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This week: St. Pete goes green with Earth Day Festival

Bill DeYoung

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St. Pete Earth Day – in which armchair environmentalists, passionate “tree-huggers,” concerned citizens and the merely curious come together to celebrate and learn about all things green – takes place Saturday, April 21 in Williams Park, perhaps the greenest spot in Pinellas County.

Check your complaints and your politics at the door. This is a day to celebrate life.

The national Earth Day movement began in 1970, and today is recognized by billions of people across the globe. Officially, April 22 – the day after the local festival – is recognized as Earth Day in 2018.

One goal of the free event, says event organizer Lucinda L. Johnston, executive director of the St. Pete-based environmental action group Chart 411, is to demonstrate that sustainability – living life in a way that doesn’t damage the planet – is realistic for everyone.

“You don’t have to be an eco-purist to make a difference; you don’t have to hug a tree,” she laughs. “There’s so many little, simple things that all of us could do, every day that would make such a huge impact.”

To that end, Chart 411 – that’s the name of the nautical chart mariners use for the Gulf of Mexico – is a local distributor of re-useable plastic water bottles and both sponsor and cheerleader for dozens of local incentives and programs. Saturday, they’ll be unveiling a new outreach program called St. Pete Treekeepers, to help monitor, keep healthy and preserve our city’s urban trees.

Co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, City of St. Petersburg, Friends of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, Keep Pinellas Beautiful and other organizations, the 5th annual Earth Day St. Pete (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) brings together more than 100 exhibitors and vendors, most of them environmentally safe, sound and invested.

See the list of who’s who here.

There will be live animal displays, live music, food and drinks – and lots of information on our area’s green operations. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy will exhibit 11 electric cars.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff, just cool things about the planet and what a beautiful, magnificent place this is,” beams Johnston. “And about how you can learn to live a more sustainable life.”

Not only that, it should be a lovely spring day, outdoors in the park. Which, if you think about it, is kind of the whole point of Earth Day.

“But the main focus,” Johnston says, “is for everyone to learn something. And every year, when I’m planning it, I learn so much. Just by planning it! We try not to have all like-minded people there – it’s for everyone. Lots of things for kids. There is, literally, something there for everyone.”

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