Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who generally tries to do the right thing if she can figure out what that is.
April 22 is Earth Day. In fact, this year it’s Earth Day’s 40th birthday, and its 20th in Canada. And there’ll be a big party: over a billion people in 190 countries are expected to participate in some kind of Earth Day activities, according to the Earth Day Network, which calls Earth Day “the largest secular civic event in the world”.
Finding this out made me curious about the Day. It began in 1970 in the U.S. as a protest by 20 million Americans against environmental degradation. It’s had an interesting history. The April 22 Earth Day is distinct from the UN”s World Environment Day held June 5 and from other Earth Days that are celebrated at the equinox.
Why this Earth Day? For some people, Earth Day is about grassroots movements drawing attention to and doing something about environmental concerns. But can one day, or even a week, make a difference?
I like the David Suzuki Foundation’s approach. This year it’s launched an Earth Week Book Swap, as I found out while visiting my local Bridgehead coffee shop with friends recently instead of finishing this post (thanks, you two!). The David Suzuki Foundation recognises that communities in which people are engaged are capable of doing something about local and global problems. So it’s encouraging people to swap books at local community spaces and coffee shops where people meet up, to connect and share ideas. As Foundation blogger Kim Peterson writes, community action comes from individuals who know each other and share concerns, important to remember when we’re trying to tackle big issues like climate change or overconsumption.
One more Earth Day is not likely to change the world, but it’s a reminder to reflect on what we can do to live sustainably, and a chance to participate in activities that also build environmentally-aware communities, whether those communities are local, global or both.
In Ottawa, many schools, organisations, businesses and government representatives are hosting Earth Day-related activities this week. Earth Day Ottawa, Earth Day Canada and Ecology Ottawa all have event listings. Here are a few highlights:
Wednesday, April 21:
- A screening of Toxic Trespass, a film about children’s health and the environment, 7:30-9:30 pm at Glebe St. James United Church, 650 Lyon St.
- The deadline for submitting video, photo, story, webcam, twitter, or facebook entries to CBC’s initiative “What Earth Day means to me.” See http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2010/04/earth-day-what-does-it-mean-to-you.html.
Thursday, April 22:
- Envirocentre’s Sustainable Transportation Fair, 11 am-2 pm at Place Bell, 160 Elgin St. Information about sustainable transportation options like car sharing, cycling and air travel.
- Writers’ Festival events:
- The big idea: How Canadians are changing the way we eat at 12 noon at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St. Sarah Elton, food columnist for CBC Radio’s Here & Now, talks about the local food movement;
- Global perspectives: Oil and the end of globalization, 6:30 pm at the Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St. Jeff Rubin, economist, energy expert and author of Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller speaks on local revitalisation;
- Global Perspectives: The Necessary Revolution, 8 pm at the Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St. Joe Laur, Rabbi, teacher, Senior Manager of Greenopolis.com, and co-author (with Peter M. Senge) of The Necessary Revolution speaks on new stories and new strategies for addressing social and environmental problems.
For details see http://www.writersfestival.org/events.html.
Saturday, April 24:
- Earth Day Ottawa Concert, Exhibition and Award Show at the Canadian Museum of Nature. A “mini-folk festival” with performances 11 am-1 pm and 1:30-3:30 pm.
- Ottawa Eco-Stewardship Fair, 10 am-5 pm at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Dr. Exhibits by businesses, governments and non-profit organisations, with local artists, a 100 mile lunch, bike festival and more.
For ideas about how to live sustainably throughout the rest of the year, see Earth Day Canada at http://www.ecoactionteams.ca/pub/index.php and the David Suzuki Foundation. Please let us know of other Earth Day events and links you’d like to share.