Down to Earth // Bainbridge Ramps up for Earth Month in April

By Connie Bye

The headlines are somber—wildfires rampaging, polar ice melting, glaciers vanishing, oceans rising. Even so—or perhaps especially so—Bainbridge will be celebrating Earth Day throughout the month of April with events that will inspire, educate and foster family fun.

“We’re so bombarded with messages about the denigration of the Earth. There has to be an element of hope,” said Hilary Benson, program director at Montessori Country School, the site of the Islander Earth Day Festival on April 25, part of Earth Month events across Bainbridge.

Sustainable Bainbridge is coordinating activities planned by various groups, mainly weekends in April, and will post a calendar of events on its website, Look for historic tree walks, beach clean-ups, weed eradication projects and more. “There’s lots of overlap (between partner organizations), so it makes sense for us all to work as a team,” said Sustain- able Bainbridge board member Christine Perkins.

This year marks the fourth time that Bainbridge Island will hold a month-long cele- bration instead of a one-day event on Earth Day, which is observed nationwide on April 22. Branching out here has meant that Arbor Day, April 24, is also included.

When Earth Day started a half-century ago, the focus was on air and water quality, said Deb Rudnick, program manager for the Bainbridge Island Watershed Council. But today, people are thinking more about climate change, she said.

The world’s radically and rapidly changing climate can be especially confusing and upsetting for children, Benson noted. That’s why the celebration at Montessori Country School, across the street from Battle Point Park, is family-oriented with a focus on educational activities.

“There’s no admission charge, just fun things for families to do together,” Benson said. There will be food trucks, a toy swap, bike tune-up, crafts made with natural and upcycled materials, music, information booths, face painting, “a magical playground in the woods,” and more. It will be the third year for the school’s family celebration. The first time, about 200 people came to the woodsy campus. Last year, 300 or so participated and Benson expects that number to grow.

Earth Month activities across Bainbridge Island aim to help people see that even the small actions they take can make a difference. Also, look for an information booth when the Farmers’ Market reopens this spring or check out ideas and actions on the Sustainable Bainbridge website.

One of the most popular Earth Month events is the annual Trashion Show, Rud- nick said, featuring fashions crafted from items that could be reduced, reused or recycled. The event, on April 26 at Is- landWood, sells out, she said, as does a historic tree walk organized by the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

New partnerships and activities are added each year. Some ideas are big, others are small. Perkins said this year, area bakeries will be asked to make Earth Month-themed cookies. “The idea is simply to raise awareness of the planet.”

One goal is to spark interest in something that a person can do all year, not just in April, to improve the state of the planet, Perkins said. “Maybe they will decide to join Weed Warriors, become better educated about recycling and composting, or share with friends ways to reduce waste.”

Perkins touted the Drink Like You Live Here campaign, which urges reliance on reusable cups instead of disposables. “It’s a matter of getting into the habit, like bringing reusable bags for shopping.”

Rudnick said taking action in daily living can have a no- ticeable impact. For example, people could consider buying at least one previously used item instead of something new, she said.

It’s important for people to understand that they can battle “eco anxiety,” Rudnick said. “We’re in a world of trouble, and I don’t want to gloss over that. But you can’t help yourself or the planet if you are paralyzed by fear. Even if steps seem small, they can make a difference.”

Down to Earth