Earth Day 2017

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Tompkins Weekly       4-24-17

By Joey Diana Gates

Every spring is different and unfolds in its own time and in its own way. It is the time when the cold and the warmth engage in a tug of war for ruling the weather. Much like the political climate we are currently living in, where the struggles to control and save our social safety nets play out in heated debate. In times such as this, movements like the environmental one grow and swell in ranks as many are shaken out of complacency and propelled into the streets to safeguard our ecosystems and climate. It is in this vein that we, nationally and as a community here, observe and celebrate Earth Day this year.

On the traditional Earth Day of Saturday, April 22, many events are happening throughout the community, while the National Earth Day Network hosts the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Locally, the following weekend, on Saturday, April 29, under the sponsorship of Sustainable Tompkins, we will have a day full of events to help us find our voices, lift them up and join the chorus in pursuit of a more sustainable life through policy change and action. Ithaca’s March for Climate, Jobs and Justice will be one of 250 across the U.S. in association with the People’s Climate Movement.

The day will start at 10 a.m. in the Borg Warner Room at the Tompkins County Public Library with an Open Space discussion. Open Space is a meeting format where the attendees co-create the agenda with topics facilitated by those who bring them forward and outcomes are self-determined around a central theme.

The theme for this event is “What are your barriers to living a sustainable life?” Perhaps, for example, you cannot find affordable housing on a bus line. So you move further out of town, resulting in being car dependent, and thus upping your carbon footprint. Think about what challenges you face in trying to have a minimal environmental footprint or just come ready to think through such issues with others. We will gather at 9:45 a.m. and begin promptly at 10 a.m.

The Fall Creek Brass Band will lead Ithaca’s March for Climate, Jobs and Justice on Saturday, April 29. Photo provided.

Following the Open Space discussion, at 11:30 a.m, at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Commons, we will rally in preparation for our local March for Climate, Jobs and Justice. Music from Burns and Kristy will greet us as we gather, and then speakers, including Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, will give us insights into policy work being done at the state and local level to protect our environment and mitigate climate change. Following the rally, we will take to the streets and march down to The Space @ GreenStar, led by the Fall Creek Brass Band.

At The Space, food will be available from Bici-Cocina, music will be provided by Naomi Sommers and speakers will share ideas for actions we can take, through the help of services offered by the exhibitors, to lower our carbon and overall environmental footprints.

At 2:30 p.m., Gerald Torres, environmental law professor and board chair of the National Earth Day Network, will speak about the movement towards a “demosprudence.” Demosprudence is the process through which law is made by the people through their concerted efforts and social movements.

At 3:30 p.m., the Signs of Sustainability Award Ceremony will take place, recognizing people in the community who have worked to make some aspect of our lives more environmentally sustainable. This is a people’s choice award as awardees are nominated and selected by the community at large.

At 4 p.m., Voices from the Community will highlight truth and perspectives of youth and those who support youth. Polly Wood of Toko Imports will share her talents and wisdom related to the value of women from both modern and ancient perspectives. And youth from Lehman Alternative Community School will share their concerns for the environment and the climate, as well as the musical talents of the LACS Celtic Band.

Last but not least, at 5 p.m., we will close with the One Heart Drum Circle as is tradition. One Heart was started more than 20 years ago now in conjunction with the revival of the Ithaca Earth Day celebration, by Steve Calkins, who passed away several years ago. They bring us a return back to the heart centered expression through the rhythmic drumbeats and dance, allowing us, for a moment to let go of the heady, worldly issues we face. And inspire us to be a part of a movement.

All are welcome and all events are free.

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