Ring in Earth Day 2016 with Sustainable Woodstock

The days are getting longer, the snow is subsiding, and temperatures are beginning to warm up. The month of April brings the promise of budding leaves and long summer days. With spring finally in the air, April also is a time to celebrate Earth Day. On Thursday, April 21st – Earth Day Eve – Sustainable Woodstock invites the community to attend their annual Earth Day celebration.

The first Earth Day celebration was April 22, 1970. This landmark event catalyzed 20 million Americans to peacefully march for environmental reform. The event, initially conceptualized as an environmental teach-in, is now celebrated worldwide by millions each year. While many are probably already familiar with Earth Day’s origins, how did the founders come to agree on April 22 as the official date?

Gaylord Nelson, an Earth Day founder and a US Senator from Wisconsin, wanted to ensure widespread support from students. To do this, Nelson determined the week of April 19-25 would be the best time because it did not fall during exams or during Spring Break. It also did not interfere with religious holidays and was late enough in spring to have warmer weather. Given all these conditions, founders settled on April 22nd.

Nelson’s selection of April 22nd contributed to the huge success of the nation’s first Earth Day as participants from more than 2,000 colleges and universities, 10,000 primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities celebrated. The EPA notes that the first Earth Day in 1970 “brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.”

Earth Day 2016 also has the potential to play a pivotal role internationally. April 22, 2016 marks the first day when nations can formally sign the Paris Agreement, the historic climate protection treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The US, China, and 120 other countries have pledged to sign the agreement on April 22nd.

More locally, Sustainable Woodstock’s Earth Day celebration and annual meeting will be a great event for community members to come together in celebration of Earth Day and recognize Sustainable Woodstock’s year round work in building a sustainable community. Community members are invited to learn about Sustainable Woodstock’s recent projects. Sustainable Woodstock will also present awards to community leaders who have demonstrated sustainable practices related to energy, food, education, and recycling.

john elderSustainable Woodstock’s annual meeting will be held in partnership with Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. The evening will be a time to reflect on Woodstock’s prominent role in catalyzing the nation’s sustainability movement featuring a conversation with environmental writer John Elder. John Elder is Emeritus Professor at Middlebury College, where he has taught about the connections between literature and environmental thinking, as seen, for example, in nature poetry. His April 21st talk will draw from his recent article in Northern Woodlands magazine.

During the event, the Superintendent of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site will present the George Perkins Marsh award. The award is given to individuals or organizations that further environmental stewardship nationally and promote stewardship in action in Woodstock and the greater Upper Valley.

The annual meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday April 21st with a welcome reception in the Billings Farm & Museum lobby. The program then moves into the theater for award presentations and Professor Elder’s talk and discussion. The event is free and all are welcome. To RSVP or for more information about Woodstock’s 2016 Earth Day celebration, contact Sustainable Woodstock at 457-2911.

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