This year, Earth Day will celebrate its Golden Anniversary as we recognize its 50th year worldwide. The annual April event first began in 1970 and now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Since its inception, Earth Day celebrations have coincided with many landmark environmental agreements between nations. On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. This year however, marks the first time communities across the globe will come together to celebrate Earth Day while staying safely apart. Still, current social distancing guidelines haven’t stopped community leaders in our area from recognizing the importance of protecting the environment and in the Village of Millerton, NY, the championing for Earth Day’s cause persists.
On Saturday, April 25 Millerton will hold its own Earth Day celebration as a community, and from a distance thanks to organizers Kathy Chow and Jennifer Dowley. Chow, the town of North East and the village of Millerton’s Climate Smart Task Force Coordinator and Dowley, former President of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, have put together a page on the Millerton Business Alliance’s website dedicated celebrating Earth Day on behalf of village businesses. In 2018, the Town of North East and the Village of Millerton jointly signed a pledge to work with hundreds of other Climate Smart municipalities around New York State that have committed to develop community-wide climate mitigation strategies and improve the sustainability of our communities. A Climate Smart Task Force was appointed and has since initiated projects that attempt to build environmental and economic resiliency. Members include Chris Kennan, Town of North East Supervisor, Matthew Hartzog, Village of Millerton Trustee, Kathy Chow, Task Force Coordinator, Jennifer Dowley, Tom Parrett, Eliot Ramos, Andrew Stayman.
“The Climate Smart Community initiative holds such promise for our community. There are multiple grants available to help us find ways to avoid the flooding of our roads, decrease our energy expenses, increase economic opportunities and preserve the environment that we all hold dear,” says Millerton Mayor Debbie Middlebrook and North East Town Supervisor Chris Kennan via the site. “We’re delighted that our Climate Smart Task Force is launching Millerton’s Earth Day to start off the public phase of this work.”
As part of the village-wide celebration, brightly colored spring daffodils, courtesy of Millerton’s Country Gardeners Florist and participating businesses will be placed along the frontages of village businesses as a symbol of hope amid crisis. There will also be a Birch Tree Giveaway, where free Native Paper and River Birch Bare-root seedlings will be given away for immediate planting. Anyone looking to obtain seedlings will be able to pick them up on Saturday, between 10am – 2pm curbside at Country Gardeners Florist located at 5 Railroad Plaza. Additionally, merchants are offering for sale sustainably produced 100% cotton shopping bags made in the USA and completely plastic-free, double walled insulated water bottles. Finally, the beloved Millerton Farmers Market will hold it’s Earth Day get-together on Saturday from 10am – 2pm on Main Street and Dutchess Avenue while ensuring social distancing by asking customers to visit each vendor one at a time.
“The current public health crisis is temporary…not short enough and very damaging but it will not last forever and we will be reborn.” Dowely and Chow say. “The earth is also in crisis…more systemic and dangerous but still something we can all help resolve. Earth Day reminds us to think about change during this pause in our lives and to reset. As our Governor recently stated, let’s re-open and do better than we had done prior to the shut down. Plant trees, plant a garden, think of shrubs and trees that support insects, bees and birds. Consider an electric vehicle as your next car…so much less polluting. Spend time thinking about this precious environment we live in and how fragile it is. We must fight to keep it. We know at heart that Millerton is strong, creative and resilient!”
For more information and updates on Millerton and North East’s Earth Day initiative visit millertonnewyork.com/earth-day
Please visit a website recently built to provide resources for our community: millertontogether.org