In the 1960s, America’s political focus was on war and finances. President Kennedy spoke of Cold War strategies and representatives debated about taxes. Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson was seemingly alone in his desperate fight to save the planet.
Frustrated after several failed attempts to rally his fellow statesmen to favor environmental legislature, he began to notice the grassroots anti-war movements of the American university students. He realized that their self-organized voice was a powerful force. Nelson harnessed the strength of these movements to propel his concerns into the faces of American politicians.
Nelson announced his ideas to a small Seattle group in September of 1969. Media and activists caught hold of the information and spread it to the entire nation. By November, the senator selected the date for the very first Earth Day: April 22, 1970.
From the dedicated work of the American public, the annual celebration gained support from Washington, D.C. “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level,” Nelson said, according to www.nelsonearthday.net. “We had neither the time nor the resources to organize the 20 million demonstrators who participated from thousands of schools and local communities. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”
In 2011, communities around the nation still plant trees, pick up trash and reduce energy use around April 22 in honor of their planetary home. Environmental enthusiasts here in Wilmington coordinated plenty of events for area residents to take part in this year’s Earth Day.
Wilmington Earth Day
Sat., April 30 • noon-6pm
Hugh MacRae Park
314 Pine Grove Dr.
Mike Blair and the Stonewalls start the party when the sun rises at high noon. Patrons of the festival will encounter about 60 exhibitors and vendors, like the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance, all promoting ways for citizens to support the green movement. Little ones will enjoy the Kids’ Eco-Zone, which has activities to teach them how to be friends of their planet, too.
Tidal Creek Co-op, Mellow Mushroom, Luna Pops and Rita’s Italian Ice will provide food, and there will be beer and wine for sale during the event. Ilad continues the live music at 2 p.m., and Rayland Baxter will play at 4 p.m.
Pender Earth Day
Sat., April 30 • 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Poplar Grove Plantation
10200 US HWY 17 N.
An all-female committee of business owners and community leaders within Pender County planned this second annual Earth Day festival, wherein local green vendors will present sustainable resources.
Pender High School is a big part of the event, too, as the Army Junior Reserve Office Corps conducts the opening ceremony. Student volunteers will offer face painting and a DIY T-shirt dye center in the Kids’ Zone, while the school band will provide some of the live entertainment. Other artists on the bill include jazz duo Lisa and Galen and Stump Sound Ramblers.
Quartermaster’s Restaurant will serve lunch, and snack vendors such as Kona Ice will be on hand throughout the day. Aptly titled Mother Earth Beer will be available, as well as Pender County Bannerman Wine.
Riverfront Farmer’s Market
Saturdays through December, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Features local farmers, artists and crafters. Products range from fruits and vegetables to jams and wine. Designed to encourage consumers to support locally grown farm products, as well as to provide a social gathering for greater Wilmington.
Poplar Grove Plantation
Wednesdays through December 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
10200 US HWY 17 N.
Plant, food and craft vendors galore, plus live music with Cindy Rhodes. April 27 market includes Grillin’ in the Grove cooking class, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with Chef Chris Kronenwetter of South Beach Grill. Pre-registration for course is required. Cost is $30; RSVP: (917) 969-2430. Farmer’s Market is free, of course.
Pleasure Island Fresh Market
Saturdays through May 7 • 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Carolina Beach Marina, King Avenue
Twenty-three vendors, including local farmers, craftsmen and artists, align the marina in this open-air market.
Spring Kayak Demo Day
Sat., April 23 • 8 a.m.
Blockade Runner, 275 Waynick Blvd.
Representatives from Native Watercraft and Heritage Kayak will be on site for folks to try several different kayaks for free, including fishing and recreational kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. E-mail Chris Tryon at email@example.com for more info.
Cape Fear Naturalist Activities
Masonboro Island Shuttle departs daily on the hour, sunset at 6:30 p.m., for $25 a passenger. • Drift Fishing, departs daily at 9 a.m., everything included for $30/passenger. • Pirate Treasure Hunt or Cruise, daily at 4 p.m. or any time by reservation, $30 per adult and $20 per kid. • Eco-birding Excursion, daily on the hour, $35 per passenger.
Greenfield Lake Eco-Tours
A fur to eight person cruise with Cape Fear River Watch on the extremely quiet electric tour boat. Venture through cypress swamps and experience the wildlife of the lake; 1.5 hour cruise, $15 per passenger. Contact Scott to make reservations, (919) 323-0715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NC Coastal Reserve Volunteer Training Sessions
UNCW Center for Marine Science
5600 Marvin Moss Lane
Information and training sessions on monitoring programs at Masonboro Island Reserve, developed to teach local citizens how they can help. Session 1 focuses on Sea Turtles and Diamondback Terrapins. Speakers will cover natural history and ecology of the reptiles, and the protection efforts of the reserve. Thurs., April 28; 6-7:30pm. Session 2: features Birds of the Marsh and Groundnesting Shore Birds. Speakers cover research on bird populations and ways to assist the reserve. Thurs., May 5; 6-7:30 p.m.
Reception April 22, 6-9pm
Show to May 1
Projekte Gallery • 523 S. 3rd St.
Local environmental artists put their work on display. Vicky Smith mines her own clay on 20 acres of family land, which she uses to maker her art. Leon Patchett from Scotland works primarily with found wood to create sculptures. Benjamin Simon Belmont recycles found objects into his whimsical artwork. The Earth Day reception will feature light edibles and a wine tasting.
Environmental Book Club
First Tuesday of each month 7pm
Old Books on Front Street
249 N. Front St.
Presented by Going Green magazine, the next book club meeting will be May 5. The book of the month is “Bringing Nature Home” by Douglas Tallamy. On May 12 Tallamy will give a free lecture at the New Hanover County Public Library.