The New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, in conjunction with GreenWorks and the Water Street Market, is launching a “Moving Green” day on Sept. 24, encouraging everyone to get out of their cars, bike, hike, walk, run, paddle, swim, dance, skip or anything that promotes well-being and works to reduce our growing carbon footprint. The rain date is Sept. 25. “It’s a day to celebrate, without using fossil fuels — and to help the planet,” said Ann Guenther, of CAC.
This event is one of thousands across the country and world, including a huge bike rally in the Philippines to a Philadelphia eco-festival, sponsored by the grassroots www.350.org — an international movement geared around inspiring people to get off the fossil fuel pipe and reduce the dangerously high levels of CO2 parts per million in the atmosphere.
“Scientists say that 350 parts per million (which is where the group got its name) is a safe level,” noted Guenther. “We’re at 391. That means the atmosphere is heating up, it’s retaining more water, more energy, which increases damaging weather events, floods, the heating of our planet. We can get this back down, together. And we can have fun doing it.”
To that end, the CAC — which sponsored a 350 event in 2009 at Hasbrouck Park forming a human chain that spelled out 350 and landed their picture on the 350 website — is going with the international theme of “moving green” and focusing on alternative forms of transportation.
“We wanted to pick one day where people consciously get out of their cars and bike, hike, canoe, prance…meet up with one another and then make their way to the village to celebrate together. Instead of getting all depressed and doomsday, which is easy to do, we want to empower people. It’s a lot of little people doing a lot of little things that will have an enormous impact.”
The festivities are from 1 to 4 p.m. with the grand finale being a group shot of hundreds of people forming a gigantic bicycle wheel at the park at 3:50 p.m.
Before the bicycle wheel is formed there will be a game show, complete with buzzers and lights and of course, prizes for all ages. There will be activities for kids like hula-hoop contests and parachute games, “things that don’t require fossil fuels to have fun,” Guenther said.
There will be live music, displays and a visit from the “bike doctors ” — local bicycle technicians who can answer questions and provide “prescriptions” for ways people can fix, better maintain or care for their bikes.
Then, those that are willing to take that first brave step and “admit that they have a problem,” can join in the amusing, yet thought-provoking “Auto-holics Anonymous” 12-step program to recovery.
“Yes, it’s a spoof, but really, we are all addicted to fossil fuels, to our cars and we can have fun, but also talk about ways to ‘cure’ this addiction. How about carpooling? Riding the train or the bus? Walking?”
Guenther recalled meeting a young mother on the bus who had three small kids. She had lost her license. “That must be so stressful, especially with kids,” said Guenther to the young woman. She told Guenther that she too thought it “was going to be awful, but my life has become so much better. I know when the bus schedule is, my kids know when it is. We go shopping on a certain day at a certain time … I’m so relaxed and have much more time than when I had a car.”
In addition, on Sept. 24, local eateries near the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in Gardiner, New Paltz and Rosendale, will offer “three-fifty” specials until 2 p.m. for those who arrive without using fossil fuel.
Greenworks and Water Street Market, who typically host a “no petrol” event around this time of the year, liked teaming up with CAC to make it a community-wide event.
“We loved the idea of hosting our annual ‘Go Green Day’ to promote sustainability with the CAC’s ‘Moving Green Day,’” said Teresa Fall, of Water Street Market in downtown New Paltz and also a member of GreenWorks.
Their events will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the market and include solar energy displays, tabling by the joint town-village Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee, a children’s T-shirt design contest along with the band Ratboy Jr., who will play from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Coming on the heels of Hurricane Irene and the continued flooding, damage, loss of property and crops that people are experiencing, Fall said that there will also be a table set up where people can donate money, giftcards and non-perishable food items to FAMILY of New Paltz to help those who have lost homes, or had extensive damage to their homes due to the flooding.
To get more information you can contact Fall at TerryFall@gmail.com. To get in touch with Guenther and CAC call 255-9257. ++