Earth Day festivities attracted upwards of 1,000 revelers Saturday afternoon and evening at Isla Vista’s Anisq’ Oyo’ Park.
Activities accommodated people of all ages, ranging from an arts and crafts table where children made peanut butter-covered pinecone bird feeders, to the amphitheater area where several bands played well into the night to entertain the often energetic and dancing crowd.
The event was sponsored by Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board (EAB), the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) and the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD).
“We want to promote earth consciousness and get people to live as lightly as possible,” said Christine Underwood, EAB office manager and event planner. “We want to get people riding bikes instead of driving, buying locally, using nontoxic cleaning chemicals and start taking responsibility for the environment we live in.”
EAB and CalPIRG members planned and organized the event while the IVRPD board of directors waived the $50 park usage fee and provided maintenance and cleaning staff. A.S. Program Board donated sound equipment for use on the main stage.
Rob Cunningham and Ashley Reede, co-directors of CalPIRG’s UCSB Earth Day 2003 Campaign, staffed a table near the park’s entrance to pass out literature and collect signatures on postcards to send to government officials.
Cunningham said the postcards were for people to express their interest in protecting the environment by voicing their disapproval of efforts by power plant industry lobbyists and the Bush administration to roll back pollution level standards set forth by the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
“The war has been taking up front-page headlines; nobody hears about the proposed rollbacks of these signature environmental regulations,” Cunningham said.
Reede said that getting people involved is the main reason CalPIRG sponsored the Earth Day event.
“You can get caught up in the fun,” Reede said, “but apart from the celebration, there are issues that we’re out here to protect.”
Cunningham said the American public supports legislation that protects the environment but is largely unaware of the nature of these rollbacks, which would allow the upgrade of aging power plants without the installation of pollution-decreasing technology.
“It’s not an issue that’s on the forefront of America’s consciousness,” Cunningham said.
Representatives from other environmental interest organizations including the local Surfrider Foundation chapter, the Student Coalition for Peace and the IVRPD’s Adopt-A-Block Program also staffed tables during the day.
Michael Porzucki, a sophomore Spanish and religious studies major and Student Coalition for Peace member, said the group was primarily formed as a reaction to a possible war with Iraq, but also focuses on environmental issues such as University of California involvement in nuclear weapons research.
“We’re here trying to get UC out of nuclear weapons research,” Porzucki said. “We’re getting students together to write letters to Chancellor Yang to get him to write a position paper on the subject.”
Porzucki said the Student Coalition for Peace has already sent around 100 personal and form letters with signatures to Chancellor Yang.
“We want to get the word out and hopefully see if people can go about educating themselves,” Porzucki said.
Diane Conn, an IVRPD director, said the IVRPD has come under criticism for waiving park usage fees.
“To me, it was a very small contribution for something that provides entertainment and recreation for the whole community,” Conn said. “No one loses their security deposit. We rarely have problems with people cleaning up the park after themselves.”