April 22 is International Earth Day. It all started in 1970 in the US as the first major public effort in the modern environmental movement. That first Earth Day brought focus to a growing concern about our environment inspired in part by the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring several years earlier and the increasing volume of citizen concerns about oil spills, toxic dumps, the use of pesticides, the loss of wilderness and wildlife, and the sense brought back by our lunar astronauts that we lived on a beautiful blue marble all alone in the unfathomable vastness of space.
This emerging environmental consciousness not only brought the issue to the public’s attention but also exploded into the political arena. 1970 culminated with the forming of the US Environmental Protection Agency with a mission to protect human health and the environment. In the following years the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act – among others – were signed into law. Wow – what a difference a day makes! That oversimplifies things, of course. The progress protecting human health and that of the environment has been hard fought, slow, and cumulatively upward.
Climate Smart communities
So here we are, 51 years later and hundreds of millions around the world will be celebrating Earth Day. In Millerton, NY, Earth Day is sponsored by the North East/Millerton Climate Smart Task Force. What’s that, you say? Interestingly, New York State is a leader in the national effort to reduce greenhouse gases and help communities adapt to climate change. The Village of Millerton and the Town of North East are among several hundred municipalities around the state that have signed up to be Climate Smart Communities. They’ve appointed a Task Force whose members volunteer to help us become more resilient in the face of volatile weather events, find ways to save energy, and protect our natural environment. We’ve already received several grants from the State to help
in this work and as time passes, we’ll receive many more.
Restore Our Earth
Earth Days are a teaching moment, with a theme. This year the theme is “Restore Our Earth.” It’s a moment to pause and appreciate all the natural resources in our amazing community. There are a number of virtual events spread over a few days. Saturday, April 24 is the day to visit the Village for safe in-person events. Our merchants will hang out flags and bedeck their stores with flowers. Close enough to first day of Spring, it marks (we hope!) a safe turning point into the warmer seasons. The easiest way to find out what’s happening is to go to the new ClimateSmartMillerton.org website. You’ll find everything there including a schedule and a map. Millerton merchants and the Town/Village Library will have flyers with all the details.
Highlights for April 24
Did you know that we are home to a significant regional composting operation – McEnroe’s on Coleman Station Road? It mixes plant-based food waste (think apple cores, olive pits, banana peels) with leaves, animal manure, and cow bedding that over time make a nutrient-rich addition for our gardens. McEnroe’s will open the gates for us to get up close to the fascinating biological process that makes organic plant fertilizer. To see what farmers grow and how they grow it, several local farms have agreed to welcome families for a visit. Some of them are regular vendors at our intrepid Millerton Farmers Market. The Farmers Market will be celebrating Earth Day by moving outdoors (Mother Nature permitting) to launch the beginning of the fresh-air season. North East Ford, the dealership just east of the Village, will host a pop-up glimpse of our future: a 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV, Ford’s first fully electric vehicle. You can sit in it on the 24 and imagine rolling down the highway as environmentally pretty as you please. But if you want a test drive, you will have to arrange a later date. You’ll find the car on Century Boulevard right where the Village will soon be installing its first Electric Vehicle Charging Station – thanks to a grant from New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
For the youth, from toddlers to young readers, Oblong Books & Music will provide good reads in the Jr. section downstairs. Adults go upstairs, on the main floor, and look for the Read Green section. Then walk up the street to Millerton Wine & Spirits for a taste of organic wine – just adults, please. Pitch in and help restore our earth yourself. Pick up a packet of seeds of native plants at the Library, then walk down Main Street and take a workshop in home composting at The Dig. You’ll be all set to plant them a few weeks later, after the last frost in May. Or you can actually sponsor the planting of a new tree. Join the campaign to plant 100 trees at Eddie Collins Memorial Park. Stop in at any shop in Millerton and make a contribution. Our beloved but somewhat decrepit Park is being revitalized from top to bottom. Construction begins later this spring and will include planting dozens and dozens of shade trees and flowering trees – all native, adaptable to climate change, and good hosts to birds and insects. Oblong Books & Music is donating 10% of its sales that weekend to the purchase of a tree. $600 buys a good sized tree, plants it, and provides maintenance
for a year!
Feel like a little yard work? Our North East Community Center’s Teen Team and students from Webutuck are leading a spring cleaning effort to pick up trash on the Rail Trail and prepare the Community Garden for planting. Feel free to join them. How about starting the day refreshed and truly awake? Moonwake Yoga and Healing Studio is offering an earth focused yoga class.
For those comfortable with Zoom, the Library is offering a number of wonderful talks and readings. Some are on the official Earth Day itself, April 22, and not to be missed.
Let’s give a round of applause for Mother Earth. We’ll see you virtually or in Millerton on April 24, no matter the weather!
Use this QR Code to visit Climate Smart’s Earth Day Site
Or Check out events, details, and times at climatesmartmillerton.org
By Jennifer Dowley
Jennifer Dowley is a North East/Millerton Climate Smart Task Force member. Climatesmartmillerton.org will give you details about Earth Day and other Climate Smart projects.