From the Publisher

That was the Earth Day that was

by Chris Klein
pril 22 came and went last week, and I have good news: Earth Day is alive and well in San Diego.
I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive. National coverage of the 25th anniversary was spotty at best, pushed out of the media by the trajedy in Oklahoma. The congress is taking an axe to hard-won environmental legislation with hardly a whisper of dissent. Polls tell us that 80 percent of the U.S. population is interested in and concerned about the quality of the environment; where is their voice? Did the concern evaporate, or were people just busy doing their taxes?
Of course, I have a special interest, having just spent the last four months getting ready to put on the EarthFair in Balboa Park. Would the people come? Would the volunteers and exhibitors show up? (Would it rain, like last year?)
I didn't have to worry. It was the best event ever. Somewhere between 70,000 and 75,000 people showed up. It was the largest one-day event ever held in Balboa Park.
The exciting story, for me, isn't just the numbers; it's the story about the support and participation of the community that makes the fair possible.
The fair is planned and produced entirely by volunteers, plus Earth Day's one paid employee, Kari Gray. More than 250 volunteers came out to put the fair on. Some volunteers spent weeks getting ready. Volunteers came from every walk of life; key volunteers included a financial analyst with the Post Office, several computer professionals, a carpenter, a high school student, an environmental quality engineer, a retail salesperson, a professional psychologist, and two Navy enlisted men.
The stars of the fair were the more than 240 exhibitors, distributed throughout the park, comprising 149 non-profit organizations, 79 for-profit companies, and 14 government agencies. These are the groups with the environmental messages, products and services that can make a difference.
The City of San Diego played a big role, providing the Balboa Park venue, refuse collection services and natural-gas buses for shuttle service. The San Diego Urban Corps members helped with recycling and refuse (75,000 people can generate a lot of trash).
Local media support for the fair was outstanding. Six radio and TV stations participated at the fair, and dozens more helped promote the event. Special recognition goes to station 91X for providing major sponsorship.
Dozens of businesses donated goods and services for the event. Examples include Solar Electric, Inc., who provided solar power for the stages and exhibitors, EDCO Disposal who provided dumpsters, and Cloud 9 Shuttle who provided natural-gas vans.
The EarthFair is an unprecidented example of a community working together for a common goal. Something about the event speaks to San Diegans in a way that gets them in action. What is it? How can we harness it, the other 364 days of the year, to make every day Earth Day?