Both Isla Vista and downtown Santa Barbara hosted festivals in honor of Mother Earth on Sunday, with a vast assortment of tie-dyed T-shirts, organic granola bars, compost heaps and hemp jewelry for all.

The South Coast Earth Day Festival, at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, and a similar Earth Day festival – hosted by Associated Students at Anisq’Oyo’ Park – were held to raise awareness of environmental issues in the local community. Activities, food and entertainment were provided for people of all ages, and local environmental agencies set up informational booths to foster public interest in the health and future of the planet.

Among the many organizations on hand at the courthouse festival was Heal the Ocean, a non-profit citizen action group that deals with near-shore pollution in Santa Barbara.

“Recent events have heightened public awareness of the importance of being free from the threat of contamination,” said Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean. “We feel that the public, now more than ever, has a heightened sense of what it means to be free of pollution.”

“We have come a long way in the past 33 years,” said Rep. Lois Capps. “Our oceans, rivers and lakes are cleaner, our parks and open spaces more vast, yet much remains to be done. We need to increase our commitment to renewable and efficient energy, to keeping our air and drinking water clean and safe, and to protecting our natural resources from excessive development.”

A “hemp pavilion” was erected on the courthouse lawn with booths that promoted the use of hemp as a sustainable, non-polluting, and renewable source of food, fuel, fiber and medicine.

The Environmental Defense Center was also present.

“We are living in momentous times,” said EDC Executive Director Y. Armando Nieto. “It is impossible to ignore the fact that in this new year each of us is personally challenged to participate in shaping the kind of world in which we want to live.”

Other booths promoted the use of organic food, sustainable landscape, and negative population growth. Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, the Ellwood Coast and Isla Vista Food Co-op were all represented, and clothing boutiques, musical performances, guest speakers and children’s activities were held throughout the day.

Isla Vista’s Earth Day festival featured music from local bands, guest speakers from CalPIRG, the Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club, Polynesian dancers and a production of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.”