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We Heart Earth Day 

by Leah Sottile and Joel Smith

Some of us are environmentalists because we have a real abiding love for the Earth and the sky and the animals therein. Or because we were raised by wolves. Or hippies. Or because we listened to too much Donovan growing up.

But let's face it: For the rest of us, if we're environmentally minded at all, we are so because of guilt. Because these days you get the evil eye if you throw your plastic wrapper on the ground. Or because guys like girls who like topsoil. Because of the weeping Indian by the side of the road. Or because Greenpeace storms the building every time your company slops a little PCB in the river.

Earth Day is being celebrated this year on Saturday at Riverfront Park, from 11 am-3 pm. Arbor Day is being celebrated at that time, too (from 11 am-2 pm), at the Finch Arboretum. (Coincidence?) This probably doesn't mean much to a lot of you, but there's a lot going on out here, and since we figured the promise of good clean earthy fun wouldn't be enough to bring you out, we thought maybe we could guilt you into it.

If you're a washed-up QB...

Then for God's sake, man, don't be like Uncle Rico. Given the fact that those pristinely white running shoes aren't getting you any closer to the draft sitting on the back porch, the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System, in conjunction with WSU, will be available to take those old shoes off your hands. This Saturday, the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe booth will be open for business in Riverfront Park from 11 am-3 pm. The shoes will be chunked up into "Nike Grind," and will become surfaces for athletic fields and tracks. Athletic shoes will be the only kinds of shoes accepted -- so leave the pumps and flip-flops at home. Take one for the team, bro. No one gets cut from Team Earth.

If you love George (no, not that one)...

It would be downright unpatriotic of you to miss the Arbor Day festivities at the Finch Arboretum. The city's Urban Forestry staff made a super-sweet score this year, bringing home to Spokane a two-inch caliper, 16-foot White Ash that is a direct descendant of the White Ash that George Washington planted on his estate in Mt. Vernon. The tree is a donation from Mount Vernon Gardens in Washington, D.C., and the only one of its kind west of the Rockies. Yeah, it would be a little cooler if it was a descendant of that cherry tree the first prez chopped down as a youth, but still, this is a little bit of arboreal history. Be there for the 12:30 pm official planting.

If you love papier mache parades...

Then there's no better place to resist the slaughtering of cute, innocent things than the annual Procession of the Species. Come on, it even sounds cute. Crimson-cheeked toddlers and their mommies suit up in every costume -- alligator to hippo, lion, tiger, bear, sloth, slug and bug -- for the march through Riverfront Park at 1 pm. Don't have a slow loris or black mamba costume on hand? Stop by the Art School booth and make one of your own. Surround yourself among the ranks of animal lovers; it's probably the only thing that'll save you from the fiery pits of hell.

If you just want to see hippie chicks...

Then you're in luck, mon frere. Pitch a blanket on the lawn in Riverfront Park all day and check out an array of Earth Day-friendly local artists. The KuUmba Drummers will kick off the day at 11 am with their West African beats, followed by the folk rock of Jani Gilbert at 11:30 am. The Working Spliffs shake it up at 12:15 pm with a touch of reggae, and the bluegrass troupe Sidetrack will continue the relaxed atmosphere with a performance at 1:30 pm. Earth Day '05 will wrap up at 2:30 pm with the sounds of Locke and the Chris Wilson Five, a jazz-influenced hip-hop group that has all the kids talking.

If your girlfriend is nagging you...

Then take her out to the movies for FREE on Earth Day. At 11 am, check out Broken Limbs, a film about the apple growers of Central Washington. At 12:10 pm, My First Green Video teaches kids about conservation, pollution and energy. Catch The Green Zone at 1 pm, a film about preserving the ecosystems surrounding rivers. Diet for a Small Planet, encouraging vegetarianism and addressing world hunger, plays at 2 pm, and Not For Sale, a film about disturbing corporate practices, screens at 2:30 pm. Take your sweetie to these flicks, and she'll never nag you again. (Nudge, nudge.) All films will be screened in the City Council chambers.

If you love arguing with liberals...

Then meet a whole bunch of 'em at Riverfront Park's Gondola Meadow at 9 am Saturday. The Sierra Club's Chase Davis and the Lands Council's Tania Ellersick are organizing a meet-up for people who want to learn about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and I bet they'd be glad to engage you in a little repartee. From there, they're marching off to the Riverpoint Campus to watch the NEPA Task Force hearings (see "In Brief," page 11). Bring a bullhorn and follow them around; they love that.

If you're allergic to the outdoors...

Then stay in and get crackin' on The Inlander's first annual "In Celebration of Trees" poetry and photography contest. We start accepting submissions on Saturday; the window closes July 15. There's no limit on number of photos or poems submitted -- all we ask is that the focus of your work be the mighty, deeply rooted, life-giving tree. Poems should have the authors listed on the back of each submission. Photographs should be black-and-white, color or digital (no slides please), again with artist's name on the back. Winners will be published in an issue of The Inlander later this year. For more information, pick up a flyer at the Arbor Day celebration in Finch Arboretum this Saturday or watch The Inlander for further announcements.

Publication date: 04/21/05
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