Posted by lemonjelly on:
Earth Day is this coming weekend, on Sunday the 22nd of April to be precise, and events are already underway to celebrate it. Everyone knows about Earth Day, it’s celebrated in over 175 countries. But not everyone remembers its origins, it’s just always been there, right?
What many Santa Barbarans might not know is that our little town conceived Earth Day. Really? Our town known more for idyllic year-round sunshine, bad soap operas, celebrities and the quiet rich living behind high stucco walls, this inspired Earth Day? Fact! You can thank the oil spill of 1969, which catalyzed the modern environmentalist movement, including Earth Day. At that time it was the worst in America’s history (Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez have since taken the #1 and #2 spots, moving the SB spill to #3) and still remains the worst to have occurred in California. Approximately 100,000 barrels of oil spilled out from Union Oil’s Platform A, spreading along the Southern California coast out to the Channel Islands. I grew up in Santa Barbara and a typical day at the beach in the 70s ended with my parents cleaning my feet with paint thinner to remove the blotches of tar sticking underneath. Maybe you remember this, too.
Shortly after the oil spill, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin visited Santa Barbara. Being an environmental and conservation activist, he witnessed the local devastation and Washington’s meager attempts to address it and was outraged. It was he who proposed the first Earth day, as a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university in the United States, on 22 April, 1970. He paired up with Republican Rep Paul McCloskey and they created the non-profit, Environmental Teach-In, to generate interest and participation in the event. That first year, 20 million Americans participated and it’s been growing ever since with half a billion people around the world now estimated as participating.
Recognition of Earth Day succeeds because of its grassroots level of organization. It self-organizes, or to use the new keywords: it’s gone viral. So many people have concerns on some level about our environment, it could be damage on a large immediate devastating level like an oil spill, or something more localized like raw sewage, pesticides in riverbeds or on our food, plastic grocery bags choking fauna or collecting in landfills. Or something that’s been simmering and growing for years, like climate change. You jaded folk may roll your eyes at how many corporate personhoods are jumping on the bandwagon of greenwashing their business, but it does build awareness and awareness is the first step towards taking action.
Remember: think globally, act locally. This weekend Santa Barbara officially celebrates Earth Day at Alameda Park. Come on out to learn about green initiatives local companies are taking, visit the booths of eco-driven non-profits and companies that creates products and services that are environmentally friendly, see some bands, eat some yummy food. And walk or ride your bike to the event. Be social. Santa Barbara’s not letting us down, she’s got some great weather in store for us this weekend, let’s not let her down either.
What: Santa Barbara Earth Day
Where: Alameda Park, around Garden and Micheltorena
When: Saturday 11 am – 6:30 pm, and Sunday 11 am – 5 pm