Community Agriculture Alliance: Earth Day, Earth consciousness

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■ For more about the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, visit www.yvsc.org/

■ For more about Earth Day, visit www.earthday.org

■ For more about Transition Town, visit www.transitionus.org/

— Earth Day has become the largest secular holiday in the world, now celebrated by more than 1 billion people across the globe. But locally, Earth Day always has been a hard day to advocate for Steamboat because it always falls on April 22. That’s usually during our local spring break, after the ski mountain’s seasonal closure.

But Earth Day doesn’t have to be about just one day. It’s about broadening the meaning of “environment” to help mobilize communities for change.

The core issues of Earth Day Network’s focus include advocacy; climate change; conservation and biodiversity; education; energy; food and agriculture; green economy; green schools; recycling and waste production; sustainable development; and water. Other community initiatives have included environmental programs for schools such as Earth Day Network’s GREEN Schools Campaign, which seeks to green all of America’s K-12 schools within one generation. Green schools focus on saving money, conserving energy and water, and having healthier and better-performing students.

Other community examples include Earth Day Network’s Global Water Network, which helps fund rural projects for cleaner water around the globe. Many of these efforts already have appeared in our valley, spearheaded by Earth Conscious locals with passions for many of these hot topics.

Earth Day turns 40 this year. It was started in 1970 by Sen. Gaylord Nelson, of Wisconsin, as an educational teach-in about the environment to a small conservation group in Seattle. The Earth Day Network was founded that same year.

The Yampa Valley Sustain­ability Council plans to focus on education during Earth Day with local public relations efforts similar to what it did for Earth Hour. YVSC also welcomes Steamboat to celebrate its “Earth Consciousness” just one month later — May 20 to 22 — with a fun, green weekend.

First, at 6:30 p.m. May 20, Bud Werner Memorial Library hosts a presentation and movie about “Transition Town,” a movement that encourages all-encompassing sustainability for isolated communities such as Steamboat. Guest speaker and Transition Colorado founder Michael Brownlee will answer questions after the movie. More than a dozen Colorado towns already are participating in Transition Town and Transition Colorado, and Brownlee will be able to speak more to their successes.

At noon May 21, there will be a bag lunch discussion with Brownlee regarding steps for making Transition Steamboat a reality, including “Transition” topics such as garden sharing, transportation, renewable energy, local buying and more. That discussion will take place at the Steamboat Smokehouse.

From 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. May 22 is the fourth annual Routt County Cleanup Day. After the cleanup efforts will be a lunch for volunteers, who are asked to meet on the Routt County Courthouse lawn to pick up trash bags and vests in the morning. Steamboat’s Litter Solutions Committee has been working diligently on keeping Steamboat clean with new ideas for signage, work programs for the inmates through the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, and participation from Mainstreet Steamboat Springs and the city.

Andy Kennedy is a member of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

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