“Woodstock usually celebrates the Fourth of July with fireworks in August, so why not do Earth Day in July?” So says Erin Moran, a member of the Woodstock Environmental Commission (WEC) as well as the coordinator of the town’s Climate Smart Task Force. “We’re doing it now because in April, things were still kind of iffy because of the pandemic.”
Making lemonade from the lemon of having to delay the event, the organizers have dubbed its 2021 manifestation Earth Day Is Every Day. The theme of this year’s celebration is Restore Our Earth, with a focus on natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. It will take place on Saturday, July 31 at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center. Admission is free.
Spotlighted at noon will be two high-profile speakers: New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey, discussing her environmental concerns for the Hudson Valley, and Jonathan Heppner, Majority Leader of the Ulster County Legislature representing District 23, which includes Woodstock, West Hurley and Glenford. Presentations will go on all day that will help attendees learn “how to be more green,” according to Moran.
One way to do that is to start getting around as much as possible on an electric bicycle instead of an automobile. E-bikes are a hot trend these days, and long overdue. Remember when the word “moped” was first coined to signify a bicycle on which a small motor was installed, to give the rider a boost on uphills? Somewhere along the line, that term got switched over to mean the kind of vehicle that had previously been known as motor scooters: low-powered, low-speed motorcycles such as the Vespa. The original “mo/ped” concept, in which the motor was meant to support rather than replace the human effort of pedaling, got totally lost, and motorized bikes vanished from the market.
Well, power-assisted bicycles are back – and this time they run on electricity, instead of having tiny, highly polluting two-cycle gasoline engines like the ones that were popular during the 1970s energy crisis. They come in a variety of different models, from commuter bikes to mountain bikes. Some are designed to carry cargo or kids; some even fold in half, for apartment-dwellers. Prices range from around $1000 to $6000, depending on what bells and whistles you want. Locally, they’re available from Overlook Bikes, including rentals from the shop’s new location near the rail trail in Shokan. Check them out at the Community Center on Earth Day Is Every Day.
Other electric vehicles will be on display at the event as well, and you’ll be able to take one for a test drive. Moran is especially excited that Volkswagen has come out with a “brand-new hybrid SUV,” which should go a long way toward shrinking the soccer mom’s carbon footprint.
A variety of environmental organizations will have exhibits and programs. The Catskill Watershed Corporation will present information on invasive species that Moran thinks will be especially valuable to all those new homeowners who moved to Woodstock and vicinity during the pandemic. Woodstock Transition NY will share information about two of the group’s flagship projects: the Woodstock Pollinator Pathway, which is expanding local honeybee habitat, and Repair Café Woodstock, making a comeback for the first time since COVID-19 struck.
The event is kid-friendly, offering hands-on activities such as the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program’s interactive stream model. Best of all, the Ravensbeard Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will be on hand, with live birds of prey including owls.
No food concessions are planned for this year’s event, but there will be a raffle of a fabulous gift basket loaded with environmentally friendly goodies and gift cards. You can buy raffle tickets in advance of the Earth Day fair at the WEC’s table at the Woodstock Farm Festival on Wednesday, July 21 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Mountain View Avenue municipal parking lot.
The Mescal Hornbeck Community Center is located at 56 Rock City Road in Woodstock. Earth Day Is Every Day will go on from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 31. For more details, visit https://woodstockchamber.com/event/restore-our-earth-an-earth-day-is-every-day-celebration.