Earth Day event: a community celebration

What do electric cars, orchard pigs and prayer flags have in common?
Stop by the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center Saturday to find out. Although Earth Day was officially April 22, Homer’s Earth Day Celebration starts at noon this Saturday.
“Think Globally, Act Locally – Make a Difference!” is the theme. The purpose, according to its sponsor, the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, is to promote local environmental advocacy and action. It will be an opportunity for people to share how their projects integrate and reflect environmental responsibility and  sustainable living principles.
 Jim Stearns and Laurie Daniel, both board members of KBCS, are coordinating the event. Since February, when they started planning, they have scheduled more than 30 different talks, demonstrations, activities and information booths. Except for the artist reception and keynote address, it all happens between noon and 6 p.m.  
“Our aim is to incorporate environmental awareness and local sustainability to commemorate and celebrate Earth Day here,” said Daniel, who has been on the KBCS board of directors for nearly 20 years.
She is already looking ahead to next year’s celebration. “We want to grow this,” she said.
Both Stearns and Daniel said they were impressed with the passion of the community — and how quickly people responded. They noted that there are local individuals, groups, businesses and organizations that walk this talk.
“We’ve actually had to turn a few things away,” said Daniel. “People are coming to us last minute.”
Stearns describes himself as “the events guy,” a job he’s been doing for 25 years, including the coordination of the annual Salmonstock Music Festival held at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik. Stearns has been on the KBCS board for a year and a half, and it was his idea to do something “more splashy” for Earth Day. Daniel, a local wildlife biologist, had been wanting KBCS to revive Earth Day recognition locally.  Their joint result is Saturday’s lineup.
“Laurie and I make a great team,” said Stearns. “I draw the canvas and she’s filling in all the pieces, you know?”
Stearns and Daniel said their intent was to create a really dynamic event that’s different than the usual Homer-fair format. They started out with asking well-known Alaska commentator Shannyn Moore, who grew up in Homer, to speak. Then, they talked with Mavis Muller about doing something with her historic Exxon Valdez Oil Spill banners —  the 25th anniversary of the spill was in March. When they approached Islands and Ocean about hosting the event they were “absolutely on board,” said Daniel.
After they learned there was a planned dedication for the Beluga Slough Trail with Wendy Erd’s poetry, things really began to fall into place. This year’s celebration will highlight Erd, Muller and Moore. Stearns and Daniel refer to them as “The Dynamic Three” (see story, below).
“One’s a writer. One’s a community activist-artist. One’s a political pundit,” said Daniel. “We are fortunate to have these women as a reflection of our community whose diverse work on, with and in the local environment and environmental issues helps shape and support us as a whole community.”
From the electric cars and livestock in the front parking lot to the back patio, Islands and Ocean will be brimming with examples of environmental advocacy and sustainable living in Homer.
Tables with a wide variety of information will fill the teaching lab. The back hall is dedicated to activities for kids — like painting silk banners or faces. There also will be children’s storytelling in the visitor center’s Seabird Experience Exhibit. (The bird and ocean sound effects will be turned down.) Attendees can create Earth Day prayer flags and locally grown herbal dream pillows in the lobby. The seminar room will be host to presentations and food demonstrations. Three films, “We Can’t Eat Gold,” “The Ataraxia Project” and “The Economics of Happiness” will be shown in the auditorium.
Biker? Hiker? Paddler? Come learn about the city trails map project, Kachemak Drive trail project and the new Kachemak Bay Water Trail system.
Artist? Builder? Butter maker? Wait — butter maker? Come see a demonstration on making butter or learn about alternative and green building materials, including rocket stoves. For the artist within, try out Earth Day prayer flag-making or take part in Mavis Muller’s “Unfurled” at Bishop’s Beach.
Gardener? Cook? Learn about high tunnels and the positive impact they have on the locally grown food supply. Or how to cook, preserve and eat local foods year round.
Throughout the day the Williwaw Marimba Band will perform, with  the Homer Ukulele Group playing during the artists’ reception.
There will be no items for sale, no admission and no activity fees.
“Nobody’s going to lobby you for something,” said Daniel. “Just come and learn and have fun and play and celebrate and help us recognize the ways that we all do this.”
Toni Ross is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.

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