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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Go for the Green at the Pinellas Living Green Expo

The Pinellas Living Green Expo returns to the Harborview Center in downtown Clearwater on Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3. The event is free and open to the public. More than 120 exhibitors and vendors will share their knowledge and expertise about living a sustainable way of life on Florida’s West Coast. Pinellas County Environmental Lands Division, Pinellas County Extension and Pinellas County Utilities will be among the exhibitors offering green-living information localized for Pinellas County residents.

The theme of the Pinellas Living Green Expo is Save Money...Save the Environment. In today’s uncertain economic climate, it is more important than ever to understand and embrace sustainability and green-living solutions to preserve natural resources and save money.

This year’s Expo will include multiple scheduled information sessions covering diverse subjects including green tax rebates and incentives, bio-fuels, solar power, efficient mass transit, how to retrofit a home for energy efficiency and building a new “Platinum” LEED-Certified home. Pinellas County experts will be on hand presenting a variety of topics including Rain Harvesting, Reducing Your Waste Stream: The 3 R’s, Being Green at Home and Work, Selecting the Right Plant for the Right Place, and Climate Change: the Science, the Impacts, and the Solutions.

Pinellas County Extension educators will also be working with Expo coordinators in the lobby of the Harborview Center conducting research through quick and easy on-line surveys about citizens’ journeys to sustainability.

The Pinellas Living Green Expo will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 3. The Harborview Center is located at 300 Cleveland St. in downtown Clearwater. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit

Monday, April 13, 2009

Join Us As We Celebrate the Earth!

Please join us this Saturday, April 18 at an extra-special Market in the Park which will feature extra exhibitors and programs in celebration of Earth Day.

In addition to the fabulous foods and products found at the Market each week, on Saturday we will be joined by friends from Pinellas County Utilities, Environmental Management, the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation, the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

Trees donated by the Botanical Gardens Foundation and the Native Plant Society will be given away during this celebration.

From 9:00-1:00 Miami-based public artist Xavier Cortada will be on hand to discuss his sustainability-themed art installation in the Gardens.

For families, there will be a Family Fun area set-up with lots of fun, interactive games and crafts to enjoy.

For more information:
Florida Botanical Gardens Earth Day Celebration
Xavier Cortada Participatory Art Project
Market in the Park

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How the First Earth Day Came About

By Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

What was the purpose of Earth Day? How did it start? These are the questions I am most frequently asked. Actually, the idea for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962.

For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political "limelight" once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President. The President began his five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963.

For many reasons the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day. I continued to speak on environmental issues to a variety of audiences in some twenty-five states. All across the country, evidence of environmental degradation was appearing everywhere, and everyone noticed except the political establishment. The environmental issue simply was not to be found on the nation's political agenda. The people were concerned, but the politicians were not.

After President Kennedy's tour, I still hoped for some idea that would thrust the environment into the political mainstream. Six years would pass before the idea that became Earth Day occurred to me while on a conservation speaking tour out West in the summer of 1969. At the time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called "teach-ins," had spread to college campuses all across the nation. Suddenly, the idea occurred to me - why not organize a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment?

I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda. It was a big gamble, but worth a try. At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air - and they did so with spectacular exuberance.

For the next four months, two members of my Senate staff, Linda Billings and John Heritage, managed Earth Day affairs out of my Senate office. Five months before Earth Day, on Sunday, November 30, 1969, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the astonishing proliferation of environmental events: "Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...." It was obvious that we were headed for a spectacular success on Earth Day.

It was also obvious that grassroots activities had ballooned beyond the capacity of my U.S. Senate office staff to keep up with the telephone calls, paper work, inquiries, etc. In mid-January, three months before Earth Day, John Gardner, Founder of Common Cause, provided temporary space for a Washington, D.C. headquarters. I staffed the office with college students and selected Denis Hayes as coordinator of activities. Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated.

That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.