Salida’s Earth Day Report

350 Central Colorado was prominently represented at Riverside Park in Salida on April 25th at the Earth Day celebration, “You and the World Around You.”

Board members erected a large booth provided by Bob and Kay Parker that included displays depicting the devastation caused by the massive open pit tar sands oil mining in Canada and the advantages of wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy development.

The big hit of the day was Slushy the Polar Bear (Bob) who greeted youngsters and led them in a game of ‘musical ice floes’ to demonstrate the loss of ice in arctic and antarctic due to global warming causing climate change that threatens the ice the polar bears need to survive. The strategy is to involve kids as well as their parents being aware of the real threats to our planet from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

350 CC members also helped youngsters color and build pinwheels for Earth Day in a fun and practical demonstration of wind power and also distributed information flyers on our group and its mission to educate residents of the environmental issues facing the planet and ways to mitigate the effects of climate change already being realized locally and globally.

350 CC co-chair Mel Strawn said “Although the turnout for Earth Day at the Riverside Park Saturday was modest, the 350 Central Colorado booth site was quite busy most of the time. After setting up, most of my own activity was observing and engaging some of those who seemed interested in learning a bit more. l was not surprised at a heckler or two who seemed to mildly register opinions against any need for or the efficacy of alternative forms of energy such as solar installations or wind farms.”

“Some folks, on the other hand, wanted to know what “350” referred to; they knew nothing of the correspondence between our carbon emissions and the measured (as well as modeled) rise in average global temperature since the onset of our industrial revolution (1800 or so). Nor did they have any prior knowledge of the existence and enormous extent of the Alberta Tar Sands and the controversy/danger regarding the KXL pipeline across the Ogallala Aquifer just to our east,” Strawn said.

Bob Parker, 350 CC’s representative on the 350 Colorado State Board said the event provided 350 CC a lot of organizational exposure.

“We set up with excellent visibility in the park, using a 20 by 10-foot KD Canopy. One section was dedicated to showing children how to make pinwheels. They loved it and proudly left waving their pinwheels and becoming more aware of how to use the wind,” he said.

“While the kids were learning about the pin wheels parents absorbed a photo exhibition using professional displays of large (24″ x 36″) photographs depicting the tar sands extraction sites and others depicting a huge wind generator and some beautiful solar installations. There was also a wild fire depicted and one simply beautiful interface of ocean and land to help folk reflect on what we are striving for. With the photos were captions in large print giving the grim facts about tar sands and some positive facts about solar and wind energy.”

“Then there was Slushy. Slushy the Polar Bear traveled down from the Far North looking for his melted icebergs. Having arrived in Salida, he had great fun with the smaller children, talking with them and playing the melting iceberg game, having his picture taken with little ones (he did need the parent’s email addresses so the pictures could be sent) and cavorting while his assistants gave the children (little seals) autographed copies of himself and the caption “Let’s Save The Earth.”

“All in all we interacted in a most positive way with about 200 people. The event was not well advertised on a community basis so we were tickled that most everybody who came, came to see us. We think the community enjoyed that the same group who goes out on the highway spouting doom and gloom or having stuffy scientific forums could also let their hair down (so to speak) and have fun with the kids, ”Parker said.

The Salida event was sponsored by the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, (AHRA), Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) and Salida Recreation Department. Hundreds attended the mid-day event which featured booths and activities including the Cheyenne Mountain Zoomobile, displays by Trout Unlimited, Native American Research and Preservation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a free community yoga class, a GARNA hike for sixth graders on the Monarch Spur Trail and many more offerings.

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