As Earth Day nears, the Santa Barbara community recognizes its importance, despite its small size, in the environmental movement. The story behind Earth Day is that Sen. Gaylord Nelson visited Santa Barbara after a 1969 oil spill left 35 miles of our coastline contaminated with oil-slicked beaches. Thoroughly disgusted by the devastation that the oil spill wreaked on the Santa Barbara community, Sen. Nelsen returned to Washington, D.C. and passed a bill in 1970 designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth.

The theme for the South Coast Earth Day Festival is “Reduce Your Eco-Footprint.” The event will be held at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Gardens from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A few of the highlights of the event will be a green car show and advanced transportation marketplace, alternative energy displays, upcoming environmental technologies, live music on a solar-powered stage and free bicycle checkups.

A more local Earth Day celebration for UCSB will be held at Anisq’ Oyo’ Park. Associated Students and Environmental Affairs Board sponsored the event, and attendees should expect live music and booths featuring varying environmental causes.

By attending these events, students can show the local government that we care about environmental issues. This will create greater incentive for our local government to give us more ways to be green. Check out the booths at the downtown Santa Barbara Earth Day celebration to show that you care about renewable energy, and that you realize Earth’s supplies of oil and petroleum are unsustainable. By doing so, you make a case to local government officials that these are the issues we care about.

Unfortunately, this columnist will be visiting Santa Cruz this weekend and missing out on the Santa Barbara festivities. But you can bet I will report back with what our friends up north did to celebrate and appreciate the 38th annual Earth Day.