is a community parade held annually on the first Saturday in March in which attendees dress up as animals, Clark explained. The parade is put on by Start Here Community Arts in an effort to create community and celebrate the environment. Clark said that the Environmental Center encourages people to wear their masks on the actual date of Earth Day, April 22, as well as during the large Procession of the Species march in May.
The Recycle Center will also have a table called “Label Yourself A Recycler” in which people can bring their own t-shirt which will be flipped inside out and stamped with the recycling centers logo. Local music from Pacific Graveyard and others will play in the plaza interspersed with speakers on the topic of rediscovering and utilizing traditional knowledge.
On April 20 the first annual Earth Day 5K and Alumni Run will be held. This idea was brought to the AS Environmental Center by the new AS club The Roadrunners and will start at 10 p.m. in the PAC Plaza. Sign up forms are in the bookstore and are currently $17 dollars for students, $20 for non-students. Each participant will get an organic cotton t-shirt and a sapling to plant and the proceeds will go to WWU track and the Mangrove Action Project, which is dedicated to reversing the loss of mangrove forest ecosystems worldwide, according to their Web site.
The Environmental Center will also be co-hosting the Rilo Kiley concert with ASP Pop on April 21, just one day before Earth Day.
“I am very excited for this concert,” Henson said. “It will be a great way to kick off Earth Week.”