Thousands of students and residents celebrated Earth Day a week early on Saturday, meeting on Goleta Beach to protest carbon emissions and in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park to champion environmentalism, promote recycling and take advantage of the alcohol permit.
As the nearly 2,000 people shuffled into Anisq’ Oyo’ Park for the annual Earth Day Festival, a much smaller crowd gathered at Goleta Beach to protest global warming. About 15 Goleta residents and UCSB students met at midday to throw ice cubes into the ocean in a symbolic protest against global warming, specifically the rising temperatures of the Earth’s oceans.
The event was part of a national effort started by students and professors at Middlebury College in Vermont to promote action against climate change this Earth Day. Matthew Lundin, an Isla Vista resident, coordinated the event.
“We’re not literally trying to cool down the ocean,” Lundin said. “It’s satire, symbolic, a way to bring together different people with similar feelings about the issue.”
Bill Smiley, a Goleta resident and activist in attendance, said the dearth of global warming news in the mainstream media has kept the public from rallying behind the cause. However, Smiley said he was happy to participate in the event at Goleta Beach – even though attendance was low.
“Things start small and keep building,” he said.
Low attendance was not a problem a few miles away however, as a crowd of up to 2,000 packed Anisq’ Oyo’ Park to sit in on the Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board and Isla Vista Recreation and Park District’s Earth Day music festival. The event lasted until well after dark, and students and Isla Vistans filled the grassy amphitheater to listen and dance to 10 musical acts.
This year’s festival was a “zero waste event” – one where organizers hoped to recycle as much waste as possible, and leave no trash behind. To make good on this promise, organizers set up a compost site, a recycling store where participants could turn in their recyclables for bottled water and a children’s corner where children could build bird feeders.
Coordinator Alessandra Baer, a third-year business economics and Spanish major, said this year’s slogan, “Plant the Truth,” and the message behind the event was intended to stir conscious awareness of the environment.
In the spirit of the festival slogan, Baer and fellow coordinator Lauren Hartman, a fourth-year English major, said EAB planted trees before the event to offset all the carbon used by the festival. The carbon dioxide from the trees were tasked with offsetting all the fuel used for travel to the event, the electricity created from the musical equipment and the energy used to make fliers for the event.
“We want people to know the truth about the environment locally and to take action,” Baer said.
Baer and Hartman said that compared to past Isla Vista Earth Days, this year’s festival focused more on local bands rather than bigger bands. Performances included local reggae band Rebelution, UCSB’s Battle of the Bands winner Boombox Orchestra, as well as Wrong Again and Cavil at Rest. A group of belly dancers came on stage, not to mention Jared Stein on the fiddle and acoustic guitar playing accompanied reggae artist Ras David.
David’s soulful rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” was perhaps the musical highlight of the day and had the audience singing along the entire time. Participants threw tortillas in the air throughout the day, in celebration of the music.
Even as darkness fell and the festival’s alcohol permit neared its 8 p.m. expiration time, Baer said the crowd remained exceptionally “mellow.”
A spokesman for the I.V. Foot Patrol officers agreed with Baer, and said the festival was calm by I.V. standards, and that there were relatively few infractions.