Celebrating Earth Day with GreenUp Jamestown

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Student contribution from Southwestern teacher Ms. Jenny Brown's class

Article Contributed by
Heidi Woodard

Student contribution
from Southwestern teacher
Ms. Jenny Brown’s class

During turbulent times where industrialization’s waste wreaked havoc on the Earth’s ecosystem, the first Earth Day was created on April 22, 1970.

Earth Day was designed to be a call for a national focus on the environment. Earth Day is hailed as ‘The World’s Largest Environmental Movement.’ Locally, the GreenUp Jamestown Coalition will be celebrating Earth Day with a non-sectarian, free public event at the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown on Saturday April 21, 2018.

Three years ago, James Colby and the Reverend Luke Fodor of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church founded GreenUp Jamestown. They are completing their second year of programming which now includes 10 events. The attendance for these Earth Day activities has exceeded expectations and the presenters have sparked lively conversations. Now, area residents are encouraged to attend GreenUp Jamestown’s ArtHappening event.

Saturday Spectrum of Events

Starting at 6:00pm, the program begins with a brief ceremony which will include ten minutes of silent mediation and contemplation. Guests can also join the festivities at 6:15pm (in the main sanctuary). Slam Poet Autumn Echo will perform “An Apology to Mother Earth.” “The Pillar of Light: An Earth Day Revival and Community Sculpture Project” will be illuminated during Autumn’s performance. Autumn’s bold style pushes boundaries, she writes, “I believe in individuality, honesty, power, and persuasion. Complicated and vicious emotions can be stripped down with artistic transparency.”

What Exactly is the Pillar of Light?

The Pillar of Light is an expressive and impressive artwork that was created using 1,056 Ball Jars, galvanized steel, wood, shredded paper, conduit, fiberglass, electrical wire, and thirty-two LED lights. For more than two years, James Colby, former Weeks Gallery director at JCC, visual artist, and environmental activist, conceived, conceptualized, and constructed the ‘Pillar of Light’ sculpture and ArtReach. The ‘Pillar’ will measure approximately 13 x 5 x 5 feet and will weigh around 1,593 pounds.

The artwork is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Regrant Program with support from the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council. Corporate sponsors include Interlectric Corporation and Solar Liberty. Like all true fine artworks, the Pillar of Light has many artistic, symbolic meanings. One of which, according to Colby, is “unity can make a difference: Community members collaborating and cooperating for Earth healing can create a critical mass of love, compassion, critical thinking, and political action.”

James Colby said, “A good friend of mine (who refuses credit) said something like this: ‘Your Pillar of Light represents that which is fleeting and permanent, transparent yet protected, fragile yet strong.’ Like all of us, we grow luminous and tall with support from others. Being connected, as a unified body, mind, and spirit, allows everyone to shine bright and beautiful. Collaboration, cooperation, and altruistic mind sets are the keys to solving today’s challenges.”

The Pillar of Light: An Earth Day Revival and Community Sculpture Project

Listening to the Earth

Like fine art, music is also said to have a life-like essence with a residual effect on the soul. So, it should come to no surprise that the GreenUp Jamestown Coalition’s Earth Day celebration at the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will also feature nature-inspired songs.

At 6:30 p.m. Bill Ward will host the “Earth Day Revue,” performances commemorating Earth Day. Ward will perform and promises to “welcome Buffalo Music Hall of Fame members, The Panfil Brothers, as well as popular Chautauqua County performer Brian Hanna. The program will wander through genres and subjects, while musically highlighting the importance and privilege of loving our island planet.” After the musical interlude, wine and beer tasting will accompany hors d’œuvres provided by a downtown favorite, Studio D Catering.

More than 3,000 residents have already participated in GreenUp Jamestown Coalition and Pillar of Light activities. The process of talking about Earth Day history, listening to scientists, making art, writing, viewing photographer and filmmaker images, and contemplating are all important to visualizing and advocating Earth healing. Among these 3,000 residents who have participated in GreenUp Jamestown activities, many are students.

Connecting Generations

First graders to middle school students from Persell, Love, Lincoln, Clymer, and Southwestern participated in the ‘Pillar of Light’ by creating artworks that sparked Earth mindfulness. Examples of the original creations can be seen at: https://www.greenupjamestown.com/love-and-lincoln-school-images/

GreenUp Jamestown’s outreach is not limited to younger students. Adults and college students from Jamestown Community College have been involved in GreenUp Jamestown events as well. In March, Chris Linder, photographer/filmmaker, presented “Penguins and Permafrost.” These presentations describe “a journey of adventure and discovery of the most inaccessible and hauntingly beautiful places on Earth.” James Colby recalls that after the powerful presentation guests lingered around after the event and stayed for book signings. JCC President Cory Duckworth mentioned that the presentation was one of the better programs during his five-year tenure.

Dr. Sherri Mason offered a dynamic presentation, “Water Politics: Saving the Great Lakes, the Largest Fresh Water Ecosystem on the Planet.” A vegetarian meal was served by Willow Fodor and Audubon Community Nature Center before the lecture. Many guests were motivated to stay for an extended question and answer session. More than 80 community members, from Jamestown, Fredonia, Salamanca, and the surrounding areas relished in the great information shared during the presentation.

Community Connection

Through these community events, GreenUp Jamestown is hoping to capitalize on connecting individuals to each other, connecting to local organizations, and connecting everyone to the love of mother Earth. GreenUp Jamestown is delighted to unite the art community with the local science community and to create a truly unified endeavor that expands global awareness through love of nature. Many organizations have joined GreenUp Jamestown in these efforts, including the Audubon, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Jamestown Community College, and the Robert H. Jackson Center.

Jamestown Gazette readers are encouraged to join GreenUp Jamestown this Saturday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown and to become a beacon of positive change. GreenUp Jamestown focuses on collaboration, cooperation and unity. Saturday’s activities will truly encompass all of things and will be an event the public (and our environment) will remember for a long time to come.