Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The ants (well, termites...) go marching two by two...

As long as it doesn't sting, if it creeps, slithers, hops, flies or otherwise does something cool (or yucky), kids love bugs. And bunnies. And ponies. And goats and sheep and...well, animals in general, and baby animals in particular.

At the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration, you and your children will be able to see, and touch (and in the case of the ponies, ride -- oh, not you big adult people, but your kids can...) and learn all about a whole lot of animals. Come and check out Fun With Termites -- did you know that they follow certain scent paths? -- and learn how they help the environment.

Visit the 2x2 Zoo to see, touch and find out about some of the animals that are on the endangered species list. Take a ride on a pony that has been rescued from abuse or neglect.

You and your kids can come see other kids (goat babies, that is) that have been raised by young people from Dutchess County 4-H clubs. They will show and teach about goats, llamas, horses and poultry and tell you how your children (and your family) can become involved in the many different 4-H clubs and activities.

And snakes. Did I mention snakes? See them, watch them perform -- oh yes, it's not only the humans who get to strut (or in snakes' case, slither) their stuff. Snakes are a natural form of rodent and pest control, and serve other really important environmental functions.

Then, go on a hayride around the Fairgrounds, courtesy of 4-H Gentle Giants. Rest, relax and enjoy the ride! Then slide on back for MORE animal fun, and all the other cool stuff we'll have going for our youngest environmentalists -- like Big Green TV, Ukranian folk dancing (not to watch, but to LEARN and do!), African drumming, more dancing, Doc Swan's recycling with magic and juggling show, Dutchess County BOCES' recycling activities, GPS Geocaching treasure hunts, the Makers' Square, and more...

Check back to find out the details over the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Turn. Them. In!

Ever wonder what happens to an old computer or a cell phone when you throw it in the trash and it ends up in a landfill? "Ah," you say. "I know better than to do that!"

GOOD! But not everyone does know better. They don't know that by tossing their cell phone, or beeper, or computer (or the countless other electronics we take for granted--scanners, printers, DVD players, TVs, etc.), they're throwing away recoverable precious metals, plastic housings, screws and wire -- all reusable if recovered -- and, toxic chemicals. We're talking lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, zinc, bromine, chlorine, phthalates, and others, that can pollute our soil, groundwater and underground aquifers, and if released into the atmosphere pollute the air we breathe. These are really bad actors -- the kind of chemicals known to cause or suspected of causing cancer, disrupting the endocrine system, and more.

Take mercury, for example. There is no known "safe" threshold of mercury that can be released to the environment. Really. And once it's out there, it persists, works its way up the food chain back to us, and stays in us once we ingest it (those fish advisories you hear about? For mercury--and lots of other chemicals. Google it. You'll see.)

"Oh," you say. "But everybody recycles their e-waste these days." Sigh. We wish.

According to the Electronics Take Back Coalition (www.http://www.computertakeback.com/Tools/Facts_and_Figures.pdf), whose information was just updated on March 8, 2010, e-waste is still the fasting growing waste stream in the US. Their updated report says that "only 13.6% of the consumer electronic products generated into the municipal waste stream (meaning, that people tossed out) were “recovered” for recycling in 2007." That is, we (as in We, the People of the United States) created 3.01 MILLION tons of e-waste, and recycled only 410,000 tons of it.

"Well, how can I recycle my old cell phones and computers?" There are a number of ways, actually. More and more electronics manufacturers will take back your old cell phones and computers. You may have to pack them up, you may have to pay to send them...that depends on the manufacturer. You can turn them in (and your old rechargeable batteries, too) at places like Home Depot. You can donate them to charity [but do your homework...find out what happens to the units that don't work or can't be used. Do they get recycled in a state and federally approved facility? Do they get shipped overseas where they can be improperly disposed of?]

OR...on April 24th and 25th, during the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration, you can bring them with you to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, and for $10 per CARLOAD, you can have them recycled by Advanced Recovery, Inc., a NYS and Federally certified electronics recycler, with facilities in Port Jervis and Newark. They are approved by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, and we've worked with them in the past. In fact, in 2009, we collected over 70 TONS of e-waste in just two weekends at the Fairgrounds (Yes, I am very proud of that fact!).

So, if you're coming to the Earth Day Celebration, or you just want to responsibly get rid of your e-waste (we urge you then to stay at the Fairgrounds and come on in to enjoy the Earth Day Celebration!), load up your car, minivan or 4x4 with as much e-waste as you can cram into it, and roll in the front gates of the Fairgrounds. Follow the signs (or look to your left for the big pile of computers and TVs being moved onto pallets) and pull out a ten spot, hand it over and pop your locks. You don't even have to get out of your vehicle: The professional recovery team from Advanced Recovery will remove all the units for you. Then you can drive on over and park your car and come to the Celebration (or--sad face!--you can just go home...).

What can you bring to turn in? Cell phones. Computers. Computer cables, peripherals, printers, scanners, fax machines, TVs, DVD and tape players, stereos -- basically, any old electronic devices. You may NOT turn in appliances that work with electricity, such as stoves and refrigerators (or anything with refrigerants in it, such as air conditioners). If you have any questions about what you can and cannot turn in, call Advanced Recovery, at 845.858-8809, and they'll answer any question you might have.

Oh! Did I mention that April 23rd, the day before the Celebration, is for small- and medium-sized businesses to turn their e-waste in? Businesses must pre-register (state requirement, people...). Dial 845.858-8809 and they'll set you up.

What better weekend to do the right thing with your old electronics? Earth Day Celebration Weekend!! Only at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. You'll feel great for doing it, and your drawers, basement, attic and garage will breathe a sigh of relief! And so will I.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Agricultural diversity for $200, Alex...

On Monday morning, I woke up at the shriek of dawn, did all the things a person does to get ready for the day, hopped into my car and zipped on down to the CCEDC (that's short for Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County) in Millbrook for the 14th Annual National Agriculture Day Breakfast. I had never been to this amazing event before, which is co-sponsored by the CCEDC, the Dutchess County Dairy Committee Inc., Dutchess County Soil & Water Conservation District, Dutchess-Putnam-Westchester Bureau, and Dutchess County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Bureau.

Now, I bet most of you reading this had no idea that there are so many ag/farm/dairy groups in the Hudson Valley (there are more, actually, but these are mostly the ones on the East side of the Hudson..).

I also bet you don't know that less then 2% of the our population lives or works on farms. That's what makes it so important, as the earth's population grows, for our children and us as consumers to learn about agriculture.

Well, you do now. And those in the room -- farmers, County legislators, CCEDC personnel, CCEDC volunteers and lots of other folk who play a significant role in the local agricultural community -- knew all too well that the health of our farms, our food supply and indeed, the planet depends on that knowledge.

There were speeches, awards (Model tractors, really!), lots of clapping and giving people their well-deserved due (this was, after all, an annual meeting). And there was the most awesome breakfast spread, from eggs to bacon to sausage and home fries, french toast and maple syrup...delicious, gotta say!

And then, Sandra Prokop,the Managing Director of the New York Farm Bureau Foundation for Agricultural Education, Inc. (we love short titles in our business -- er, like Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration...) got up and gave a great talk about education and agriculture, and how important it is for students to learn about and connect with the land--with farming, which is where our food comes from.

She mentioned that one of the most effective tools the Foundation has found to engage children in learning about farming and agriculture is a Jeopardy (You know...Jeopardy the game show on TV...? With Alex Trebec? "The question is...") game, where all the categories have to do with -- you guessed it, agriculture and farming. This game (kids can't get enough of it, says Prokop...)is now on a computer, built into a special kiosk, that venues like the Dutchess County Fairgrounds can borrow for their events. As soon as she told the audience, I was already mentally raising my hand, yelling in my mind, "Pick me! Pick me!"

After the breakfast was over and the room was emptying, I made a bee line for Ms. Prokop -- who is herself a farmer, btw -- and told her about the Earth Day Celebration, and how we want to inspire kids to learn and care about the planet, and farming and all things related to sustainable stewardship of the earth. She said she had to check the availability of the unit (it's a celebrity among fairs and conferences and has a very busy schedule...) and would get back to me in a couple of days. I tapped my foot, waiting and hoping to get good news, and....(drum roll, please)...Yesss!!! The agricultural Jeopardy game kiosk will be at...you guessed it...the HV40thEarthDayCelebration.

I don't know about you, but I'm psyched! Your children are going to love this thing. The kiosk has a computer with a touch screen, and lots of great facts for kids (and adults) to learn. It's interactive, it's fun, and the only place it will be in New York State on Earth Week weekend is at our event.

So, get your buzzer finger ready. And remember, the answer has to be in the form of a question. Here's mine: Can you have TOO MUCH FUN at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration, Alex? No, Virginia, you cannot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A celebration within The Celebration!

Okay, here's one I bet most of you don't know: April 24th isn't just the date of the first day of The Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration (and the rest of your life...); it's also World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. And we're going to celebrate this day at our Earth Day(s) Celebration with sample classes in both, for anyone of any age to try.

But before I tell you more about when, etc. and who's teaching these classes......For those of you who may not know about these two gorgeous and rewarding arts...(depending on whose definition you choose) Tai Chi (also spelled T'ai Chi, and pronounced "Tie Chee") is variously described as a martial art, a "soft" martial art, a Chinese form of exercise, and a way to both meditate and exercise.

The definition I like the most for this beautiful, flowing, slow discipline is "a spiritual and physical discipline, developed in China over millennia to bring balance to the body and flowing peace to the mind" (thank you, www.tantricjoy.com...). Tai Chi facilitates the flow of your body's life force, and promotes good health and vitality. Qigong (pronounced "chee-GONG") is a Taoist discipline -- again, going back thousands of years -- that teaches you how to use breath and posture to gather energy from the universe.

Who will teach you? Well, it won't be me! (I'm hoping to have the time to take the classes in between running around the Fairgrounds making sure that y'all are having a great time!)

David Haines -- who graciously has offered to show you and guide you through an introductory session -- teaches both Qigong and Tai Chi (and something he calls The 20-Minute Body/Mind Routine-TaiChi & Qigong for Busy People) all over the Eastern part of the US, but principally in the Hudson Valley, including at Bard College at Simon's Rock, and community education facilities in Taconic Hills, Red Hook, at Columbia-Greene Community College and at the Omega Institute.

Our World Tai Chi and Qigong intro classes will be offered at noon and at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday (4/24-25). Wear comfy clothing. And no, you won't have to lie down on the hard floor...you'll be standing and moving, and loving it!

Oh but wait! That's not the only great-for-your-body-and-your-mind classes we're offering up during the Earth Day Celebration. Did I hear you think, "Gee I hope they have yoga, too..."? Well as a matter of fact...

Vinyasa yoga instructor, Ron Hayes, RYT, is going to be with us on Sunday, April 25th, giving a 1.5-hour class for you to take. Vinyasa links movement with breath, and even those who don't practice yoga, are not physically strong or particularly flexible can take the class. That is, this isn't one of those classes where the instructor forces you into painful positions or urges you to push yourself beyond where you feel you can't go. The key here will be for those of you who get competitive when other people are doing more than you can do, is to NOT compete.

There are two prerequisites for this class (just so you know...). You need to bring a yoga mat with you (this is, after all, the Fairgrounds, not a yoga studio and our floors are concrete). And, you will have to sign a waiver form, holding both Ron and the Fairgrounds harmless if you push yourself too far and get hurt. The waiver goes for Tai Chi and Qigong, too, btw...

I know, it's only one yoga class. SO FAR. Check back here for more classes, with different instructors -- we're working on it...working on it...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Read along with me....

A long time ago, in a far away land (well, Connecticut, but hey...that can seem like another country...), a lovely queen (Okay, so it was my mother. She was queenly to me!) took a small princess (Uh huh. Me.) to a magical place (the local book store) to hear the fabled words of a great wizard (an author), who intoned wonderful poems and phrases of wisdom about....puppies!

The Queen mum bought a copy of the magical book, where it was signed by the Great Author, who also read her book to me and a number of other young royals (children) who were there for just that purpose. And she had written, "To Laurie, I hope you never stop loving words and rhymes." Even though there were lots of other princesses and dukes (kids) there, she made me feel like I was the only little girl who had received this incredible gift. It's a memory that has lasted me a lifetime.

You can make your own son or daughter a treasured literary memory, too, at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration. Our children's eco-authors, Alison Formento and Emily Goodman will be with us in the Children's Book Corner, to do readings from their new books -- This Tree Counts, Ms. Formento's book; and Plant Secrets, Ms. Goodman's book -- and do book signings.

Not only will your young ones be royally entertained (sorry, couldn't resist the pun...), but they also will learn incredibly cool things about why trees and plants and seeds and all things vegetable/woody are so important to the health of our planet and our lives.

Check back here in the next few weeks for the schedule of readings. In the meantime, use the mystical tapping of your computer keys to take you to the cyberland of Amazon.com to learn more about these books and their wonderful authors. But, please think local and patronize your town book store if you're going to buy...or, you can wait until the Earth Day Celebration and purchase them from the authors themselves. They're bringing plenty of copies!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Recycling during and at the Event: We'll recycle ours; you recycle yours!

I've already told you that The Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration is going to be a Zero Landfill event. Recycling is a big part of making sure that happens. The Fairgrounds routinely recycles its single-use bottles and cans (look for the Cleartainer bins all over the venue...). We also recycle cardboard, office papers, metal, and cooking oil, as well as burned-out fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps.

And, at the Earth Day Celebration, we'll also be piloting the recycling of food waste.

But what about you? Yes, you! What are YOU going to recycle at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration? Well, let me tell you what you can recycle (besides bottles and cans you might bring or buy during your day[s] with us...you could come to both days, you know...)

For starters, you can bring all your electronic devices that you no longer use, and recycle them with Advanced Recovery, Inc. right out there in our main parking lot! Yup. For $10 per CARLOAD, you can get rid of it. Safely. Securely. Cheaply. And don't be shy about bringing everything you could possibly stuff into your car or minivan or 4x4. You should see what folks brought in last year when we held our two e-waste turn-in days!

Take the Earth Day Celebration Challenge: Can you help us beat last year's haul? In 2009, we collected over 70 TONS of e-waste in just two weekends. Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses of electronics from your basement or garage.

Computers, monitors, keyboards, wiring, mice (mouses?), cell phones, stereos, radios, DVD and tape players, printers, scanners. You name it: If it's electronic (NOT electric, as in, NO you may not bring us your old stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, air conditioners, etc.), Advanced Recovery will take it. You won't even need to get out of your car. Just follow the signs, roll on up, hand over your ten-spot, and AR's crew of professionals will relieve you of your equipment, 99%+ of which will be refurbished and recycled at the company's NYS- and EPA-approved facilities in Port Jervis or in Newark, NJ. None of the material recycled/reclaimed is shipped out of country.

That's the electronics part of recyclorama extravaganza. You know all those old boxes of checks, business documents, term papers, personal mail that have piled up at home? Bring in up to three boxes (the size of book storage boxes...) full of those documents, and Hudson Baylor Corporation (one of our major Earth Day Celebration sponsors, btw...) will shred them in one of its secure data shredding trucks. Nobody will ever be able to see what you wrote in those old journals, love letters, checkbooks, etc. again. Oh. They'll do that for free (just so you know).

We haven't battened it all down just yet, but we're also hoping to provide you with the opportunity to turn in compact fluorescents and your old medications.

Did you know that flushing pills or liquid meds down the drain or putting them into your trash for landfilling is absolutely terrible for the environment? Google "pharmaceuticals in the environment" and you'll come up with 7,760,000 hits that will show you how there are now meds in our water supplies, lakes and streams, and what they may be doing to wildlife, you and me.

I'll let you know in a future post about whether we'll be able to offer you the option of bringing in those bulbs and meds and mercury-containing devices (such as old thermometers, thermostats etc...).

Oh. and once you've unloaded your car of all that old stuff -- er, please, not your kids ;-) , we cordially invite you to drive over to the parking area, and mosey on up to the rest of our Celebration. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Field trip!!

When you were a kid (and if you ARE a kid, you'll know exactly what I mean when I ask), didn't you just LOVE field trips? Going to a new place, checking out cool stuff, singing and talking on the bus?

Well, I sure did. And that's part of why I'm so psyched about Wednesday. That's the day that a colleague of mine from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County (CCEDC) and I are headed off to Wingdale to go to Westchester Modular Homes.

Why are we going there, you ask? Well, if there is one, there are 1,000 things we have to put in place in order to make sure that an event as big as the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration is all stocked up and ready for you when you show up on April 24th and 25th. A lot -- as in A LOT-- of tiny (and some not so tiny) details must be attended to.

For instance, for our Makers Square and Swappapalooza, we have to locate vast quantities of textiles, building materials, glue guns, glitter and so forth, and then find a way to procure them.

WHY are you telling us this, and how do we get all those things, you ask? We ask--that is, we solicit sponsors to donate stuff. When we're lucky -- and we're oh so lucky now -- generous companies and organizations give us the wherewithall or the materials. In this case, with the expert help of the CCEDC, one firm -- Westchester Modular, our field trip destination -- and one not-for-profit -- the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange -- are providing the bulk of what we need, so that you and yours can come and make amazing creations and take them home. (see my post from a few days back about our Makers Square...).

I'm excited! They are going to let us pick out all sorts of cool odds and ends (and I think more than odds and ends...real, quality materials). And then, bless their roofing and hammers, they're going to help make sure these resources arrive well in time to be sorted, stored and put out for the 10 a.m. start to the Earth Day Celebration. We thank Westchester Modular (and the HV Materials Exchange -- more on them in another post further down the line...) for stepping up and stepping in to give us the goods that will make your making really fun and special!


Can't wait...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The uniqueness of zero (landfill, that is...)

By now you know that the Dutchess County Fairgrounds' Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration is going to be a very special event.

It is also going to be unique (in lots of ways, but this one in particular...). It's going to be a Zero Landfill Event. Yes. Courtesy of our sponsors, Covanta Hudson Valley Renewable Energy and Royal Carting Service Company, and with the help of the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency, the Earth Day Celebration will be a Zero Landfill Event.

That's right. Zero Landfill.

What does that mean? Simple. No solid waste generated during the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration will be put into a landfill. Period.

We will recycle whatever we can, and the items that cannot be recycled or composted will be turned into electricity at the Poughkeepsie waste-to-energy plant.

Now, let's get something straight: This is not some smoke-belching, old-school incinerator. The waste-to-energy plant is a clean burning facility, whose air emission tests meet or exceed the strictest federal standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (Absolutely true. See the information for yourself at Covanta's booth in the Hall of Green Energy at the Earth Day Celebration.)

What is waste-to-energy exactly? It's a process that takes solid WASTE -- generated by towns just like yours and mine, your own household trash, or solid waste from venues like the Dutchess County Fairgrounds -- and instead of putting it into the landfill, transfers it TO combustion chambers where it is burned and reduced to 10% of its original volume. The heat created by burning the solid waste heats up water in steel tubes that form the walls of the combustion chambers. The water turns into steam, which in turn is put through a turbine that continuously generates ENERGY in the form of electricity. The electricity goes back into the power grid to light and heat homes and businesses. There you are: WASTE-TO-ENERGY.

And that's what's going to happen to ALL the solid waste you and I and the activities you'll participate in at the Celebration generate that is left over after we're done recycling all the bottles and cans, cardboard, metal, oil and food scraps. It's going to be turned into power. Just think: After you spend your day at the Earth Day Celebration, go home and turn on the lights, a teensy, weensy bit of the electricity powering your lamps just might be coming from something you threw away at the Fairgrounds!

Talk about lowering your carbon footprint! Oh, and we'll also be piloting food waste composting at the Earth Day Celebration-- again, courtesy of Royal Carting, which will be supplying special bins just for that purpose.

And, you can practice the three R's by bringing your electronic waste with you when you come to the Celebration. We'll be holding another major e-waste take-back weekend (our third!) with Advanced Recovery, Inc. during the same hours as the Earth Day Celebration, as well as document disposal (secure shredding). We hope we'll be able to provide compact fluorescent recycling for your burned out CFLs, and for mercury-containing items such as old thermometers, and other items. So stay tuned for confirmation on that. But the E-waste turn-in and document shredding? That's a done deal.

Friday, March 5, 2010

This little blogger went to (the farmers) market

Natural. Local. Organic. Those are the words I associate with food and Earth Day. But, Earth day comes around in April, a time of year here in New York's Hudson Valley when there's not much produce growing yet. That is, unless you know the right place(s) to look for it.

Well, on April 24th and 25th, look no further than the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration, where local, natural and organic food is going to be a focus (along with tons of other cool stuff to see and do), starting with a Farmers' Market, right in the middle of Building E.

Yep. If you want to buy and taste a bunch of the local, natural and organic bounty of our region, come to our Earth Day Celebration and march yourself into the Farmers Market, which will boast some of the best our Hudson Valley farmers have to offer! SO far, the list of what you'll be able to see, buy, taste and take home includes: cheese and dairy delicacies, fresh salsa, fruit, jar pickles, jellies, mustards, wines and winter vegetables (yes, you with the sharp eyes...that list
is in alphabetical order...). And the list is growing (fact and pun!) as more farmers commit to being with us!

There also will be CSA farms there offering you the opportunity to sign up for a share of their season's crops.
What's CSA? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. That is, individuals, like you, pay a fee to the farm(s) of their choice, before the season begins (so the Earth Day Celebration at the Fairgrounds is the perfect place and time...) to have a share in the risk and reward of the farm's(s) harvest. Your CSA share helps the farm you've chosen bear the costs of operation, and your reward is utterly fresh, amazing produce (or dairy products, etc.) during the season.

So, to (farmers) market, to (farmers) market to buy a....well, maybe you'll even be able to buy a share of a fat pig! We'll let you know as the farmers market and CSA offerings expand over the coming weeks. Check back and see!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Make-ing the most of it!

Have you ever heard of a Maker Faire?
I hadn't until about a year ago. Lots of folks I know didn't either, until I told them what I'd learned about it.

So, for those of you who have never encountered this phenomenon (and trust me, it IS a phenomenon)....A Maker Faire is a festival of, by and for creative, resourceful people of all ages and backgrounds who like to tinker and love to make things. Making and Maker Faires are now a global movement. In fact, if you Google "Maker Faire 2010," in four tenths of a second, you'll get 1,640,000 results.

Where are they held? Everywhere! From San Francisco to Detroit and New York City (well Queens, but hey, it's one of the 5 boroughs) to the UK to Africa.

Oh, and at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration on April 24th and 25th.

Okay, so we're not doing a whole Maker Faire. At the HV 40th, we're having what is known as a Maker Square, or a Mini Maker.

But whatever you call it, it's going to be loads of fun...

Run by the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County's 4-H program, our Maker Square and Swappapalooza (yeah, Swappapalooza...say that 5 times fast!) is in keeping with our environmental theme. That is, working with our 4-H and community volunteers, kids and grownups will recycle old clothes, blankets, construction and other materials to make their own fantastical creations.

Wanna make a tee shirt into a reusable shopping bag? Pick out a tee, sit down with a volunteer and a sewing machine, and make away! A hat out of a pair of pants? Do it! A soft sculpture or a puppet or a....a....thingamabobber? You can! It won't cost you a dime. We'll help you. And you can take it home!

Now, for those of you who are not textile-minded or who have a deep aversion to sewing machines, glue guns, buttons and glitter, all you D-I-Yers can get with construction materials, hammers and nails, plastic dohickies, maybe even--if we can get 'em--teeny engines to make things go (and sorry...glue guns...we love glue guns) and make sculpture, castles...whatever you want. For nothing, and take it home to keep.

Oh, did I mention you also can get your creation judged, and maybe win a Big Blue Ribbon at the end of the day?

How can we provide all this cool stuff? With a little help from our friends at Westchester Modular, who are donating construction materials galore, and the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange, which tells us it is donating all sorts of cool stuff, including textiles and tissue and more. There are other companies and organizations that will also be donating, and we'll let you know who they are when they decide what they want to give.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

And so(lar), it goes!

Question: Where are the coolest solar and electric cars being built in the Hudson Valley?

BZZZZ: Sorry, you're wrong. Not in some big manufacturing facility up or down Valley.

Correct Answer: They're made at the Newburgh Free Academy, by the NFA Solar Racing Team under the guidance of teacher and Advisor Christopher W. Eachus.

Question: Where can you see those cars up close and personal?

You know the answer to this, right?
Correct! On April 24th and 25th, only at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration!

Yup. Built by high schoolers, raced by those teenagers, and explained to you, by those same young people. This is a don't-miss-it opportunity to be dazzled. These are A-mazing kids, who are smart, articulate and ready to show the Hudson Valley their work. I've met some of them before, but when I last saw the group, they only had room to display one of their solar cars. This time, they'll be bringing a number of them, and electric cars and racers, too.

We hope to be able to have the group run the cars, not just display them.
Of course, that requires a sunny weekend!
(For those of you who go back that far, think the Woodstock chant: "No rain. No rain. No rain." The rest of you, just send out thoughts for clear weather...)

No matter what Mother Nature deals out that weekend, you've gotta see this.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

As Seen on (Big Green) TV

Kids and their parents are going to love this...

Big Green TV is coming to the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration! I met today with Stephen Blauweiss, the Executive Producer/Director of this great environmental news site geared for kids age 8 to 13. He, and his BGTV crew, including little BG (he's the TV here with the smile) and Amy Loewenhaar, BGTV's news anchor (she's a killer bee!) will be in the kids' building doing shows, interacting with BG and children who stop by, and flitting around from event to event, filming for their next shows!

We are SO lucky to get BGTV to come and live at the Earth Day Celebration for the entire weekend! This is an awesome new(s) show, and you just won't bee-lieve what your kids will learn while they play.

Bee there or bee square (couldn't help that...sorry)!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Take the Tap Water Challenge!

Okay. Remember the Coke and Pepsi challenges, where people were asked to blind taste test samples of each cola and say which one they liked better? Well, at the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration, the Hudson River Keeper may be doing a taste test of its own, only this time, the beverages will be good old H2O.

In addition to their booth in one of the Green Exhibit halls at the Earth Day Celebration, River Keeper told me today that they'd like to run their "Take the Tap Water Challenge" -- which just happens to be launching during Earth Week.

Will you be able to tell the difference between tap and bottled water in a blind taste test? Post your opinion, then come to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on April 24th and 25th, take the Tap Water Challenge, and see if you're right!

These are the days -- the Earth Days, that is...

Wow! Earth Days, the Robert Stone film about the birth of the environmental movement, and Earth Day, is coming to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds' Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration! This is huge! The film, which has shown at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, and across the country, will be aired nationally on PBS April 19th and 22nd. And then, at the Earth Day Celebration on April 24th and 25th, it will be screened by Robert Stone himself.

I spoke to Robert today -- the producer/director of Earth Days, who lives right here -- and he offered to screen this incredible movie, for free, on both days of our Earth Day Celebration, and talk about it to the audience. Anyone who wants to can come and watch, then hear him talk about his film.

Now all we have to do is work out the logistics and times (stay tuned...), and it's a go.

If this isn't going to be a don't-miss-it event, I don't know what is!