Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival goes virtual


Moriah Chiang

“Earth Day” and “virtual” tend to be two mutually-exclusive concepts. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has moved this year’s Earth Day festival online.

Abigail Dees, Staff Writer

The Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council (CEC) hosted their first Earth Day in 1970. Twenty years later, in 1990, the celebration was revived. Since then, the council has hosted an annual Earth Day event which provides a place for environmental organizations to promote their work and their policies. 

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, on April 22 through 24, the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council is hosting a virtual festival. These three days will be dedicated to celebrating all the recent advancements made while calling attention to the work that is left to be done.

This year, there is a special focus on educating the community on climate leadership. There will be performances, art showings, competitions, and speeches from leaders in the environmental activist world held on a livestream. At 11:00 am to noon and 5:30-6:30 each night, listeners will have the opportunity to join virtual booths put together by other local organizations devoted to preventing climate change. The three days will also outline ways in which people can reverse the adverse effects they have had on the environment, repair the disrupted carbon cycle, and protect the public from the impacts of climate change. 

Sharyn Main, Climate Resilience Program Director of the CEC, explained the importance of the festival to future generations. “It can grow a whole new generation of environmental activists and empower youth to come into their voice – it’s their future and their world.”

She advised those concerned about the state of the planet to find empowerment by counting their small wins while still keeping the larger goal in mind. She spoke on the slow but steady pace of change.

“The CEC started out working on recycling 50 years ago – piloting one of the first recycling programs in the country,” Main said. “And now recycling is normalized. We’re doing the same with moving toward renewable energy. It seemed like a long shot to move governments to adopt 100% clean energy goals, but now the state and federal government are pushing to be ‘carbon neutral’ by 2035.” 

Main encouraged the whole community to continue pursuing the preservation of the Earth. “Everyone can make a difference. Everyday choices add up – and this awareness makes you more aware of the bigger picture and opens up your eyes to the intersectionality of everything – the environment, social justice, the economy, and the spirit. Your actions and voice matters and when you feel empowered by knowledge, you can sway decision makers, advocate for policy change and vote for people who have the same value to improve the planet for everyone!”

In the past year, increases in the use of plastic and additional waste from COVID-19 introduced some new setbacks, but Main maintains a positive outlook.“This is a key theme of resilience – not to bounce back to the way things were – but to bounce forward after a disruption, be it fire, flood, or pandemic – smarter, better prepared, and with those ‘cracks’ fixed.” 

“Perhaps this pragmatic approach is how I maintain hope for people and the planet!” she added. “We find better ways in times of crises and when those ways ‘stick’ beyond the crises, you have changed for the better.”

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