Since its debut back in 1970 in efforts to raise awareness for and to create a community that strives to protect our environment, Earth Day has since been celebrated around the world. Now, 50 years later, Earth Day South Sound has been created in partnership with Metro Parks Tacoma, Tacoma Tree Foundation, Pierce Conservation District, Northwest Trek along with many others to honor this tradition all year long.

Throughout the month of April though, in light of the pandemic, their efforts have been taken virtually to the South Sound Website, Facebook page and Instagram to create daily events and actions everyone can participate in together — but separate. Each day they’re posting new actions that anyone can partake in order to take action and create a cleaner environment for our community. 

Since April 1, Earth Day South Sound has hosted virtual celebrations, nature updates, webinars and other informational tools regarding ways in which individuals can become involved despite the stay at home orders. The goal of establishing this year-long cause is to plant a tree for every child residing within the South Sound region — amounting to a total of 210,000 trees this year. 

Reaching beyond this feat, they’re working to involve and invite community members as well as businesses to participate and lengthen the reach of their mission. Currently comprised of 12 partners in total, not only are they partnering with businesses and organizations, but they’re also prompting other community members to volunteer and share their “tree stories.” These stories, documenting ways in which individuals are practicing mindful habits and celebrating our earth every day, are available to read and open for submissions on their website as well.  

Their webinars, on the other hand, present new topics with different specialists residing within the environmental field. So far they’ve had Walter Fertig — a state botanist with the Washington Natural Heritage Program — discuss hunting for plants in Washington state. David Giblin has also discussed Washington’s flora and updates to acknowledge the importance of tracking these patterns in regard to plant biodiversity, a slideshow presentation and discussion with Fayla Schwartz — Olympic Chapter Chair and retired Botany Instructor at the Everett Community College — that explores native plants and habitats in our peninsula, as well as a tutorial with Giblin using the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria Online Database. This discusses the tools to use for a multitude of tasks — from planting and identifying specimen to understanding how to navigate your data. If you’re interested you can visit their event calendar for more details and future events. 

South Sound isn’t the only one emphasizing the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year. The Department of History, the College of the Environment, Nature & Health, and UW Earth Day 50th Anniversary from the UW Sustainability Office is set to host an online lecture on April 22. Titled, “Earth Day 50th Anniversary: Gaia Has a Fever,” assistant professor at Bucknell University, Jennifer Thomson, will hold an online discussion in relation to her book “The Wild and the Toxic: American Environmentalism and the Politics of Health” in which she explores history of and present day environmental politics. 

If interested, you can find out more and register for the live stream online at: https://events.uw.edu/c/express/29ee6e59-4326-4834-b3f4-6ab9d8cdd35e?fbclid=IwAR2PVURzjbQS7SIMEBAiQ2jX1kMkEXtDMV2pXpLbRs6hXi1wnf26CI24xMc

PHOTO BY TALIA COLLETT
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