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A Green Day in Sonoma County

Since it was first established on April 22, 1970 — in response to Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson’s call for a nation-wide “teach-in” about the environment — Earth Day has dramatically expanded, becoming the largest secular holiday in the world.

Forty-seven years after its inception, April 22 is now observed by over 170 countries around the globe, but instead of parties and celebrations and fireworks, the day is marked by action — communities gathering to clean streams and beaches, plant trees, launch recycling drives, spend the day outside, write letters in support of responsible environmental policies, and generally to recognize that if we don’t take care of the Earth, the Earth could stop taking care of us.

Here are ten suggestions of ways to celebrate Earth Day 2017. Some are as simple as taking walk or, even watching a movie. Some are a bit more adventurous. You can celebrate Earth Day in solitary meditation, roaming the forests or coasts of the North Bay, or surrounded by thousands, marching as part of the National March for Science. You can stay close to home, or take the family on a day long excursion or volunteerism project. However you choose to mark this Saturday — and perhaps even continue on in the days afterwards — we extend a happy Earth Day to you, and all the life-forms you cherish the most.

And whatever it is you choose to do this weekend, try to act natural.

Hug a tree

The Petaluma Parks and Recreation Department’s Tree Advisory Committee will be hosting a public Arbor Day celebration — cleverly combining the tree-embracing event with Earth Day — out at Steamer Landing on Saturday morning, April 22, beginning at 11 a.m.

Clean a park

State parks all over California are marking Earth Day with a mobilization of volunteers assembling from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. to participate in clean-up and maintenance projects at over 40 parks. The nearest are Sonoma County’s Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Marin County’s China Camp State Park. Just show up at 9 a.m. for opening remarks, bring sunblock, and be prepared to make a difference.

Accept a challenge

Petaluma’s Daily Acts — which challenges individuals and groups to tackle specific social actions — has chosen Earth Day to transform the garden at Charles Street Village, in Cotati. Volunteers will help restore the garden’s raised beds, install a drip irrigation system, and create a brand new herb garden for the all-senior housing complex. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. All who wish to participate are asked to register under ‘events’ at dailyacts.org.

Attend a festival

Authors, musicians, and environmentalists of all kinds will gather on the grounds of the Santa Rosa City Hall on Saturday, April 22, from noon-4 p.m., to witness onstage performances (music from VOENA Children’s Choir, martial arts demonstrations from Redwood Empire Chinese Association, theater from the Chalkboard Players, dancing from the Native Youth Pomo Dance troupe), meet with authors and artists, peruse a variety of tables and food booths — and generally find plenty of inspiration to walk a closer walk with Mother Earth.

Catch a legend

Folksingers don’t get much “earthier” than Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. The iconic folksinger will be the headliner of a unique benefit variety show taking place at 2 p.m. inside an old redwood barn on the East side of Petaluma. Hosted by Sonoma Mountain Music, it’s a fundraiser for John McDonald, a filmmaker who’s raising dollars to complete a film about John Sears, aka “Mule,” the one-of-a-kind back-to-nature banner-carrier who’s spent the last 30 years traveling the west with his pack of mules. Ramblin’ Jack is a fan of the project, and Earth day seems the perfect time to show your own support. Details at Sonomamountainmusic.com.

Recycle a machine

There’s no better day than Earth Day to finally dispose of your unwanted e-waste, be it an old television set, electronics, kitchen appliances, computers, office equipment, 8-track machines, printers, cords — you name it. On Friday, April 21, the parking lot at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, out at Pt. Ryes National Seashore, will host a collection depot for such stuff, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. You can dump your junk, then take a walk out to the meadow, or beyond to the coast. Too ambitious? Up in Healdsburg, Sonoma County Waste Management is hosting a weekend-long e-waste collection event at the Healdsburg Community Center, 1557 Healdsburg Ave., from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Save a panda

“Born in China,” narrated by John Krasinski, is the latest DisneyNature documentary to be released on Earth Day weekend. Directed by action-master Lu Chuan, the gorgeously photographed film explores the natural beauty of China through the POV of baby snow leopards and giant pandas — both endangered species. Continuing a tradition established with the first DisneyNature film, 2008’s “Earth,” Disney will set aside a portion of the ticket sales from the first week of “Born in China,” and donate it to the World Wildlife Fund. In addition to other efforts conducted through its Disney Conservation Fund non-profit, Walt Disney Co. estimates it has donated over $45 million to environmental causes since 1996.

Take a stand

As the massive “March for Science” takes place in Washington D.C., hundreds of Earth Day “satellite marches” are planned for all fifty states. Locally, the closest is in Santa Rosa, where an estimated 500-1,000 people will march in solidarity with scientists and environmentalists, championing the need for better understanding of and funding for science, and to support responsible governement policies based on scientific findings and facts. The march begins at Noon, at Santa Rosa’s Juilliard Park, and travels through downtown Santa Rosa.

Take a hike

There’s no better time to head outdoors than Earth Day, if for no other reason than to remind yourself what a beautiful part of the world we live in. Whether it’s raining or shining, whether you go alone or with your family, whether you walk, run or ride a bike, just shut off your phone and pick a trail — maybe Putnam or Shollenberger or Tolay Lake — and keep your eyes open. There’s plenty to see out there. You wouldn’t want to miss any of it.