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Earth Day Goes Virtual

Planet Earth

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But plans to celebrate with outdoor festivals, big rallies and climate strikes have been scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic. The observances have gone digital. 

The Springfield Museums have hosted an Earth Day Festival for 30 years.   In past years it was held on the quadrangle.  This year it will be a virtual festival. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Dan Augustino, a staff member of the Springfield Museums who organized the Earth Day festival.

It's really easy. All you have to do is go right to the website. And there's a link to the virtual Earth Day festival. And once you hit the main page, there's a, we're open for engagement. So we have all these online activities. And one of the events is the virtual event, virtual Earth Day event. And let me just say, start by saying to everyone here, at the Springfield Museums, we really miss all of our visitors and having everybody be able to come in and visit in person. And we're really looking forward to that time when we can get folks coming back into the museums and meeting up again for programs and you know, seeing everybody in person. But now we do have these virtual events. And one of these programs is a virtual Earth Day event so people can go right to the website. Click on the first page, open for engagement, and you'll see a link to the digital Earth Day festival right there.

Now, is this is this festival happening in real time or is it something that anybody you can drop in anytime and participate?

There’s, well  you can drop in anytime and participate. And there's also some real time offerings as well, the Smithsonian, we're a partner, and they're offering an Earth Day summit. And that's some real time activity that links up with our website. So people can go in there and join the conversation with folks from all over the world hosted by the Smithsonian, and that goes until the 26th. And if you go today, and you want to visit the Springfield Museum's website, there are a whole host of great activities, videos and links to all kinds of great Earth Day activities which demonstrate not only fun ways to enjoy the environment, but also great activities that you can do to make a difference in the health of our planet.

And many of these activities will be present, they'll be there for a few days yet, right? It won't just end on Earth Day.

No, they'll probably be there for a while so you can go there and download them at your own convenience.

Are these geared towards children, adults, or both?

We have both offerings we have activities for children ranging from coloring books to birding activities, which folks can do as families. We also have great gardening projects which adults can do if you want to learn how to make a rain garden and you're worried about stormwater runoff from your house or your business. You can get some basic plans and ideas of how to do that. You know, a lot of the activities are geared for families, but there there's plenty for children and adults. So there's a lot of great stuff there.

What are some of your favorites?

I like the rain garden activity. That's one of my favorites. There's a few others that are pretty good, the birding activity. there's a there's a great link where you can go around to different spots in the city of Springfield, which are birding hotspots, and that's something that you can do now if you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors a little bit

You can visit these birds’ hotspots in person or you can visit them virtually?

You can visit them virtually. But you can also if you're traveling alone or in a small group, you can probably visit them. They give you directions to where they are right now.

Now I know that the Springfield Museums have had an Earth Day festival for I guess about 30 years now and a lot of community groups are involved. Did the community groups get a chance to participate in this in this virtual Earth Day festival?

Yes, they did. This is our 30th anniversary of the earth day festival. And many of our exhibitors, we had 21 participants set to participate, which they would, they would have come together on the quadrangle green. So many of these exhibitors have provided us with digital content for the festival. So that's great, and they're all listed and we have links to their websites, so you can learn about what they're doing on behalf of the environment too.

This is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day a pretty, pretty significant milestone. And yet, given the circumstances with a pandemic, I guess the celebration is somewhat muted. Certainly different than what otherwise would have been. What are your thoughts about that?

Well, I think the big message is that even though we're in some strange conditions, right now, there's a lot of positive things that you can do to make a big difference. And there's a lot of positive messages and conversations out there. So if you visit the Earth Day festival, you're going to learn about fun, exciting things, and all these positive things that you can do to make the world a better place and make the environment healthier for everybody. So there's a positive message here. And I think if people take the time to kind of really explore it, you're going to learn that there's people doing a lot of these projects around the entire world and they’re making a difference. So there's it's a positive message.

All right, anything else you want folks to know?

Just have a stay safe and healthy. Follow all the guidelines from local and federal governments and happy Earth Day, and go out and enjoy the outdoors a little bit if you have the chance in your own yards and things like that. So I'm looking forward to a happy Earth Day for the 50th anniversary.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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