KALAMAZOO, Mich.—For the third straight year, Kalamazoo County will celebrate Earth Day in downtown Kalamazoo.
The 2019 Kalamazoo Earth Day Festival will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Bronson Park. This year's theme is "101,000 Acts of Green." Dr. Allen Webb, Western Michigan University professor of English and chair of the Kalamazoo Earth Day Committee says the theme was inspired by the number of households in the county—101,000.
"We want to encourage and celebrate the very many things that so many people are doing, and could be doing to protect our environment," Webb says. "We're collecting 'acts of green,' and we'll be counting them from now until next year's Earth Day, which, by the way, will be Earth Day's 50th anniversary."
Acts of green are steps people can take with friends, family or an organization to promote sustainability. This could be anything from planting a tree or making a home more energy efficient to banding together to clean up a neighborhood river or write letters to governmental officials about an environmental issue.
Kalamazoo's Earth Day celebration
The first Earth Day took place April 22, 1970. Globally, it is officially observed each year on April 22 with events that support the environment and raise awareness for the environmental protection and care of the planet.
Kalamazoo County's observance is being organized by the Kalamazoo Earth Day Committee with major support from WMU's Western Student Association and Office for Sustainability; Kalamazoo College; the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Sierra Club, and many other businesses and organizations.
The event will include a variety of entertaining as well as educational activities and displays. They include:
- educational speakers
- electric cars
- environmental art
- games for all ages
- nearly 100 organization and business booths
- live music and food trucks
- professional performers
- children's activities, including animal-themed face painting
- singers from El Sol Elementary and Kalamazoo Central High School
"There will be a ton of kids and family activities this year," Webb reports, "including many free children's books on environmental themes that will be given away both by the festival committee and the Kalamazoo Public Library, which will have a booth in the park as well as displays in the library across the street from the park."
He also notes that organizers are coordinating with the Kalamazoo Valley Museum to set up rain garden walks and are advocating that WMU students use their free access to the city's bus system to go from campus to the festival and back.
Event history, more information
Webb says a group of WMU professors and students concerned about climate change decided to resurrect Earth Day in the city of Kalamazoo three years ago.
"We wanted to make it a fun and educational event, especially one where people could learn about the looming dangers facing our beautiful planet because of human-caused global warming," he says. "The downtown Kalamazoo festival has grown from there, and no less than nine separate WMU bodies are co-sponsors this year. But we wouldn't have such a wonderful event today if it weren't for the involvement and support of many organizations, and the thousands of students and residents who come out to recognize and celebrate Earth Day."
The Kalamazoo Earth Day Committee is seeking day-of volunteers to help with this year's activities. To volunteer or register an act of green, go to the Kalamazoo Nature Center's Earth Day webpage and click the appropriate links.
To learn more about the festival, visit Kalamazoo Earth Day Festival on Facebook and click Events. Direct questions to Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 547-8359. To find other local events being held this month in honor of Earth Day, visit the Discover Kalamazoo website and click Events.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.