Longmont Group Uses Earth Day Event to Plant Seeds of Environmental Awareness
Editor’s note: The headline on an earlier version of this story mischaracterized the Longmont Museum’s involvement in hosting an Earth Day celebration Saturday. The museum was the rented venue for the event hosted by Sustainable Resilient Longmont. The headline has been corrected.
J.D. Williams, 4, was working on some recycled arts and crafts Saturday morning with his mother, Allison, in the Longmont Museum’s education center.
They were there for an educationally-focused, youth-centric early Earth Day celebration courtesy of Sustainable Resilient Longmont — an environmental nonprofit based in the town.
“We came to this Earth Day celebration last year and really enjoyed it,” Allison Williams said. “It’s always a good opportunity to teach our children about helping keep our planet healthy.”
This was one of three Earth Day events the group had planned for this year. On Thursday night, an adult-oriented panel explored the connections between local sustainability efforts and global climate change.
Between 6 and 9 p.m. Monday, the organization will be holding a Pints for the Planet fundraiser at 300 Suns Brewing on 1st Avenue near South Main Street.
“This Earth Day event is a primary focus for us because education is really important,” said Pam Leland, a volunteer working the event.
The organization hopes to increase environmental awareness among Longmont’s youngest residents.
Saturday’s event featured family yoga, storytelling and an afternoon performance courtesy of Jeff & Paige — a duo who teaches kids about science and the environment through song.
Amy Heneghan said she aimed to teach “kids about the environment and using found objects to make art out of things that other people might discard,” through her time volunteering in the art room.
“We did this last year, and the creativity that happened in this room was incredible,” she said.
“When I was in fifth grade, I was in a play, and my teacher made us use different things, all recycled materials, for the props, the costumes and everything else,” Heneghan said. “That’s kind of stuck with me, that these things can be repurposed.”
“We can see the possibilities,” Eliza Swain, who was also volunteering in the art room, said of many in Longmont’s artistic community. “Where other people might see trash, we see treasure.”
Her goals for the day included, “having fun with recycled materials,” and “showing kids that trash can actually be reused.”
Educating youngsters was the primary focus of the event, but discussion of adult-led environmental action was never far below the surface.
“I think the parents who come want their children to know about the environment, so they’re already kind of on board,” said Karen Dike, who’s on the group’s board and is a long-time Sierra Club member.
Still, Dike said, this event was an important way to connect environmentally-conscious parents with sustainability-focused organizations in the community. The museum’s auditorium — a large, sunny room — featured booths from Boulder County Parks and Open Space, the Colorado Renewable Energy Society and the city of Longmont.
“People here in Longmont don’t want fracking,” said Dike, who got involved with the group in fighting that industry. In 2012, the town voted for a local ban on fracking which was ultimately struck down by the state Supreme Court.
“I think it’s probably even more against fracking now,” Dike said of the city. “Our air pollution is worse and people are more educated.
“There’s actually a resolution at the city to be 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030,” Dike said, due in part to the groups’s campaigning efforts.
She was extremely confident in Longmont’s ability to reach that goal. She expects the town to be at least half renewably powered by 2021. So in her mind, making it the rest of the way should be easy.
Not that any of that registered with the event’s callow target demographic.
“His understanding is pretty simple at this age,” Allison Williams said of her son.
“I think he probably liked story time the best. He was very focused on story time.”