The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.
–from the Earth Day Network website, https://www.earthday.org
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans observed the first Earth Day by protesting environmental abuses that many disparate groups had been struggling to address, from raw sewage spilling into rivers to extinction of wildlife. Fueled by the passion and the alliances generated that day, the U.S. environmental movement took a leap forward in the public consciousness.
Throughout all the changes the movement and the nation have undergone, environmental issues remain of critical importance, especially given the current administration’s drive to dismantle protections offered by the EPA. Woodstock has a long history of environmental activism, with a town government that has achieved a zero-emissions carbon footprint. Several Earth Day observations are scheduled in the Woodstock area for the weekend of April 21 and 22.
- On Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Woodstock Environmental Commission partners with Sunflower Natural Foods Market for an Earth Day celebration in front of Sunflower’s Woodstock store at Bradley Meadows, 75 Mill Hill Road. Exhibitors and participants will include:
– The Environmental Commission, with numerous educational brochures on composting and recycling, invasive species, green infrastructure, eco-gardening, food recovery, butterfly conservation, and a host of other
environmental issues. Much of the literature is kid-friendly, intended to help youngsters learn “best practices” in caring for Mother Earth.
– Sunflower Natural Foods Market, with a table devoted to treats from their new café and juice bar
– Woodstock NY Transition and its Repair Café
– Solar Generation, with the latest in solar power solutions for the Hudson Valley
– Woodstock Land Conservancy
– Electric vehicles
– And others to be announced.
- On Sunday, April 22, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Matagiri, a yoga and meditation center in Mount Tremper, will screen three hour-long movies and a number of shorts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Auroville, the experimental town founded in India by guru Sri Aurobindo’s collaborator Mirra Alfassa, known as “the Mother.” Matagiri stewards and Aurobindo devotees Wendy and Julian Lines went to Auroville in February, bringing water from Mount Tremper to mix with water from over 300 sources, conveyed from as far away as Northern Algeria and the Antarctic. This ceremony commemorated the founding of Auroville in 1968, when soil from many countries was brought to the site in India. Matagiri is located at 1218 Wittenberg Road in Mount Tremper. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845.679.8322. Refreshments will be provided, and voluntary donations will be accepted.
- On Sunday, April 22, at 3 p.m., Ashokan Center in Olivebridge presents “Climate Change and Hope in the Hudson Valley.” Tim Guinee, Hudson Valley resident, actor, and leader in former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, will give a presentation with discussions of the latest science regarding climate change in our area — and the many reasons we have to be hopeful in the face of this crisis. The Climate Reality Project is a diverse group of individuals who seek to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by supporting urgent action on climate change across every level of society. This event is free — please register to reserve your space through https://www.eventbrite.com.
- Also on Sunday, April 22, a “Planting Seeds of Hope” gathering will be held at the Woodstock Village Green at 6 p.m., organized by the Woodstock Interfaith Council. Members of the town drumming circle may be on hand to open the festivities, followed by readings and a chant from representatives of local Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish congregations. Among the half-hour of presentations will be a 19th-century prayer by Rebbe Nachman of Breslav about connecting to the divine source by communing with nature; observations on what “dominion over the earth” really means in the Bible passage from Genesis; and a blessing on packets of seeds that will be handed out for free. Musician Robert Burke Warren, a.k.a. Uncle Rock, will close with a seed-related song. Admission is free. If it rains, please gather on the covered porch of the Reformed Church, next to the green.