Land & Environmental

Bounty of village Earth Day events

To celebrate the first national Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, Yellow Springers paraded through town via human-powered transport, Antioch College students handed out 2,000 homeade loaves of bread door-to-door with an invitation to the festivities, Earth Fair attendees brainstormed ideas for “household ecology,” and Yellow Springs High School students piled downtown trash in a parking lot.

To commemorate the 42nd annual Earth Day this weekend, villagers can learn how to keep bees at the Green Fair, get their hands dirty on the Antioch College farm, run a 5-K at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, get a dogwood sapling at Corner Cone, hear about the danger of nuclear power at an Antioch University Midwest forum, celebrate the planet with music and dancing at the Live Earth Music and Art Festival and more.

In 2012, as in 1970, a mix of fun and education are on hand as an environmentally conscious village steps up to raise awareness about the beauty, and fragility, of the global ecosystem.

“It’s a time to celebrate our collective efforts to protect the environment,” said Antioch College farm manager Kat Cline, of Earth Day. “People are doing it throughout the year, but this is a time to highlight them.”

Cline will take visitors on a tour of the farm on Saturday, from 3 to 4 p.m. and put volunteers to work from 4 to 5 p.m.

Lara Bauer, organizer of the first Live Earth Music and Art Festival, on Saturday evening at the Glen Helen Building, said she hopes the event will attract out-of-towners looking to Yellow Springs for ideas for sustainable living.

“People are interested in knowing more about what sustainability means and how we can do it together,” Bauer said. “The mainstream tells us it’s not possible but if you look around in Yellow Springs you see people who are starting to do it. I think Yellow Springs is a place to look for an example.”

The Glen celebrates

A center of environmental education and nature recreation for the community and region, Glen Helen Ecology Institute will, not surprisingly, host a variety of Earth Day activities.

At its Earth Day Green Fair, at the Outdoor Education Center from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, there will be booths, demonstrations and hands-on activities on goats, bees, reptiles, yoga, Native American artifacts and more. The task of organizing the local Green Fair, started by former Ecomental owner C.J. Williams in 2009, has been taken on by Glen Helen.

Visitors can also play with baby chicks, at the Trailside Museum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, help remove invasive species in the South Glen, from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday (RSVP required), see raptors up close at a Raptor Center tour, on Sunday at 2 p.m., and learn to identify wildflowers on a hike with local phenologist Daniel Pearson on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. (departing from Trailside Museum).

“It’s the one day that we are trying to harness the interest around ‘one earth’ to raise awareness of the Glen,” said Glen Helen project manager Brooke Bryan. “If we get families out having fun in the environment, we’re doing a good thing.”

But Glen Helen’s most popular Earth day activity will undoubtedly be its second annual 5-kilometer trail race and quarter-mile kids’ fun run, which together brought out 600 people and nearly 400 runners and walkers last year. A regional draw, the event is one of the only 5-K races located in a nature preserve and a major fundraiser for the Glen.

Where many trail races are up steep slopes in treacherous terrain, the Glen run takes place on gently sloping ground. Departing from the Outdoor Education Center at 11 a.m., the race follows the fire road and goes through the pine forest meadow. The path was carefully selected to avoid runner injury and to protect the most sensitive areas of the Glen, Bryan said.

Runners must register before noon on Friday, April 20 at the Glen Helen Web site in order to be guaranteed a commemorative T-shirt. The cost is $30 for adults and $10 for those under 16. The kids’ fun run kicks off at 10 a.m. One-half hour before each race is stretching provided by Yoga Springs Studio and the Inner Light Wellness’ Yellow Springs Youth Yoga Project.

Because no vehicles will be allowed to park at the Outdoor Education Center, all runners, spectators and Green Fair attendees must hike in, or take a shuttle that runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. from the John Bryan Community Center.

Nuclear awareness

On the other edge of town, Antioch University will host a discussion of nuclear power at the free forum “Lessons from Fukushima: Is Ohio next?” from 10:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Organized by AUM’s Sustainability Program, the latest news will be shared on the Japanese nuclear reactors that melted down after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami along with the possibility of a similar nuclear disaster in the U.S.

“When we hear about disasters in foreign countries we think the problem is just over there,” said co-organizer Brian Victoria, a professor of Japanese studies at Antioch Education Abroad. “But it is very much our problem. It could’ve happened here in Ohio. That’s what we’re trying to alert people to.”

A short BBC documentary, A Is For Atom, on the history of the nuclear age will be screened at 10:15 a.m., Victoria will speak at 1:30 p.m., Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog for the non-profit Beyond Nuclear, will present at 2:15 p.m. and Mark Shanahan, who served as energy adviser to former Gov. Ted Strickland, will talk about nuclear energy in Ohio at 3:45 p.m.

Victoria, who recently visited the Fukushima area with Antioch Education Abroad students, said that Americans know little about the true extent of the disaster there. Radiation continues to leak into the environment because no one can enter the containment buildings to fix the problem, since the radiation within could kill someone within 10 minutes, he said. And the prospect of an unprecedented, large-scale spread of cancer-causing radiation across the planet still looms as there are fears that the stored spent fuel rods on site could release a massive amount of radiation in the event of a likely major earthquake.

“If the spent fuels in either [building] three or four would collapse, it would mean the immediate evacuation of 33 million people,” Victoria said. “Radiation 200 times that released in Chernobyl would be in the atmosphere in the Ohio and U.S.”

Closer to home, there are 23 nuclear reactors in the United States of the same flawed design as those used in Fukishima, some of which are located near fault lines, Victoria said. And in Ohio there is a nuclear enrichment plant being built in Piketon in southern Ohio, along with plans for new plants on the Ohio River, said AUM professor and event co-organizer Joe Cronin.

A free light lunch will also be served and area companies and non-profits will be on hand with information on nuclear alternatives.

“I’m a firm believer if you’re going to say to people that you should not use a certain kind of energy, there should be alternatives to offer,” said co-organizer Stella Savage, an AUM sustainability major. “If you’re saying nuclear is bad, you should have an alternative.”

Kites, trees, sculpture

On the lighter side, the First Presbyterian Church will host kite-making from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. There anyone can design and decorate a kite, with suggested donations going to the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis in Dayton next month. Another interactive event will take place at Yellow Springs Arts Council’s new space at 111 Corry Street, where local artists Beth Holyoke and Käthi Seidl are enlisting the help of others to create an earthen plaster sculpture with an Earth Day theme from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The Yellow Springs Tree Committee will give away dogwood saplings at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Corner Cone in honor of its re-opening for the season. The Little Art Theatre will screen Home, a climate change documentary made entirely with aerial footage, at 4 p.m. on Sunday. And visitors are invited to the fourth firing of the wood manabigama kiln at John Bryan Community Pottery at 2 p.m. on Saturday and can watch as the fires are stoked all night long.

Another event reaching into the evening hours is the first Live Earth Music and Art Festival at the Glen Helen Building, which is organized by Sister Moon Productions with financial support from the Yellow Springs Arts Council. From 5 p.m. to midnight, four local bands will play, live artists will create on-site and vendors will sell handmade crafts, food and drinks.

Lara Bauer of Sister Moon said the festival is about showcasing local talent and commemorating Earth Day with music and dance, which is the “primal way to celebrate living on earth.”

Taken together, the weekend events are a part of the “Yellow Springs eARTh Day Experience,” though most were organized independently. Visit www.yellow-springs-experience.org for a full event schedule.

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