Live, play and win Green: ‘Mobilize the Earth’
More than 1 billion people set to celebrate Earth Day around the globe
By Rosemary Fetter
On April 22, most Americans observe Earth Day, a celebration of the environment and resource conservation. However, two different Earth Days have been formally recognized in this country, both initiated in 1970, for slightly different reasons.
The first celebration, held on or around March 20, comes at the spring equinox, when the sun crosses the equator, and day and night are the same length all over the world. (Technically, according to National Geographic, the days of equal night and day come slightly before the vernal equinox in March and after the autumnal equinox in September. Much depends on where you happen to be standing at the time.) A brief moment rather than an entire day, this year the spring equinox took place on March 20 at 1:14 a.m., the earliest in more than the century.
Ancient people took note of the equinox phenomenon, holding feasts and celebrations that included Alban Elfed, the Teutonic festival, the Celtic celebration honoring the goddesses Eostre, Roman Hilaria Matris Deûm, Welsh Gwyl Canol Gwenwynol (Day of the Gorse), the Wiccan Eostar (Ostara) Sabbat and the Catholic Feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, this year held on March 26..Easter derives from these celebrations, although, Christians have made this a movable holiday, occurring any time between March 22 and April 23. The equinox heralds the blossoming of spring in the northern and autumn officially begins in the southern hemisphere.
The concept of global Earth Day at the spring equinox originated with Denverite John McConnell, who introduced the idea at a UNESCO conference on the environment in 1969. (McConnell also developed the Earth Charter along with anthropologist Margaret Meade.) The first Earth Day proclamation, issued by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto on March 21, 1970, was an occasion for ceremonies, street fairs and a toast to Mother Earth. (Since this was the “Age of Aquarius,” the flower children were blossoming in that city.) During the apex of the Vietnam War, with the country in a state of upheaval, Earth Day originated in support of the peace movement, as a time to bring all nations of the world together in harmony.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead said at the time, “Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national boarders yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord…”
On Feb. 26, 1971, U.N. Secretary General U Thant proclaimed an International Earth Day, and that ceremony has continued ever since on the date of the vernal equinox.
This Earth Day would be adopted by the United Nations, which still observes that date, although it also recognizes environmental efforts of April 22. Seven years ago, former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper issued a proclamation honoring John McConnell, who “has devoted much of his life to the pursuit of peace, happiness for all people and the protection of our planet Earth,” and naming March 20, 2005, Denver’s Earth Day.
The April 22 Earth Day, which is the official date observed in the United States, originated in September 1969 at a Seattle conference, when Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson brought environmentalism into the national spotlight after a visit to the terrible Santa Barbara oil spill earlier that year.
Although mainstream America remained oblivious to looming environmental catastrophe, Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962 provided the impetus for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries. Following her lead, Nelson organized a national celebration in an effort to popularize political support for strong environmental measures, mobilizing more than 20 million people, mostly students, who took to the streets in peaceful support. Later recognized as World Environment Day by President Jimmy Carter, April 22 held significance for organizers for various reasons.
The date marks the birthday of J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska Territory pioneer who held the earliest Arbor Day celebration in the 1850s by planting trees on the dry plains. This was also the birthday of actor Eddie Albert, known for his early work in environmental causes. Interestingly, some of the early organizers thought conservationist John Muir was born April 22, although his birthday was actually April 21. Russian dictator Vladmir Lenin was born April 22, leading a minority in the midst of the Vietnam War to suspect that Earth Day was a subversive Communist plot.
Whatever the significance, this grassroots celebration marked the official birth of the environmental movement, mobilizing groups that had been fighting against pesticides, oil spills, air pollution, nuclear power plants and the extinction of wildlife into a common effort to recognize the fragility of our environment before it’s too late.
By the year 2000, global warming had become the issue, and activists used the Internet to band more than 5,000 environmental groups together to push for clean energy. Last year’s Earth Day was the most successful on record, with an estimated billion people around the world participating. This year, the theme is “Mobilize the Earth,” with major events planned all over the globe. The main event of the Earth Day celebration will take place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where civic leaders and celebrities will join hundreds of thousands of environmentally-conscious demonstrators for this special event to galvanize the environmental movement.
For complete information, visit www.earthday.org/2012.
EARTH WORLD EVENTS
Earth Day Celebration
Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Garden of the Gods Visitor Center and Nature Center, 1805 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs
Earth Day activities include Live animals, chemical magic shows, guided nature walks, flower seed planting, trash clean-up, interactive water table with insta-snow making, pelts and skulls table, and electronics, battery and regular recycling stations plus more!
For more information and to register for trash clean-up, please call (719) 219-0108.
The Garden of the Gods Nature and Visitor Center will host the Colorado Water 2012 display during the entire month of April. Share in free education programs and help spread understanding and awareness about our precious water resource. Info: www.gardenofgods.com
2012 Earth Day Fair
Wednesday, April 18, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Denver City & County Building Plaza,
1437 Bannock St.
This year’s Earth Day Fair will highlight the actions and investments that residents and businesses can make to save money and reduce their impact on the environment. These win-win savings activities include reducing consumption of energy, fuel and water.
The fair will be a Zero Waste event with recycling and composting services provided by Denver Solid Waste Management and Denver Recycles.
Denver’s 2012 Earth Day Fair is FREE and open to the general public. We especially encourage residents, employees, teachers and students in or near downtown Denver to stop by the event. Businesses and nonprofit organizations who provide conservation services, equipment and other resources or who have made these investments themselves will be featured. In addition, several City agencies will be represented.
Join the Earth Day Denver community online at www.facebook.com/earthdaydenver.
Celebrate Earth Day 2012
Sunday, April 22, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science,
2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver
Join the museum for earth-friendly family fun with the SCFD Community Free Day. Enjoy great family-friendly offerings, including face painting, GeoDome shows, crafts, renewable energy activities, children’s theater and more.
Bring in your household batteries to recycle at the museum, and bring in your own reusable shopping bag to save an additional 10 percent off your purchase in the Museum Shop (not including books, CDs, DVDs, or the Lizards & Snakes shop). Info: www.dmns.com.
Saturday, April 21, 12:30–2 p.m.
Audubon Center at Chatfield
9308 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton
Free event to learn how you can help take care of the environment and make crafts out of recycled art. Info: 303-973-9530 or info@denver
Earth Week 2012 and 23rd Mountain Area Earth Day Fair
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Evergreen Lake House, 29614 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen,
This year’s Earth Week will kick off a series of exciting events ranging from a children’s evening to a town hall meeting and a featured speaker evening and culminate with an Earth Day Fair.
Earth Day Expo
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Lakewood›s Heritage Center,
801 S. Yarrow St., Lakewood
Spring into Green 2012 is a one-day event showcasing companies, agencies and organizations that provide products, services, resources and information for attendees to make more sustainable choices.
Enjoy The Kid’s Zone, face painting, a bird›s of prey exhibit featuring live birds, museum tours, art displays, sustainability exhibits and demonstrations, educational displays, green living tips and more.
Earth Day activities are organized by the city of Lakewood Employees› Committee for a Sustainable Lakewood. Info: 303-987-7431 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Earth Day 2012
Sunday, April 22, 1 – 5 p.m.
Bluff Lake Nature Center, 3400 Way, Denver
Enjoy guest speakers, arts and crafts, prizes, food, live music from Ricky Rodriguez and the Pick-Ups, and many more fun, educational, earth-friendly activities. There will be a live raptor presentation, children’s musical and a kid’s energy skit. Info: www.blufflakenaturecenter.org.
Earth Day Celebration
Sunday, April 22, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver
Come to the Gardens on Earth Day and enjoy free admission, thanks to SCFD. Highlights include participation in the Cherry Blossom Blitz and an appearance by Denver Bike Sharing with information on biking to the gardens, including to summer concerts (there is a B-cycle station right outside our main entrance). Info: www.botanicgardens.org.
State parks celebrate Earth Day
Celebrate the outdoors and everything you love about it at one of the many Earth Day events planned in Colorado State Parks on April 21 and April 22. Colorado’s state parks have been celebrating Earth Day since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Earth Day was created to inspire the public to take better care of the environment and take pride in clean water, air, land and other natural resources.
All programs are free. Park entry is $7 for a day pass or $70 for an annual pass.
General info: www.parks.state.co.us
Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Scout Hut in Riverside Park, Sackett Avenue in Salida
Join the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area and Salida Recreation in one of all programs: Recycling and worms; live birds of prey from the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo; Human Impact in Shangrila, a presentation by Masood Ahmad of Adams State College. Info: 719-539-7289.
Castlewood Canyon State Park
Sunday, April 22, 9 a.m. – noon
Join Castlewood Canyon volunteer naturalist/geologist Scott Knight for an Earth Day hike. Meet at the Canyon Point parking lot picnic pavilions for this 2- to 3-hour, moderately strenuous hike. Reservations: 303-688-5242.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Sunday, April 22, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Enjoy snacks from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. during a volunteer open house at the visitor center, then lend a hand for a volunteer project from 1 – 3 p.m. Details and reservations: 303-582-3707.
Lake Pueblo State Park
Sunday, April 22, 9 a.m. – noon
Everyone in the family can help clean up this much-loved park. Meet at the Lake Pueblo Quail Run Group Picnic Area, located between the visitor center and the South Shore Marina. Refreshments will be served, park entrance fees are waived for volunteers, and prizes will be given away. Don’t forget your work boots, hat, sunscreen, gloves and water. Info: 719-561-9320.
Lathrop State Park
Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Volunteers of all ages and abilities can improve shoreline habitat and fishing access by removing Russian olive and cleaning up the area. Food will be provided. Sign up: 719-738-2376 or email@example.com.
Roxborough State Park
Sunday, April 22 at 9 a.m.
Join Naturalist Peter Laux on a 3-mile hike on the South Rim Trail to view the rocks that show the area’s fascinating geologic history. Learn what makes the Earth such a hospitable planet. Reservations: 303-973-3959.
Trinidad Lake State Park
Saturday, April 21 at 1 p.m.
Volunteers can help plant more than 100 trees and kids can take color photos to celebrate Earth Day. T-shirts and prizes will be awarded.Details and reservations: 719-846-6951