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Putting the spotlight on Earth Day

Posted: April 3rd, 2015 | Features, Special Events, Top Story | No Comments

By Dave Fidlin | Contributor

New and returning events emphasize importance of caring for the planet

Two events — one celebrating its silver anniversary, the other taking place for the first time — are among the Earth Day-themed programs planned this month in San Diego.

San Diego EarthWorks, which has roots going back to 1989 as the San Diego Earth Day Coalition, will hold the 2015 edition of its EarthFair program in mid-April with a mixture of tried-and-true favorites with a touch of a few new surprises.

Carolyn Chase, co-founder and CEO of San Diego EarthWorks, said she and other organizers aim to offer visitors a different experience each year. The upcoming EarthFair will offer such stalwart activities as the kick-off parade, a wide range of exhibitors and entertainment.

[DOWNTOWN] Earth Day 2015 (4)webtop

Two 2014 attendees marvel at a 16-inch replica of the planet that features NASA satellite imagery. (Courtesy EarthWorks)

But this year’s program will offer a number of new features as well, including a demonstration and food-sampling event — spearheaded by the nonprofit organization San Diego 350 — called the Garden of Eating.

In addition to spotlighting the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet, leaders of San Diego 350 will discuss how livestock agriculture impacts climate change and water consumption.

Another new feature this year will put the spotlight on the emerging craft beer brewing phenomenon in San Diego. For the first time, EarthFair will include a beer garden, and a number of local brewers will be on hand to share their brews.

The EarthFair 25th anniversary happens to be the same year as Balboa Park’s centennial celebration. Chase said the coincidental intermingling has provided for some unique opportunities, including an activity entailing planting greenery in select areas, such as the butterfly gardens.

“You don’t get to help Balboa Park very often, so this is a really unique opportunity,” she said.

San Diego EarthWorks also is teaming up with another nonprofit group, the Art Bench Project, to commemorate Balboa Park’s milestone birthday. The two groups will give attendees an opportunity to paint park benches. They will be on display throughout the remainder of the year.

“I’m a person who’s long believed we need more park benches, not fewer,” Chase said. “They’re social places. They’re urban furniture.”

EarthFair 2014 attendees participate in an activity known as the Sea of Plastics demonstrating the dangers of polluting public waterways. (Photo courtesy EarthFair)

EarthFair 2014 attendees participate in an activity known as the Sea of Plastics demonstrating the dangers of polluting public waterways. (Photo courtesy EarthFair)

San Diego EarthWorks holds assorted events throughout the year. Since its introduction in 1990, EarthFair has been the organization’s marquee program.

While EarthFair is perhaps, one of the most well-known Earth Day events in the area, Chase readily admits there are other events and activities taking place throughout the community that help remind people of the importance of adopting sustainable practices.

“We don’t own Earth Day,” Chase said. “But we do encourage people to recognize it in any way possible.”

For the first time, San Diegans can also celebrate Earth Day along the shores of the Pacific Ocean this year.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is teaming up with more than a dozen organizations for its inaugural Earth Day on the Bay program. A sampling of partnering groups include the Living Coast Discovery Center, San Diego Coastkeeper, Sea World San Diego and the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Robyn Gallant, the museum’s events director, said she began planning for an Earth Day-themed event about six months ago out of a perceived need in the community.

“While there is a lot of attention out there on the importance of composting and recycling, there isn’t much out there with a water component,” Gallant said. “Our goal is to have a fun, intergenerational event with a number of hands-on exhibitors.”

By virtue of its location and mission statement, the museum’s Earth Day on the Bay event will put the spotlight on the importance of water conservation.

There are many activities for kids. (Photo courtesy EarthFair)

There are many activities for kids. (Photo courtesy EarthFair)

Gallant said her idea for the program started small, but quickly swelled as she put out feelers and received a flood of responses from related organizations interested in partnering with the museum.

“The evolution of this event really happened organically,” she said. “We’re excited.”

While Gallant and other museum staffers remain in a “wait-and-see” mode, she said the goal is to make Earth Day on the Bay an annual event.

San Diego EarthWorks’ 25th anniversary EarthFair will take place from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. April 19 at Balboa Park, centered on the Plaza de Panama. For more information, visit earthdayweb.org or call 858-272-7370. Admission is free.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego’s first-ever Earth Day on the Bay takes place April 26, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. along the Embarcadero at 1492 N. Harbor Drive. For more information, visit sdmaritime.org or call 619-234-9153, ext. 101. Admission is free.

—Dave Fidlin has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years and has contributed to a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites across the nation. He has a special affinity for San Diego and its people. Contact him at dave.fidlin@thinkpost.net.

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