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Earth Day 2008 – A Call for Climate and a Worldwide Feast of Festivals

Submitted by Louisa May

Earth in hands photoThis year’s Earth Day, organized by Earth Day Network, is an extravaganza with edge. Earth Day Network was founded by the organizers of the first official Earth Day in 1970, and its goal today is to increase environmental awareness around the world.

This year’s theme is A Call for Climate which is a demand for immediate, effective, and equitable action against global warming.

Green Apple Festival associates are excited about the U.S. coast to coast events they have planned in eight cities nationwide. Activists, entertainers, musicians, and politicians have come together to help draw crowds for a cause. Calls to Congress will go out on April 22, 2008. If all goes well, over one million phone calls will be generated to lawmakers, the callers urging Congress to take significant action on climate change.

On April 20, in New York City’s Central Park, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will do their part, as will The Neville Brothers, the Maytals, Benevento/ Russo, and Saul Williams in Denver, Colorado.

Chicago’s main event at Lincoln Park Zoo includes the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Derek Trucks Band, and the Chicago Afrobeat Orchestra, starring with Event Host Kyle Orton of the Chicago Bears. San Francisco’s Green Apple Festival in Golden Gate Park offers the sounds of Yonder Mountain String Band, Mickey Hart’s Mass Drums, the presence of author, educator, and environmentalist Bill McKibben, and original Google Chef, Charlie Ayers.

Events are not limited to the United States. The Earth Fair in Barcelona will take place in the Parc de la Ciutadella, and this year’s theme is “The Fight Against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) Which Poison the Planet.” Tokyo’s Earth Day also focuses on Food Action Awareness. One main attraction is a booth offering organically grown, locally produced, non-GMO food from over forty different restaurants and cafes. Other popular booths in Tokyo’s fair are Baby Earthday, where mothers can sign up for workshops, and Outdoor Village with outdoor gear companies exhibiting environmental activities.

Earth Day had humble beginnings. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin started working on the idea of Earth Day back in 1962. Things never really got going until he hit on the idea of organizing grassroots protests and demonstrations at college campuses across the nation. His goal was to “shake up the political establishment and force this issue to a national agenda. It was a gamble, but it worked,” he remembers.The first official Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

The buzzwords were different back then, but a few people were already thinking green. The Whole Earth Catalog made its debut in 1968, and its purpose was to give the reader “tools to find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.” It was the first catalog ever to win a National Book Award in 1972.

(I bought my copy at a Swan Pond Park Earth Day rally in Riverside, Illinois while the Lawton Road Boys’ Rock and Roll Band jammed fast and furious in the background.)

Fast forward to Earth Day 2000, when the internet linked over 5000 environmental groups worldwide, reaching hundreds of millions of people in 184 countries. Thousands gathered at the Mall in Washington D.C. and a talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, sounding the message for “quick and decisive action on clean energy.”

There is much left to do, but as we begin to realize the benefits of going green, there is also much to celebrate. In the spirit of celebration, HGTV is drawing attention to environmental concerns with its Green House Giveaway Sweepstakes. You can enter online to win a “green” home in Hilton Head, South Carolina and a GMC Yukon Hybrid as well.

At you can also enter to win a 2008 Ford Escape hybrid car. Many retailers offer specials to recognize Earth Day; watch your local newspapers for Earth Day events. It’s not all work: you can have some fun, too, and join in and celebrate your community’s going green.

Check out our Green Pages for information on money saving tips that help the environment. Once there, click on the Green Forum to see more articles by our green feature writer Louisa May.

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