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Earth Day Celebrates 40 Green Years in Philadelphia


http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisinphilly5448/The year 1970 kicked off a decade dedicated to promoting peace and love, and was host to the our very first Earth Day on April 22. Organized as an environmental teach-in, Earth Day was spearheaded by a Democratic U S Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson. In Philadelphia, Earth Day has an even more active, exciting history. Philadelphia students, mainly from the University of Pennsylvania, organized an Earth Week, which started on April 16 and culminated with special activities on April 22, 1970. It featured appearances by the likes of poet Allen Ginsberg, activitist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader, and landscape architect Ian McHarg. It was estimated that about 7,000 people packed onto Independence Mall and then Philadelphia saw upwards of 30,000 people participate in a "teach-in" in Fairmount Park

Today you can participate in a Climate Rally on The Mall in Washington, D.C., but with Philadelphia's rich history on the subject, it should be no surprise that on this 40th anniversary of Earth Day, there are many exciting events happening locally. 

Free with museum admission, the National Constitution Center is celebrating Earth Day with members of the Philadelphia Eagles and other local, eco-friendly organizations. They have organized a variety of programs that promote the benefits of locally grown foods, testing our homes for lead-based paints, and preserving our parks and green spaces. To help raise environmental awareness, the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders and team mascot SWOOP will host a “go green” game show entitled “Recycle Bowl” at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., to teach kids about sustainability in a fun, interactive way. There will also be the opportunity to make recycled paper and crafts from repurposed newspapers and magazines.

Love Your Park - By Fairmount Park True to its assistance in founding Earth Week, the University of Pennsylvania will host earth-friendly events all throughout the month. Today students can ditch their one-time-use plastic water bottles in favor of a reusables at the Green Campus Partnership’s water bottle giveaway, noon-2 p.m. on College Green. Also that day, Penn Dining will embrace food vendor Bon Appetit’s nationwide Low Carbon Diet Day event in all Penn Dining locations. 

Greening of Penn Relays begins April 22. The Relays will feature a large-scale recycling system and FSC-certified paper products for the first time in history. The Penn Relays School Days program takes place on April 23 and will educate K-8 students from Philadelphia-area schools about the importance of water conservation and a healthy lifestyle.

Other local institutions are doing what they can to preserve our resources. ING Cafe at 16th and Walnut Streets will be "lights out" today from noon to three to conserve electricity and utilize natural daylight.  

The Philadelphia Zoo will hold an Earth Day party this weekend, and at 2 p.m. today Mayor Nutter, designer Desiree Bender and students from Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program will debut 10 new recycling trucks with Earth-friendly designs, at Love Park.

So do what you can to celebrate 40 years of Earth Day in Philadelphia, either by participating in local events or doing what you can to preserve the environment!


PHOTOS: (Right) Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park by ChrisinPhilly on FlickR; (Left) Love Your Park logo by Philadelphia's Park Systems.