Sunday, April 25, 2010

The pot of gold at the end of the rain(bow)...

What's an Earth Day weekend without a little rain? As Suanne -- a dear friend and the person who made our Musicians for Clean Air concerts possible this weekend -- said: "We need rain to live." And she's so right. Without it...well, this weekend without it we'd have had two spectacular weather days at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration instead of one.

Instead, today was the antithesis of yesterday: raw, windy, cold (like 40 degrees cold), and wet...sodden.

And yet, people did come to enjoy the day, indoors. Not nearly as many as yesterday. But still, they were enough. And our farmers, our chefs, our yoga and Tai Chi instructors, our green companies, our kids activities people, our speakers, the Cornell Cooperative Extension's entire staff, our grounds people, office people, our performers -- that is, EVERYONE who played a part in making this Celebration a whole -- smiled at each other, shrugged their shoulders at Mother Nature's weepy sky, and made it a day worth remembering for the visitors who came their way.

And that, my friends, is success. The kind of success that you can't put a number on, but rather, the type of success that you can count on when people act as a community for the good of all involved.

I send my thanks and gratitude to every one of them...every person who was involved...from the Fairgrounds staff who gave up their weekend to work with good cheer and vigor at this new, untried event, to the incredible volunteers who supported not just the event but also me personally, to our green companies' people who stayed with it to the end with good cheer, to our musicians who made such beautiful music whether they played to a "crowd" of a few or to hundreds, to our other performers who entertained our children visitors with real flair and professionalism, to our eco-presenters who made knowledge so easily accessible to all who wanted to learn, to our chefs who made unbelievably delicious food in the Harvest demonstration Kitchen, to our farmers who brought such bounty and good cheer to our event, to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County's staff -- virtually all of whom were with us this weekend running the demo kitchen, maker square, presentation area and so much more with such passion, commitment and professionalism (with a special shout out of thanks to all the 4-H clubs and Green Teens who showed their best to over 3000 people), to our Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga teachers who stretched our muscles and calmed our minds, and to Robert Stone, who so generously gave of his time and his wonderful documentary feature film, "Earth Days."

Thank you. All.

This event would not have been the success that it was without every single one of you!

Tomorrow is for planning anew.

But tonight? You'll pardon me if I sign off to eat a good dinner, take a long hot shower and go to sleep.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A glorious day!

The Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration flew into the Dutchess County Fairgrounds today and came to a nearly perfect landing!

The day was perfect. Cool but not too cold in the morning and warm but not too warm in the afternoon. Gorgeous sun. A light breeze.

From 7:30 a.m. until a minute before we opened the gates to the public, the venue was a hive of companies tweaking their booth setups to make them as attractive as possible to our visitors; farmers hauling everything from live chickens to artisanal cheeses, eggs, herbs, veggies, fruit, wine and more into their market spaces; kids' showpeople polishing their acts; and musicians tuning their axes.

And then the doors opened and the fun began! Families came and stayed for hours. Last time I got into the Maker Square area, it was literally COVERED with kids (I mean like ON THE FLOOR) cutting, sewing, hammering, pasting, making stuff. They were there all afternoon! Pony rides galore. Tons of great music! Rain barrels were made and hoisted onto shoulders and taken back to cars, whose occupants just strolled back in and kept going. Everything was well attended, and virtually everyone said they had a great time (well, there's always ONE or TWO people...but I'm not focusing on that here...)!!

The vendors said they had a great day, our visitors looked tired and happy when they left, the farmers got more business than they expected, the food demos were eaten out of house and home (or the demo kitchen!), the ponies were busy giving kids rides all day, the hayrides were full up every time they clipclopped out of the gate.

For this little event planner, it was awesome (and not a little surreal) to see it all come to life and everyone having a great time.

Tomorrow's day two. And even though the weather forecast isn't great, it shouldn't matter. This event is almost 100% indoors throughout five buildings the size of airplane hangars. There's SO much to do, you won't notice the few drops that splash on you as you run across the way from building to building.

If you had fun on a sunny day, wait until you've got all that space and activity for your kids on a rainy day!

Rain or shine, tomorrow we're doin' it all again, and you'll have an awesome time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

This is it!

OKAY you guys, this is it!

Today over 100 farmers, green companies, environmental non-profits, Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County employees and volunteers made their way to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds to set up their booths, activities, games, food demos, talks, and more.

Advanced Recovery, Inc. began its 3-day e-waste take-back program out in the main parking lot (today was for businesses only; tomorrow and Sunday are for YOU!).

Our incredible ground crew, plus our great decorators, our amazing front and back office staffs, our (unbelievably supportive [of me]) General Manager, Bob Grems and our he-can't-possibly-be-so-many-places-at-once-but-he's-always-right-there-when-you-need-him-to-solve-your-problem Andy Imperati made it all seem seamless.

And tomorrow, before all of you get to the venue, they, and the other folks who are coming and setting up just for you will be on site at the shriek of dawn (well okay, maybe 8 a.m., not so shriek-y, but early on a Saturday after an incredibly full week) putting the finishing touches on our Celebration preparations.

It's going to be a beautiful day, and it's going to be a beautiful Earth Day Celebration. I can tell you that this thing's going to be GREAT fun and a wonderful thing to do on a lovely Saturday. Even on a maybe-not-so-lovely Sunday (if the weather folks are right, and since they so often are SO WRONG, I choose not to focus on it. Hey it's all indoors, this Celebration, anyway).

SO, come one, come all and have a ball. We built this Earth Day Celebratio for y'all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"I'm a real boy!" -- Just added: A marionette show!

This just in: The Korinya Ukranian Folk Band is not just teaching your children how to folk dance, or singing on the main stage on Saturday. They also have put together a beautiful marionette show, called "Baba Liuba, the Worm and the Earth."

And they'll perform with their marionettes at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Your kids will love it. YOU will love it. So, don't miss it!

This new addition to our line up for kids will help ease the sting of the unfortunate last-minute withdrawal of the Newburgh Free Academy's solar cars display. We're sorry that they won't be with us, but we understand. We hope they'll be able to come back next year and wow us with their new technological feats!

Happy Earth Day, Hudson Valley!

Today is the real 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. Looking back across the past four decades, we have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for:

Federal and state environmental laws and regulations that have seen massive cleanups of our waterways, air, drinking water and land; a movement of millions upon millions of people who have dedicated their thinking, actions and lifestyles to living more lightly on the earth; innovators who, without the impetus that came from increased awareness of the fragility of the planet and our need to live more sustainably, might never have dedicated their careers to creating cleaner-fueled cars, better mass transit, new consumer and industrial products and practices that are based on natural and organic ingredients instead of harsh and toxic chemicals. And the list goes one.

But as we honor the planet and those who have worked and are working so hard to slow, then halt humans' effect on our climate, and all that global warming portends, we all know, there is much, much more to do. In our personal lives. In our communities. For the region, the country, the globe. Our children, and their children to come.

Getting to "sustainability" in our lives, and here in the Hudson Valley is a journey. And whether you're already making positive environmental changes in your life, or haven't begun to really think about it, today and this week, and the entire year -- the lifetime we each have left -- is a great time to begin to make change. Some of us will make major alterations in our lifestyles; others will make small ones. No matter how small the steps are, they add up to major impacts in the aggregate.

Really. They do. I was listening recently to NPR and a segment came on about the impact of each person in the US not throwing just one, single-use water bottle into the trash (or on the side of the road). Recycling just that one per day. The amount of plastics saved from landfilling, and water pollution, animal deaths from ingesting parts or all of the bottles that would be prevented is absolutely staggering. It's in the millions and millions of tons.

And that's only one example of a small change we each can make. Turning down our thermostats a couple of degrees to save energy. Buying the food you like from local sources, whether it's organic, natural or simply grown nearby. Buying and using cleaning products that are environmentally preferable -- that is, based on less toxic ingredients -- and so improving your indoor air quality. Simple, effective, easy, AND it makes a difference.

If you don't know where to start, I humbly suggest that you come and spend part of the weekend with us at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25. It's only two days away, and it will be a GREAT place to learn about the simple ways that you can make your home, your community and our region (and yes, the planet!) a better, safer (environmentally speaking) place to live. AND you'll have a blast! We have SO many things to do, learn, see, listen to that you can't do it all in one day (not kidding).

Start by doing a REALLY feel-good (and responsible) thing, and turn in your old electronics at our Recyclrama in the Fairgrounds main parking lot. Bring your old computers, TVs, stereos, cell phones, wiring, and so on (read the older blog post on this blog, titled "Turn. It. In." for more information...) for $10 a CARLOAD. Advanced Recovery, Inc., our electronics recycling partner will give you a "Get Into The Earth Day Celebration Free" coupon for your effort. (and on Sunday, you can come back and get all your old personal documents shredded, securely by Hudson Baylor -- three, 10-reams-of-paper-sized boxes worth of your old checks, legal papers, love letters, embarrassing journals you wrote in your teens...for FREE!) Park and come in and spend the rest of the day...
  • Listening to Musicians for Clean Air concerts
  • Attending eco-presentations about everything from growing chickens in your backyard to composting to solar energy to fish advisories to true food diets
  • Buying local produce and goods at our Farmers Market
  • Watching (and tasting) organic/vegan/vegetarian food demos with some of the most talented chefs in the Hudson Valley
  • Taking a tai chi, Qigong or yoga class
  • Becoming a Maker and building/sewing/gluing new things out of other people's old ones
  • Visiting with some of the greenest companies in the Hudson Valley in our Green Exhibition Building (Bldg C)
  • Taking your kids (did I mention that this is a CHILD- and FAMILY-FRIENDLY event? It sure is!) to Kids' World, where they'll have over 20 activities to do and really cool stuff to see, including: Doc Swan's Environmental Magic Show; Big Green TV; environmental globe making; book readings and signings by children's authors (Saturday only); coloring contest; GPS Earthcaching treasure hunting; Solar cars; a bigger-than-they-are model green home buildout; recycling activities; pony rides; the two by two endangered animals petting zoo; fun with termites.
And, when you've utterly worn yourselves out, we have the most awesome feature film for you to see! "Earth Days," the nationally-acclaimed film by Robert Stone -- who lives right here in Dutchess County! -- will be playing at 3 p.m. each day. Introduced in person by... ROBERT STONE HIMSELF, and he'll answer your questions in person at the end of the movie. Last weekend, Robert was in Washington DC, on the mall, speaking while the organizers of that huge event showed parts of his movie. Well, you may not have been there, but THIS weekend, there is no place else on the entire planet where you can see the movie in its entirety AND talk to this incredibly talented (and delightful, if I may say from personal acquaintance with him) producer/director except HERE. At the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.

What a way to end an Earth Day Celebration!

Want a full schedule? It's just a few blog posts back (see, "Mastering the Schedule" below).

Happy Earth Day everybody!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bikeway the Right Way

This just in: Bikeway, a great Hudson Valley bike store company is coming to the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration! They'll be stationed in Building B -- which is Kids' World, where all things kid will happen.

I'm psyched! After all, pedal power is people powered. No fossil fuels expended. Good for the environment. Great for your health. And SO much fun...IF you do it right.

Which is one of the main reasons Bikeway has agreed to come join us. Not only will they be there showing their (very cool) bicycles and gear, they will also be teaching kids and their parents the right way to do important aspects of bicycle maintenance, such as changing tires, fitting and useing safety gear, fixing popped chains, and so on. These skills, learned early and properly, will last your children all of their lives, keep them safer on the road, and make biking more fun and independent for them.

So, come have fun with your tikes with the bikes! Bikeway's ready. Are you?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Already, an Addendum to the Agendum!

Like I said, the Master Schedule is subject to change...and the huge post about the schedule won't let me add anything new. SO, I'm doing it here. Now. And with apologies to our wonderful Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga instructors!! Namaste.


At NOON and 2:00 PM: Tai Chi & Qigong class taught by David Haines, in Building E.

on SUNDAY, APRIL 25th:

At 10:00 AM: Vinyasa Yoga class, taught by Ron Hayes, in Building E. Wear loose-fitting clothes and bring a yoga mat

At NOON and 2:00 PM: Tai Chi & Qigong class taught by David Haines, in Building E.