Earth Day observed around Summit County on 47th anniversary |

Earth Day observed around Summit County on 47th anniversary

Breckenridge resident Daniel Dunn, a sustainability studies student at Colorado Mountain College, was one of the Summit County presenters at CMC's second-annual sustainability conference on Thursday, April 21. The conference, at the Steamboat Springs campus (also happening Friday), is just one of the many chances area residents have to take part in Earth Day festivities on Friday, April 22.
Doug Stewart / Colorado Mountain College |

Today marks the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, and, around Summit County, various organizations are collaborating to pay tribute to the day of environmental education.

Last night, along with High Country Conservation Center (HC3), members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club, the national preservation nonprofit, hosted a free showing of the documentary “The Great Divide” at Colorado Mountain College (CMC)’s campus in Breckenridge. The feature-length film tells of the ever-increasing importance of water in the state and throughout the West and the urgency for conservation to maintain this vital resource.

Picking up right where the Sierra Club left off, HC3 — a leading voice in the community on sustainability issues — is today offering a lunchtime Fix-it Workshop for residents as its Earth Day observance. The idea is to offer locals a fun, active gathering to mend still serviceable items and prolong their life rather than throwing them away.

“Traditionally we have events, and it’s mostly like a party and nothing actually gets done,” said Jenny Hammock, HC3’s community programs manager. “We wanted to give people the knowledge and skills necessary to divert waste away from the landfill and an opportunity to take action as opposed to just kind of sitting around drinking beer, talking about helping the Earth.”

Residents are encouraged to show up today with outdated and nonworking items and torn articles of clothing between 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. to the Loveland Room at the Community and Senior Center in Frisco. HC3 has partnered with a number of county businesses to help repair and upgrade bicycles, electronics, wooden furniture, and tune skis and snowboards. An authority on sewing and simple patch repairs will also be on hand to assist with outdoor clothing fixes.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“We thought this was a really good, hands-on way for people to take ownership of actually participating in stewardship,” said Hammock. “(Come) take a couple minutes and talk to some experts and really take ownership.”

Modest Beginnings

Not unlike the fresh air we breathe, clean water we drink and beautiful mountain many of us soak in on a daily basis, Earth Day’s arrival is that of a practice to which most have simply become accustomed.

It wasn’t more than a couple generations back, however, that the annual celebration of the planet — often considered the birth of the modern environmental movement — didn’t even exist. In fact, the sanctioned occasion designed to educate the public about the environment of our natural world and increase attention on pollution that began in 1970 was initially viewed as a risk.

“It was a gamble,” Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, the late founder of Earth Day once recalled, according to the Earth Day Network, “but it worked.”

Influenced by both the anti-Vietnam War protests of the late-’60s and a significant oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969, he pitched the idea in Congress. He hoped to draw on both the swelling number of demonstrators organized to draw focus on the harmful actions and results of human expansion, as well as bipartisan support at the Capitol to curtail these destructive effects for the long-term health of our habitat.

Nowadays, the social event that was first proposed as a day to thrust environmental causes into the national spotlight has blossomed into a global holiday. It is even credited with helping produce the momentum and public support for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Endangered Species Act and Clean Air Act, among other important pieces of environmental legislation.

And it’s these types of actions and efforts that members of the Summit County community are continuing today.

Team Effort

The Summit School District is staying on top of Earth Day activities, too, ensuring that original intention of the celebration to perpetuate environmental education. Among others, every grade level at Silverthorne Elementary will partake in a different “green” activity.

All the way down to Silverthorne’s presechoolers and kindergartners — each of which will clean up the local neighborhood and school playground — everyone has a role. First- and third-graders will work on respective units on recycling, for example, while fifth-graders will plant a tree on school grounds, either on Earth Day or later in the school year, depending on the weather.

“The school has a very active ‘Green Team’ that keeps the spirit of Earth Day alive throughout the year,” said Gayle Westerberg, International Baccalaureate primary years programme coordinator at Silverthorne Elementary. “We strive to take action to make our world a better place.”

At Summit Cove Elementary in Dillon, an Earth Day play and songs will take place in the afternoon to ring in the tradition, and, at Upper Blue Elementary in Breckenridge, the school’s leadership team has planned an all-school assembly. From primary school up to post-secondary education, others within Summit County will also fulfill the environmental focus of the occasion.

Aside from helping present the water conservation documentary on Thursday night, CMC held a system-wide conference Thursday and Friday at its Steamboat Springs campus. There, Summit students and instructors, such as English professor Joyce Mosher and adjunct science faculty member Kristin Barrett, attended and gave presentations on sustainability.

Dominique Giroux, HC3’s office administrator, also offered words on the nonprofit’s work at the CMC conference on Thursday. And it’s HC3’s continued hope, as a torchbearer in the Summit County community on conservation, that people will honor Earth Day — be it with its repair seminar or through their own environmental endeavors on Friday.

“Just take a step back,” said Jenny Hammock, “look at the behavior that you’re partaking in and the impact that it’s having. In America, we have this consumeristic lifestyle, where we’re sort of trained to buy, and then, when something becomes obsolete, we throw it away and buy something new. The Fix-it Workshop is just the first step in taking an alternative way to address that behavior.”

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