Earth Day is coming up on Friday, April 22nd, and public celebrations in the local area are set to begin Saturday, April 16th, and continue through Saturday, April 23rd.

The idea for Earth Day was to thrust environmental issues into the political mainstream, according to former Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who pushed for Earth Day to be recognized by the Federal Government and who is often given credit as the founder of Earth Day.

“It had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country,” wrote Nelson about how he felt in the early 1960s. The first officially recognized Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970.

Local celebrations include a film festival at Santa Monica College, a bird migration celebration at Ballona Wetlands and a street festival on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.

EARTH DAY FILM FESTIVAL — An Earth Day Film Festival, featuring screenings of documentaries showcasing environ- mental activism and current environmental hot topics, is scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. on Earth Day Friday, April 22nd; and 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 23rd, at Santa Monica College, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Admission is free.

The festival, organized by Santa Monica College professor and documentary filmmaker Sheila Laffey, will feature follow-up discussions with most of the filmmakers after each screening.

Special guests who plan to attend the festival include actor/activist Ed Begley, Jr. and author Adeline Peter Raboff.

Raboff appears in the film Oil on Ice, about the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the oil industry’s attempts to drill in the area.

Begley plans to speak before and after the screening of The Last Stand: Heroes at Ballona Wetlands, directed by Earth Day Film Festival organizer Sheila Laffey.

A number of the filmmakers are local residents including Venice resident Josh Tickell, who took his “Veggie Van,” powered by vegetable oil-based biodiesel fuel, on tour across the country. Tickell plans to have the “Veggie Van” on the Santa Monica College campus during the Earth Day Film Festival.

Other film highlights include Treewoman, a documentary about Julia “Butterfly” Hill, who lived in an ancient redwood tree for about two years in an environmental act of civil disobedience. The documentary was directed by Venice filmmaker Ziri Rideaux.

Santa Monica College professor Dana Morgan will open the festival with a screening of her environmental film Wordsworth Country at 6 p.m. Friday, April 22nd. Other film discussions include SUV Taggers with director Judith Vogelsang; and Cost of Cool with producers Geoffrey Holland and Greg Molina. The final film of the festival is The Corporation, which looks at the role of corporations in shaping people’s lives.

Information, (310) 453-4272.

BIRDWATCHING, NATURE AND CONSERVATION— Migration Celebration, a family birdwatching and nature event, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 16th, at the Ballona Wetlands Freshwater Marsh (southwest corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard) near Playa Vista. Participation is free.

The event is organized by a Migration Celebration Committee, made up of conservation groups, including the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Audubon of California, Ballona Wetlands Conservancy and Ballona Wetlands Foundation. Playa Vista Community Services also was involved in organizing the event.

The event will include interactive stations with information on birdwatching, wetlands, water preservation and native plants.

The birdwatching portion of the event focuses on the current spring migration period of exotic birds including the red-tailed hawk, least tern, American coot, yellow-headed blackbird, red-winged blackbird, cinnamon teal, white-faced ibis, great blue heron, black-necked stilt and snowy egret.

About 180 different bird species are estimated to pass through the Ballona Wetlands this springtime, an increase from last year, according to the Migration Celebration Committee.

The Ballona Wetlands Freshwater Marsh is 26 acres in size and made up of several habitat areas, including open water, marsh, riparian and woodlands.

Approximately 3,000 native trees and 10,000 native shrubs and grasses are planted in the Freshwater Marsh, according to Friends of Ballona Wetlands.

About 95 percent of wetlands in California have been lost to development, according to Friends of Ballona Wetlands. Included is the large portion of the Ballona Wetlands southeast of Lincoln Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard, which has been lost to the Playa Vista development.

Information, (310) 745-5200.


PROMENADE — An outdoor “eco-fest” with about 60 environmental exhibits, speakers and live music is planned in celebration of Earth Day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16th, on the Third Street Promenade, between Broadway and Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica. Admission is free.

The event is organized by Earth Day Los Angeles.

Live music and children’s programming will be hosted on a solar-powered stage.

Earth Day Los Angeles director Jim Stewart hopes that the event will encourage families to make lasting habit changes in favor of protecting the environment.

“Kids can help urge parents to buy environmentally friendly products, which reduces pollution and global warming, making a healthier future for all of us,” says Stewart. “Earth Day helps people learn about environmental solutions already in the marketplace and learn effective ways to take action.”

Children’s activities at Earth Day on the Promenade include demonstrations of the Yo Stick and face painting with Star Oakland.

The emcee for the day is Frank Padilla, Jr., who seeks to dazzle kids with magic tricks while teaching them about conservation and science.

“Green Power Girl” Susan Cox seeks to empower people of all ages with her stories of how kids can make a clean energy future for generations ahead.

Rhymin’ Reason musical duo Rich and Tonya Mandl are to entertain with a message of environmental awareness in their music and lyrics. The event will include performances by veteran eco-conscious singer/songwriter Stephen Longfellow Fiske, Suzanne Teng, Mystic Journey, eco-musician Jon Sherman, The Family Rock and Butoh dancer Xylem.

Exhibits include Star Eco-Station’s wild animals, Whale Alliance’s model whale, Heal the Bay and Ballona Wetlands nature exhibits and a display by Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, where kids get to sit in the driver’s seat of a natural gas powered bus.

Corporations that offer environmentally conscious products will also be present with displays of hybrid vehicles, solar energy systems, information on environmentally responsible investment plans, organic gardening, energy-efficient appliances, hemp and organic cotton clothing displays.

Information, (888) 295-8372.