What is Earth Day? Looking back at 1994
by Carolyn Chase
arth Day provides an annual occasion for acknowledgement,
reflection and awareness. In addition, Earth Day provides an important and
inspiring "call to action." Each and every human can discover
that they can do their part for a cleaner, healthy and more prosperous future.
Q: What do people do for Earth Day and how does
A: People choose what they think is most important
in their area and then go out and do it!
At the national level, Earth Day USA collects event information and ideas
and coordinates requests for information and referrals around the country.
Nationwide, 400 different individuals and organizations reported that more
than 625,000 individuals took action for Earth Day this year. All 50 states
participated. Events included fairs and festivals, clean-ups, and walk-a-thons,
concerts and plantings, "earth pledges" and "earth art."
President Clinton gave an Earth Day speech and reported
on environmental progress at his home: The White House. "We're trying
to do our part," he said. "We're using less water on the lawn,
fewer pesticides, and Hillary and Chelsea and I have recycling bins in our
Earth Day California-style
Here in San Diego, the fifth anual EarthFair
in Balboa Park was an unqualified success. The fact that at it was pouring
rain at 5am in the morning had organizers concerned, but the skys cleared
(mostly) and the show went on. The Children's Earth Parade, supporting the
theme "bring Earth Day Home," featured 400 marchers. More than
40,000 turned out on the damp and windy day to visit a record 279 exhibitors.
The fair was produced by more than 350 hard-working volunteers.
At nearby Anza-Borrego State Park, far-out frogs,
furry animals, and snakes were the order of the day.
San Bernardino hosted Nature Bowl ''94 as part
of their "Live Green for Life!" Inland Environmental Expo.
Mother Nature was not as kind to our friends to the
north. Berkeley Earth Day was rained out completely. San Jose
was also rained on, but everyone was able to move indoors. The Earth Pledge
Walk in Sausalito was "beautiful, if not well attended."
Those who did turn out enjoyed getting exercise, being out in nature, and
gathering to the sounds of Native American flute and drums. The next day
in Contra Costa, the skies cleared up for thousands of attendees.
Los Angeles hosted The Great LA Clean Up. More
than 31,000 people collected 11,398 pounds of trash, planted 2,372 plants,
and removed 3 miles of graffiti. Organizer John Quigley reported having
"the most challenging and inspiring day" of his life. LA also
reported 22 worship events, 19 studies and forums, 17 church recycling projects
and 10 clean up and restoration projects.
Around the U.S.
The Boston Area Earth Day Calendar invited people
to more than 50 different fairs, cleanups, concerts, lectures and plantings.
More than 2,500 individual promises were collected to form a "Promise
Tree" in the South Station Metro.
Chicago hosted a Earth Day Walk 'n Roll Festival
with 50 exhibitors and a walk-a-thon. The People's Earth Day took place
on the southeast side known as the "toxic donut" and focused on
environmental justice. Over 10,000 youth enjoyed "Enviro-Mania"
at the Chicago Children's Museum. An estimated 10,000 in 250 locations did
clean-ups with Friends of the Parks.
The Arkansas Solar Tour, featuring solar-powered
cars from Michigan, Tennessee and Texas, visited and educated 25,000 school
kids. The practical hands-on road testing made the technology real to science
teachers and chambers of commerce throughout the State of Arkansas. The
tour culminated at an Earth Day Festival in Little Rock where the Sierra
Club presented an award to the State Attorney General. Bill Ball, Solar
Friendship Tour organizer is working on a National Solar Jamboree for next
year and is hoping that President Clinton will "Act Locally" by
coming home for Earth Day and giving his Earth Day speech to solar car teams
from around nation.
The "Taste of Health" and "Tropic Hunt"
in Miami was well attended (30-40,000) until a long-lasting tropical
downpour wrapped things up early. A downpour also brought things to an early
close in Tampa.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana hosted "Earth for
Children" featuring hands-on activities for children presented by 60
local teachers. More than 700 marched in their All-Species Parade and other
well-attended events included a Recycle Store, the EarthWalk and an International
Organizers in Austin, Texas presented "The
Earth's Cleanest Concert" for 7,000 attendees and 120 vendors.
Earth Day Arizona hosted events over 2 weekends
for more than 50,000 people.
In Washington, D.C., awards were presented to
local environmental justice heroes and METNET held an Ecothon with 100 exhibitors.
Earth Day Hawaii welcomed about 20,000 on Oahu.
Denver had a Fair, walk-a-thon and their first
All Species Parade. At the end, only 18 pieces of litter were found.
New York hosted a Walk 'n Roll, a jazz concert
and a Latin concert.
New Jersey Earth Day had their first walk-a-thon
in a local park.
St. Louis held their 5th annual community festival
and RiverFaces parade.
Richmond, Virginia celebrated the "Year
of the Animal."
Putting it all together
What is going on here?
Nothing but the power, diversity, and magic of Earth
Day. The power is in the idea. The people bring the diversity. Combined
with their inspiration and community needs, this produces the largest annual,
count-on-able, practical demonstration of action in favor of creating a
better, healthier world.
Everyone can play a part in it. Everyone can be a part of it. Anywhere and
Learn how to get started putting your own ideas to work.
Earth Day USA offers a concise, 18-page "Earth Day Organizer's Manual"
containing network resources, suggestions and grass-roots-tested ideas.
Send $10 or a 9"x12" self-addressed stampd envelope with $1.44
postage for each copy requested to: Earth Day Organizer's Manual, PO Box
9827, San Diego, CA 92169.
Carolyn Chase is Executive Director of San Diego Earth Day and Chief
Operating Officer of the Earth Day Network, the national Earth Day organization.