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The date was April 22, 1970, and the city of Jamestown had made national headlines. To celebrate the first ever Earth Day, then-mayor Stun Lundine had helped arrange a shocking display of pollution: a 30-ton mountain of sand dropped in the center of downtown, to be exact. The stunt was reported by Frank Blair, an NBC correspondent for the Today Show: “In Jamestown, NY, the Kiwanis Club arranged to dump 30 tons of sand to show just how much dirt falls in one square mile during just 30 days of maximum air pollution.”
That pile of dirt went on to become a symbol of Jamestown’s trailblazing efforts in pursuit of environmental protection, a mission which continues in the city to this day. In the decades since Jamestown’s unconventional pollution display, the community has gone on to achieve other significant conservational feats. Lundine was selected to sign the United Nation’s Earth Day Proclamation, putting him amongst the ranks of many distinguished scientists, politicians, and leaders. Jamestown was named a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to preserving and growing trees amidst urban development. And local businesses, churches, and schools have all jumped on the bandwagon, finding their own ways to preserve Jamestown’s natural habitat.
This year, the tradition continues. With Earth Day falling this Saturday, Apr. 22 and Arbor not far behind – next Friday, Apr. 28 – groups across the county are planning events to celebrate the earth. Read on to discover how you can become a part of Jamestown’s history of environmentalism this Earth Day and Arbor Day.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church: GreenUp Jamestown
Possibly no one has gotten into the Earth Day spirit more than St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown. Resident Rev. Luke Fodor has developed an environmental movement, called GreenUp Jamestown, which has reached into the community far beyond the limits of his church’s doors.
“Everyone knows about Earth Day, but not everyone does something about Earth Day,” Fodor said. “The goal is to get people really engaged. We hope this initiative becomes an even bigger grassroots movement, that it’s something people seize onto. It’s exciting to see the way we can shift things.”
Fodor’s GreenUp Jamestown initiative strives to blend education and action in an effort to protect the natural environment. The months-long program, which will culminate on Earth Day, has featured a lecture series, moderated discussions, and various environmental-related presentations.
“We’ve been trying to connect various components of environmental protection,” Fodor said. “We want to provide different lenses through which to think about the environment: a scientific angle, an arts angle, a faith-based angle.”
The 2017 GreenUp series will finish with a day’s worth of festivities on Saturday, Apr. 22. At 1 p.m., the Percussion Group Cincinnati – a concert group which Fodor says taps into the “heartbeat of creation” – will put on a free percussion workshop for the community at the church.
Later, at 6 p.m., Rev. Fodor will lead a brief interfaith service for the healing of the earth. There will be prayer, psalms, intentions, and a silent meditation led by a Buddhist meditation group. The service will be immediately followed at 6:15 p.m. with an art show in the church’s own Winged Ox Art Gallery, complete with refreshments and live music performed by Bill Ward. The exhibit on display will be E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia Hypothesis: Loving Bats and Birds and Leaves. It features nature photography from renowned photographers Sandra Rothenberg and Marilyn Martin.
Finally, the evening will end with a 7:30 p.m. performance by the Percussion Group Cincinnati, also at the church. Tickets for the concert cost $20 at the door and $15 pre-sale, with discounted tickets for senior citizens and free entry for children 18 and under.
“The earth is not for us to exploit, but to enjoy and to steward,” Fodor said. “We are tied to our natural world’s cycles. We are rooted in the earth. We can’t abuse it.”
For more information on the GreenUp movement and its Earth Day festivities, visit GreenUpJamestown.com.
JCC: Earthfest & Arbor Day Celebration
The Earth Awareness Club (EAC) at Jamestown Community College (JCC) has gone all-out this year, planning not only an Earthfest celebration, but Arbor Day festivities as well.
Earthfest, which has been a tradition for nearly three decades now, is an Earth Day celebration that is free and open to the public. It will take place at JCC’s Student Union and outdoors, weather permitting, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 19. This year, the EAC has collaborated with organizations such as the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the Audubon, and the Watershed Conservancy to bring educational displays and local vendors to the event. The celebration will also feature lives music by Jamie Haight and an exotic animals and reptiles display by Jeff Musial.
“This event started very small, but it has grown over the years,” said Jan Bowman, JCC professor of biology and advisor of the EAC. “A lot of what is happening now is student-driven, and it’s definitely amped up. We have a lot of local vendors now, because we want to encourage people to learn about what we have locally, buy locally, and support local businesses.”
The Tree Guys will be special guests at this year’s Earthfest, where they will begin carving an owl out of catalpa wood. The wood carving will be completed at the college’s Arbor Day festivities the following week, and then the owl will be housed at JCC.
The official Arbor Day celebration will begin Wednesday, Apr. 26 at noon on the corner of Falconer St. and Curtis St. in Jamestown. Besides the wood carving, JCC’s Vice President of Administration will read the proclamation for Arbor Day, followed by a tree planting. According to Bowman, tree preservation is very important not only to the EAC, but to the JCC campus as a whole.
“We’re actually the first community college in New York State to become a Tree Campus USA college,” Bowman said. “We have a tree committee, and we have a management plan that is updated and implemented every two years by urban forestry interns. Everyone’s very involved.”
Ashville Bay Marina: Kids Day at the Bay
Area conservationists will gather at the Ashville Bay Marina from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday for a kids-friendly Earth Day celebration. The event, titled “Kids Day at the Bay,” is free and open to the public. The day will feature conservation-themed crafts and prizes, projects put on by the BOCES Conservation Club, and a hotdog sale sponsored by the Future Farmers of America. Best of all, children will have the chance to learn how to fly fish.
“This event is mostly for the kids, to get them down here,” said Brittany Kirchhoff, Ashville Bay Marina employee. “They’ll have a chance to learn how to tie flies, which essentially means tying your own lures for fly fishing.”
For more details, visit the Ashville Bay Marina’s Facebook page or call them at 716-763-6676.
Audubon: Volunteer Day
The Audubon is always busy working to keep its building and grounds beautiful for visitors and wildlife alike. This Earth Day, the Audubon asks community members to consider giving back by volunteering to help maintain the nature center.
The day will begin at 8:30 a.m., with registration taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. During registration, volunteers can select a crew to work with on a specific project, such as pulling non-native plants, gardening, and picking up roadside litter. The volunteer work will run from 9 a.m. to noon, and then from noon to 1 p.m., the Audubon will provide its volunteers with lunch and prizes.
“I think it’s important to let people know that they’re making a difference,” said Jeff Tome, Senior Naturalist at the Audubon. “We want to give everyone an opportunity to help out.”
Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for this event beforehand at AudubonCNC.org. This year’s Volunteer Day is partially funded by a grant from the Blossom Fund, administered by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation (CRCF).
The Shred Center: Benefiting Hospice
When brothers Jamie and Taylor Swanson bought the Shred Center in January, there was one tradition they knew they wanted to preserve from its previous owners: free paper shredding on Earth Day. Rather than charge customers for shredding services on this day, the Shred Center encourages them to instead make donations to Hospice Chautauqua County.
“[Former owners] Mazany Office Interiors had been doing this right along, and we wanted to continue on with that tradition,” Jamie Swanson said. “We’ll have Hospice right there on-site, so folks can just make a donation directly to them.”
Free shredding will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Shred Center’s new location at 1943 New York Ave. in Falconer. The Shred Center is a leader in secure and confidential shredding and will offer documents of destruction to those who may require them. The business is also a leader in the recycling movement: although paper is not recycled on-location, every last shred is repurposed by separate paper companies.
“Recycling keeps so much paper out of our landfills,” Jamie Swanson said. “All of our white paper usually goes somewhere upstate and is made into Kleenex. The colored paper goes to Buffalo to Hanna Paper Recycling, Inc.”
Learn more about The Shred Center’s services by visiting their website at TheShredCenter.com, or call 716-664-3052.
Parks & Rec: Arbor Day Tree Plantings
2017 marks the 37th year that the city of Jamestown is a Tree City USA location. Not only that, but for the past eight years, Jamestown has gone above and beyond to earn a Growth Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. This is in large part thanks to environmentally concerned organizations such as the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, the CRCF, and of course, the Jamestown Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department.
“These recognitions show that we have a community that really cares about our trees,” said Dan Stone, arborist for the city of Jamestown. “We’ve done a planting every year for the last decade. We now have over 13,000 street trees in the city of Jamestown, and we’ve planed 320-some different varieties.”
Stone plans to organize at least three plantings this year, and he specifically hopes to plant on McDaniel Ave. and Main St. in Jamestown. He is also organizing a planting for Arbor Day, for which the date is to be determined but will probably fall in the second week of May. Stone is also scheduled to visit each school in Jamestown to lead an Arbor Day tree planting for the students.
While Arbor Day may be the biggest planting day for Stone and his fellow employees in the Parks Department, he said that tree planting is on their agenda year-round.
“We plant trees in the city at no cost to the homeowners,” Stone said. “If anybody is interested in having a tree planted in front of their house, they can just give us a call at the Parks Department. I’ll try to let them pick out the tree they want and everything.”
Interested in planting a tree, free of charge? Call Stone at 716-483-7554.
With celebrations and volunteer opportunities springing up all over the greater Jamestown Area for the rest of April, there is no excuse not to get out there and help protect the beautiful environment of Chautauqua County. So choose a day, pick an event, and go get green!