By Hannah Heimbuch
Though yesterday officially marked the nation’s 44th Earth Day, much of Homer’s celebration takes off this weekend with art, music, learning and more.
“We just really wanted to do this for and with the community,” said Laurie Daniel, vice president of the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society. Daniel and fellow KBCS volunteer Jim Stearns co-coordinated the 2014 Earth Day Celebration at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, which on Saturday will overflow with opportunities for learning and fun, she said.
At Fireweed Academy this week, students painted views of the earth on silk banners, which will join the other art and activity items at the Visitor Center over the weekend.
The students were enjoying the projects and discussions they’d had surrounding Earth Day, and felt strongly about their part of planet care-taking.
“Mostly to keep the earth clean,” said eight-year-old Poppy Smith. “So we don’t die off.”
It’s important that people don’t use up all of nature’s supplies, she said, or fill it up with garbage that can’t be used. “So Earth Day means a lot to me,” Smith said.
Saturday’s celebration starts at noon. Visitors will gather for a dedication of the Beluga Slough trail at 1 p.m., which includes a reading of Wendy Erd’s poetry — integrated into the new signage for the trail.
Later in the day, beginning at 4:30 p.m., an artist talk with Mavis Mueller will be followed by a parade down the new trail and a stop at Bishop’s Beach to unfurl her Earth Day banners.
An artist’s reception at 6:30 p.m. will be followed by keynote speaker Shannyn Moore, who will give her talk at 7:15 p.m.
But throughout the day, surrounding those key events, a wide spectrum of opportunities abound in the Center, with marimba and ukulele music to liven the air.
“It’s just all about human energy,” Daniel said. “And local people sharing ideas and reflections and our skills and our abilities.”
The Teaching Lab is hosting a variety of tables centered around earthy information. Various local groups will display and share knowledge on marine debris, land stewardship, invasive plants, wildlife rescue, local climate change, plastics, local trails and many other topics.
For the kids, face painting and silk painting will spread through the back hallway, and hopefully outside, weather permitting.
Three movies will play over the course of the day — The Ataraxia Project, We Can’t Eat Gold and the Economics of Happiness.
Several demonstrations are available for curious onlookers, including a green building materials demonstration and a demonstration on preserving and cooking with kale (a product that has become plentiful in many a home garden in recent years, Daniel said.) Visitors can learn about Homer’s high tunnels, dream pillows, local shorebirds and how to make almond milk.
Asia Freeman will speak about old town Homer, and Bob Shavelson will discuss the state of Alaska’s permitting process when it comes to development that impacts the environment.
There will also be a storytelling session with Craig Phillips in the Visitor Center’s shorebird room.
During the day, local homesteading families will demonstrate the skills and tools that help them live a sustainable life — including several farm animals. Lisa and Daniel Zatz will also be offering visitors a look and a test drive in their electric cars.
It’s a truly rich opportunity to learn some interesting things, Daniel said, and there are no fees for any of the activities, nor will anyone be selling or pitching anything.
She hopes that this celebration is the start of a growing tradition that shares the wealth of environmental knowledge and skill available in Homer. From sustainable living to protection of wild spaces, the celebration is a time to appreciate and learn from those diverse gifts, she said.
“Our intention was to bring together talented local people that reflect all facets of Homer,” Daniel said. “To empower ourselves both individually, (and) as a community. To address our environmental challenges and foster a culture here of sustainability around Kachemak Bay.”
Like Earth Day, KBCS began in the 1970s. It is a volunteer run organization that partners with other organizations around the state to work on issues that impact the environmental health of Kachemak Bay — from wetlands to beluga whales, from state parks to oil exploration. KBCS is the second oldest environmental organization in the state of Alaska.
“The common goal, ultimately, is protecting the Kachemak Bay natural environment,” Daniel said.
Other opportunities to celebrate Earth Day in Homer include Cook Inletkeeper’s annual electronics recycling event Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. The annual South Peninsula Hospital Kids’ Safety Fair will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Homer High School. At Land’s End Resort, the fourth annual Kenai Peninsula Agricultural Forum will offer information on agricultural services, design and more from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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