South Florida Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day
“We’ve consistently had 5,000 people come through but there is a lot more talk about the event and we have done a lot more about it in electronic media this year so we could have twice that many,” said Mario M. Yanez, founder and director of Earth Learning, the primary sponsoring organization. “Hopefully it doesn’t get so large that it loses its personal feel.”
That personal feel is key to Earth Fest, which is itself more than an annual event that this year also recognizes the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
“We don’t consider it just an event,” Yanez said. “We want to make it very different. We’re modeling sustainability throughout the event and from the music to the food to the workshops and vendors, everything says something about higher consciousness.”
Earth Fest was launched in 2007 just four years after the founding of Earth Learning.
Earth Learning was established to “create a space for discussion of sustainability issues,” Yanez said.
“There was some environmental education out there but nothing that addressed deeply the core issues,” Yanez said. The organization was aimed at addressing the deep issues of consciousness in relation to more pragmatic initiatives related to sustainability and other “Green” movements. Earth Learning evolved to a focus on local food sources, growing and sustainability.
“It’s something that is near and dear to my heart because I have been organically farming since 1996,” Yanez said.
“It’s a very laid back day. People can hang out, bring blankets, listen to music, network with community groups – and just have a good time with a good feeling.” — Mario M. Yanez, founder and director of Earth Learning
Earth Learning’s official mission statement is: To sustain a learning community dedicated to widening the circle of discourse toward an all-inclusive community of life in our bioregion through: Growing sustainable practices, livelihoods, and lifestyles; evolving sustainable learning initiatives; and facilitating social entrepreneurs and ventures.
In conjunction with partners and with Miami-Dade County Parks, the main themes of Earth Learning will be well incorporated into Earth Fest. Workshops related to organic gardening, mind, body and soul (meditation, yoga, etc), food and earth and nature are scheduled throughout the event
“There are some workshops that are very practical and some others that are very consciousness oriented,” Yanez said.
Performances presented by Expand the Love are diverse as well, with performances by The Heavy Pets, Soulflower and many others. In terms of sound and lyrics, performances too offer a subtle contribution to the consistent message of the day’s activities.
World Café will feature dialogs on local movements related to alternative energy, local foods, sustainable community design and transition initiatives.
Numerous community groups and vendors will also be on hand.
“All foods are vegetarian/vegan to make the statement that you can go out for the day, have a great time, and have good food without eating flesh,” Yanez said. “We have great food vendors who for the most part, but locally and organically.”
Earth Fest will also include a Healing Arts tent and Yanez said that there would be nature hikes in the scenic park
The occasion will also feature the first open planning stage of a proposed Community Food Summit to be initiated in July. According to its organizers, the outcome of the Summit “will be a cooperatively-developed Local Foods Action Plan for strengthening and expanding the local food system within the framework of a regional foodshed. The Action Plan will serve as vehicle for forming alliances, joint venture businesses, and fund-raising strategies to enhance the production, processing, storage, distribution, marketing, and consumption of foods sustainably grown in the Greater Everglades region. A major focus of the Summits and resulting Action Plan will be to develop proven systems for providing fresh, healthy, affordable local foods to all residents, especially those most in need.”
Yanez said that additional planning meetings would be held after Earth Fest prior to the July summit.
Despite the focused concentration on core issues of sustainability, Yanez said that Earth Fest is intended to be a good time with people able to “take their masks off and be themselves.”
“It’s a very laid back day,” he said. “People can hang out, bring blankets, listen to music, network with community groups – and just have a good time with a good feeling.”
Miami’s Marc Dietrich said he intends to attend Earth Fest for the first time this year.
“A friend told me about it and I love anything to do with locally grown food products so I’m really interested in that,” Dietrich said. “I’m not interested in the whole earth deification, global warming, collectivist thing but its important and healthy to support local grown food products.”
Joanna Palmer has attended Earth Fest before and said she enjoys it.
“It’s like going into a different world for a little while and it’s a lot of fun with really nice people,” Palmer said. “I’ve learned some stuff in the past, but mostly I’ve been kind of inspired to adapt some things in my own real life.”
Earth Fest takes places from noon to Sundown on Sunday, April 18 at Crandon Park, North Beach entrance at 6767 Crandon Boulevard on Key Biscayne. Admission is free; park parking is $6. There is free bike valet service by Green Mobility Network. Visitors are encouraged to bring concert blanket/portable chair, re-usable water bottles, drum/instrument for drum circle and electronics and computer equipment to recycle. Animal companions are not permitted.
For more information visit www.earth-learning.org