Saturday, April 21 the Columbia Gorge will celebrate Earth Day with a festive event including speakers, music, parade, and fellowship.
Earth Day Schedule
4 p.m. — Sign (painting) and wine party, Riverside Community Church, Hood River
4 p.m. — Parade from Hood River Library grounds to Waterfront Park
5 p.m. — Guest speakers, “Love the Earth,” ceremony, music by the band Center Street
8:30 a.m. — All-day Environmental Education Forum (signup required) in White Salmon
“High school students helped plan the event and are leading the festivities. People from all walks of life are participating with the shared goal of creating a healthier planet,” said Peter Cornelison of Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “The connections between people and the natural amenities and resource abundance in the Gorge are as diverse as they are deep. Increasingly people are engaging in protection, conservation, restoration, and sustainable practices that demonstrate a commitment to a healthy ecosystem and the wellness of all beings in the Gorge, including the furry, feathered, and scaled residents. And, as we all know, the Gorge enjoys a good party!”
Also planned is the second annual Environmental Education Forum of the Columbia River Gorge, April 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as part of Earth Day Weekend.
The community is invited to attend a day of networking, peer-lead learning through small group breakout sessions and keynote addresses on this year’s theme: “How to cultivate a symbiotic relationship in a diverse community.” The forum will be at Mountain View Grange, and cost is $25; attendees are asked to bring an item for a potluck lunch.
Guest speakers include Jefferson Greene, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Pamela Larsen of Hood River, an artist and educator, and Erika Rench, who coordinates Confluence in the Classroom educational outreach.
Kenji Stasiewicz, who is coordinating the EE Forum this year under the umbrella of CultureSeed, a local nonprofit organization, said, “After such an inspiring congregation last year, I continue to run into people that rave to the networking impact and planting of collaborative seeds that the first year’s event encouraged. Thanks to Heather Kowaleski’s vision and dedication to create this annual event, the forum impacted so many people with a ripple effect that far exceeded anyone’s expectations. I look forward to seeing many of those that attended last year and meeting new people who are interested in joining this year.”
Registration is required, at CultureSeed.org.
Details are available at EEForum@cultureseed.org.
Cornelison said the theme “Earth Day: Think the World of It” conveys the message that “every day can be a day in which we consider our impact on the Earth,” said co-organizer Sofie Larsen-Teskey. “The thoughtful micro-changes each of us make will lead to macro-changes for the Earth,” said Larsen-Teskey, co-president the Earth Action Club at Hood River Valley High School.
Rev. John Boonstra of Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network added, “We care about, celebrate, and defend what we love. This year’s Earth Day activities invite us to renew our vows to the planet we respect.
“One activity during the Earth Day celebration is an opportunity for each of us to express our gratitude to the Earth, to reaffirm our commitment to wise practices and thoughtful choices that create positive lasting health and well-being for this region and beyond,” Boonstra said.
“To adore the earth’s beauty is to live more sustainably, to use renewable energy, and to walk with humility through nature. When we gather on Earth Day, we recommit, and hold each accountable to be good stewards and protectors of the natural world. It is what lovers do!” During the event, keep an eye out for high school students and community members walking amongst the crowd with markers, white-boards, and chalk inviting each of us to express our vow to the Earth, our heartfelt Earth intention for this year, or our commitment to enhancing the vitality of the region.
Event organizers encourage all to come and participate “in fellowship and fun,” Cornelison said.
“Go wild and express your inner artist on cardboard at a ‘Sign (painting) and Wine’ party from 4-7 p.m. at Riverside Church (317 State St.) on Friday April 20.
The gathering begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the Georgiana Smith Park next to Hood River Library for speakers and a group sing before a parade way through town to Hood River Waterfront Park about 5 p.m. Wear a favorite wild animal costume.
At Waterfront Park starting at about 5 p.m., celebrators will enjoy a few more inspirational talks, participate in writing and drawing activities in which we individually express our vow to the Earth, and hold a brief “Love of Earth” ceremony. Plus, if there is no rain, dance to the music of Center Street (Blues, Latin, and Rock) with male and female harmonies integrated with acoustic and electric guitars and percussion.
“Although the Earth Day festivities will wrap up around 7 p.m., each of us will feel renewed in our commitment to honor and celebrate the Earth every day, in ways akin to how we cherish our dearest friends and loved ones,” Cornelison said.