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.