Community Environmental Council’s Earth Day celebration returns to Santa Barbara
On Saturday, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) Earth Day event returned in-person to Santa Barbara for the first time since 2019. The event has been virtual the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is special that we are back in-person, and different because we are at the Arlington Theatre,” Kathi King, director of climate education and leadership for the CEC, told the News-Press.
“The intersection of climate and culture through art is something that we have been exploring … Helping people to connect to climate change through where their heart is,” said Ms. King, who has been with the organization since 2008.
In previous years, the event has been held at Alameda Park since 2009. The celebration was held at the Arlington Theatre rather than Alameda Park this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions that would have been imposed on the event with larger groups of people.
The protocols for events of over 5,000 people would have required the event to be quite different from what it had in previous years, “so we decided to go with a smaller venue,” said Ms. King.
Ms. King talked about some of the most popular events of Earth Day over the years.
“The Green Car Show is very popular and people are always interested in the newest transportation technology,” she said, adding that E-bikes have become very popular and Story Bike was one of the sponsors of the event.
Earth Day has its roots in Santa Barbara, as a 1969 oil spill became the catalytic event which gave rise to what would become a nationally recognized day. The CEC was also born out of the oil spill when a group of UCSB students founded it in 1970, Ms. King told the News-Press.
“Remembering that everyday is Earth Day, but despite the bad news we hear about climate change, there is a day set aside for us to come together and celebrate the progress we have made,” said Ms. King when asked about the importance of Earth Day.
One of the new aspects of this year’s Earth Day activities were indoor activities including a second hand fashion show and environmentally focused film shorts.
Several elected officials turned up at the event to speak with constituents. U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal, Assemblymember Steve Bennett, Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte, Mayor Pro Tem Stuart Kasdin, County of Santa Barbara Supervisors Joan Hartman and Gregg Hart and State Senator Monique Limon all made appearances. Rep. Carbajal also emceed the CEC’s Annual Environmental Hero Awards.
“Earth Day is one of Santa Barbara’s greatest local exports – and every year I look forward to commemorating another Earth Day with the families and individuals who come out to reaffirm our commitment to preserving our natural spaces, protecting our planet and defending against threats to our species and all living things. In Congress, I carry the spirit of Earth Day with me all year round – especially as we see the devastating impacts that the climate crisis and extreme weather events have had on our region and around the world,” Rep. Carbajal told the News-Press in an email. “Since our last Earth Day, we’ve made history in Congress by passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-investing billions of dollars to help California transition to clean energy, meet the challenges of wildfire and drought, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. I’m continuing to work with federal, state, and local partners to bring more clean energy investments to the Central Coast, end offshore oil drilling, preserve both our public lands and coastlines and bring some of the first offshore wind projects to our state. I am so glad to join Santa Barbarans again this year to celebrate the 52nd Earth Day, and am humbled that the Community Environmental Council and other environmental advocacy groups have asked me to help lead the celebration of some of our Central Coast environmental champions.”
The Climate Summit closed out the day. The summit brings climate-focused groups together to mobilize rapid public action on climate change. This year’s summit focused on connecting the youth with opportunities to engage. Almost 30 local groups took the stage to share what they are doing and how the community can get involved.
“Obviously, every day is earth day because we don’t live somewhere else for the rest of the year,” said Ms. King.