By ALEX LYONS and ELIZABETH FITZZALAND
For the past several years, we have been part of a small, dedicated group of community members who organized an annual celebration in Centennial Park for Earth Day. Those who came out to enjoy this event will attest that it was a truly inclusive and joyous gathering, made possible by locals coming together to share their talents and resources.
There is a lot to be proud of. We are proud that elders from the Tsawout and Penelakut Nations came to the park to participate. We are proud to have created the Earth Hero Awards, in collaboration with Transition Salt Spring, to acknowledge more than a dozen locals who go above and beyond to create a better world. We are proud of all the performers and people who shared their talents, ideas, skills and visions. We are proud of all the kids, adults and seniors who spent the day mingling together.
It has been an honour to work alongside fellow organizers Nomi Lyonns, Eric Gordon and Dennis Lucarelli to see the events come to life and to witness the community show up in unique and colourful ways as only Salt Springers can.
Sadly, this year we had to cancel the event as it was too much work for our small group to do alone. We have jobs, young families, businesses to run and other volunteer commitments. Our group has shrunk — not grown — over the years, despite many public requests for help. The CRD used to set up their big tent for us but is no longer doing so.
Our event date is three weeks after the cut-off for the new Salt Spring Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants program that was designed to fund events just like this one.
Each year we volunteer hundreds of hours and donate our own funds to make this event happen. Other local businesses have also generously donated, but even those contributions require volunteer time to attract and acknowledge.
We hope that the Earth Day Celebration in the Park is revived in 2020, and we encourage you to get involved. We also encourage the CRD, Chamber of Commerce and Salt Spring Foundation to work together to find ways to support this event and other local events like it. Coordination assistance and a commitment to help with the event infrastructure would make an annual celebration like this more sustainable. We think there is a lot of merit and benefit to activating our central public space with free celebrations that bring locals of all ages together.
In the meantime, please consider participating in one of the many other Earth Day activities planned for this year, including a school garden work bee at Salt Spring Elementary and clean-up initiatives all over the island. These are great ways to come together as a community and make some positive change.
The writers were among core Earth Day celebration organizers.