Dance. Gather. Eat. Drink. Make. Clean up. Present. Share. Sing. Plant. Build. Learn. Strategize. Hike. Tour. Quilt. Draw. Meditate. Engrave. Explore. Donate. Reuse. Ride. Taste.
In its essence, Earth Day – a noun representing humanity’s special moment to promote the environment and celebrate the Earth, encompasses a whole lot of action verbs. They center on ways to care for the planet and diminish the many threats to it. Furthermore, as humans see our destiny intimately interconnected to our planet’s health, Earth Day’s programs promote our own health and well-being while experiencing pleasure, camaraderie, and connection in doing so.
Earth Day 2023 in Ulster County affords a variety of opportunities to do all the above and more. At a free “seed portrait” workshop on April 20, artist and miniaturist Sergey Jivetin will demonstrate hand-engraving seeds to illustrate the deep connections between plants and people’s lives, part of the DRAW Studio’s Eco Arts Week. Those who attend are invited to bring a personal story of a relationship between plants and people, with a relevant seed, and Jivetin will engrave the story onto it. The free Spring Well Earth Day event at the YWCA Ulster County on April 22 will have gentle yoga, global dance fusion, herbal seed-starting, and holistic health care sessions.
As these examples show, Earth Day arrives in many forms. We’ll feature several Earth Day happenings here, and below you will find schedule details of these events plus a list of others in the area.
One could say that the verbs that Earth Day embodies contradict other verbs such as despoil, pollute, and destroy. The 53-year history of Earth Day has always been about these opposing forces and their life-or-death stakes. The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, originated at a time when air pollution and water pollution were worsening, and corporations were under little restraint. Americans drove inefficient cars fueled by leaded gas and industries spewed toxic smoke that poisoned the air of many cities and towns. The 1960s witnessed a growing awareness about the environment, and the polluting of the Hudson River became one of the focal points. Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, published in 1962, was a watershed moment, revealing the horrible damage to bird populations of indiscriminately spraying pesticides. In 1969, a major oil spill in Santa Barbara and a fire that erupted on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River both sparked a keener sense of the environmental degradation going on. That year, a senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Perry, conceived the idea for a day of environmental teach-ins on college campuses that would take a page from the antiwar movement, and it soon spread to faith groups, schools, and many other entities. On the first Earth Day, some 20 million Americans took part. Today, Earth Day and Earth Month actions and programs happen in more than 190 countries.
For Earth Day and Earth Month 2023, people in the Hudson Valley will join an expected 1 billion people worldwide who take part. Today, Earth Day’s focus has evolved to address climate action, climate justice, and sustainability. What is common to the first Earth Day and now is acting, not remaining passive, in the face of plenty of bad news, rampant destruction of our natural environment, the extinction or endangerment of many species, and the existential threat of climate change.
According to Lucas Peterka, one of the students involved in bringing together Earth Day at SUNY New Paltz, many have “become exhausted by what is not happening” – people and governments not pursuing strong-enough actions to address climate change and climate justice. “There is a window of time that we have to do this,” Peterka said. “We want things done now.”
SUNY New Paltz’s Earth Day will be a full four hours of free events and programs, on April 22 from 12-4 p.m., at Old Main Quad. It will involve a student-led rally, focusing on climate justice, combating corporate invasion of indigenous lands, and sustainability. Local bands will perform, and there will be a drum circle. The campus event will have a separate “Creative Space” of activities such as a clothing swap, quilt making, and yoga. Sixteen student clubs plan to have tables, Peterka said. A student will lead a guided tree walk of SUNY New Paltz.
SUNY New Paltz’s Earth Day will highlight the endeavors of the campus’ own plot of sustainable agriculture, the micro-farm. There, students grow corn, garlic, kale, spinach, and much more in the small farm’s no-till, pesticide-free plots, and they grow plants in a campus greenhouse, according to Kai Mack and Taiyo Cannizzo, who manage the micro-farm. The students who work the farm in collaboration with the school’s Environmental Alliance will lead an Earth Day program from 1-2 p.m., for participants to make seed bombs. The seed bombs are comprised of native plants and wildflowers seeds with other materials such as compost and soil that are a good-to-the-Earth, convenient way to sow a meadow or wildflower garden patch and create pollinator habitats. Mack and Cannizzo are very enthusiastic to share knowledge about sustainable farming practices with SUNY students and others during Earth Day.
Woodstock’s 2023 Earth Day Celebration, on April 22, is another large-scale honoring of Earth Day. The free event aims for a decidedly community and kid-friendly flavor. Ravensbeard Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will be there with live birds of prey. Talk about a teach-in: Onteora Central School District’s sixth graders will lead a discussion about plastics, with Plastic Monster. There will be eco arts and crafts for children, a raffle to win eco-goodies, and an Earth Day Story Hour. Environmental group representatives and public officials will be on hand, and the Woodstock Environmental Commission will give a presentation on its initiatives. Plus, in true Woodstock form, the celebration will have a special appearance by Mother Earth “In all her glory!”
Other local programs also reflect how caring for the environment starts in one’s backyard and the ways we can learn and practice this ethic. On April 22, the Hudson River Maritime Museum will hold two special youth woodworking classes to build your own bathouse. Students will assemble a wooden bathouse with the aid of an instructor. (Consult the library site for the cost.) Students will learn how bats are important to our ecosystem, playing an essential role in controlling pests, dispersing seeds, and pollinating plants.
If you are into celebrating Earth Day with one of Hudson Valley’s premier products, the first-ever Earth Day at the Wineries on April 22-23 is an option to embrace the spirit. The Shawangunk Wine Trail gives a choice of three itineraries, each with four wineries open for the self-guided tour. At the starting winery, each visitor receives a white spruce tree sapling, in a burlap bag, with complete planting instructions, plus a souvenir wine glass charm. The starting winery also provides a souvenir wine glass and a wine-tasting flight.
The Shawangunk Wine Trail group encourages using a designated driver, who will receive free tickets and a non-alcoholic beverage at all four locations. Ticket sales end on Friday night, April 21, at midnight (no tickets available at the door). Find info and tickets at shawangunkwinetrail.com.
The wineries have made significant strides in practicing sustainable farming methods and in mindful use of natural resources, according to Jude DeFalco, operations manager of the Shawangunk Wine Trail. “To plant vineyards, you have to be in tune with the Earth,” DeFalco said. Whitecliff Vineyard, as an example, uses primarily organic sprays, and its wine processing is entirely vegan. The vineyard pays extra to use corn-based compostable plastics and is the second-ever geothermally powered vineyard constructed in New York State. Each of the vineyards is making earth-friendly and distinct planting, processing, and serving improvements, such as not selling any beverages in plastic bottles; making compost; or utilizing reusable and compostable containers. The bottom line increasingly seems to be: Eat, drink, and be merry…and care for the planet.
The Earth Day spirit will last right into May when Kingston holds its Ninth Annual Earth Fair on May 13. Slated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the T.R. Gallo Park on the Rondout waterfront, the free event will have live musical performances, youth activities and games, a solar-powered merry-go-round, mobile health clinic, food vendors, and free rides on the Hudson River Maritime Museum’s Solaris boat rides and tours on the sloop Clearwater. The fair will also have an Earth Day Exchange for swapping used clothes, toys, books, and household goods. The City of Kingston will collect electronics waste. (Check out the City’s Earth Fair site for more info.) The Clearwater, the Hudson River Maritime Museum, and eight other partners are teaming with the City as fair hosts.
Undoubtedly, Earth Day 2023 in Ulster County promises much of the positive vibe and people power combined with the urgency of the original Earth Day. Still, beyond the many gatherings this week and month, as Kai Mack observed – while looking at the beds to weed and work at the SUNY New Paltz micro-farm: “Every day is Earth Day.”
Check out the list below for schedule details and additional Earth Day events that are close to home.
Saturday, 4/15 to Sunday, 4/23
Eco Arts Week, free arts-driven event of sustainability, ecology, and upcycling practices through workshops, lectures, and exhibits at DRAW Studio in Kingston.
Build Your Own Bathouse at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Two classes: 9am to 12pm and 1-4pm.
Earth Day at the Plattekill Public Library in Modena. Painting bathouses, pollinators garden, children’s art class, free tree seedlings, and much more. 9am to 3pm.
Woodstock’s 2023 Earth Day Celebration at th Mescal Hornbeck Community Center in Woodstock, 10am to 2pm.
Earth Day Fair, 20th Anniversary at the Reformed Church of New Paltz, 11am to 4pm.
Earth Day at the Wineries at the Shawangunk Wine Trail, 11am to 5pm.
Hey Bub musical performance at the Kingston Farmers Market, 11am.
Earth Day at SUNY New Paltz at the Old Main Quad in New Paltz, 12pm to 4pm.
Spring Well Earth Day at the YWCA Ulster County, 12-3pm.
Free Bicycle Repair Clinic for Earth Day at the YMCA parking lot on Pine Grove Avenue in Kingston. Hosted by Bike Earth Day: Friendly Kingston and the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County, 1-4pm.
Celebrate Earth Day Leave No Trace Workshop at the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary in New Paltz, hike and workshop, followed by cider-tasting at Bacchus New Paltz to benefit the NY-NJ Trail Conference. Meet at the free municipal parking lot at 53 Huguenot Street, 2-4:30pm.
Identifying Invasive Species workshop at the Snyder Estate, sponsored by the Rosendale Library. Local naturalist and mycologist Luke Sarrantonio will teach how to identify invasive species, learn how to control them, and practice ways to use invasive plants as you remove them. 2pm.
Earth Day Benefit for The Vanaver Caravan’s Music, Dance, and Human Unity projects in Auroville, India at Matagiri Sri Aurobindo Center in Mount Tremper, 4-6pm.
Earth Day at the Wineries at the Shawangunk Wine Trail, 11am to 5pm.
Earth Day Family Playdate at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge. Guided nature walks, gardening demonstration and composting workshop, make a seed bomb or pine cone birdfeeder, live music, food for sale, and hikes to Cathedral Gorge, 10am to 2pm.
City of Kingston Earth Fair at T.R. Gallo Park in Kingston, 10am to 5pm.