Earth Day 2008: 38 years of Earth Day

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The Coalition for the Environment and Earth Day (CEED) has been formed to organize an Earth Day celebration for the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday, April 20, 2008, 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m., at the Auld Pavilion in Antelope Park. The free, no-litter Earth Day event will feature live music in the Antelope band shell, children’s activities, interactive displays, plus presentations by local environmentally concerned groups, businesses and organizations. The first Earth Day was celebrated in April 1970 and led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, U.S. senator from Washington, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts. Earth Day is celebrated every April with the goal of nurturing life on our planet. By Kendall Weyers The first Earth Day, celebrated nationwide in April 1970, was a major success because it grew from the energy of a diverse and widespread grassroots movement. That same type of energy is showing in the planning of Lincoln’s Earth Day 2008. While traditionally sponsored and organized by the city every five years, this year’s event is being coordinated by the Coalition for the Environment and Earth Day (CEED). The celebration 38 years ago brought 20 million Americans into streets, parks and auditoriums around the country to call attention to the need for a healthy and sustainable environment. Public concern had been growing for years as rivers caught fire, urban air pollution grew more and more visible, and other forms of environmental degradation became obvious through­out the country. Sensing the growing concern, Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Washington proposed a nationwide demonstration to clearly show politicians the widespread concern and need for action. The proposal was met with great enthusiasm, resulting in events and activities by thousands of communities, schools and organizations, as well as millions of individuals. A true grassroots movement grew from the idea and resulted in “one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy,” according to Nelson. The heightened awareness created by the original Earth Day helped spur dramatic changes in environmental protection of the planet we call home. The members of CEED have recently witnessed a similar rapidly growing concern among many groups and individuals in Lincoln. Sensing the need for another leap in environmental awareness and protection, they formed their coalition to organize this year’s event that they hope will aid in bringing such change. The strength of the coalition is its diversity, with over 40 member organizations representing various schools, churches, government entities, businesses and other environmentally concerned groups. CEED believes this widespread diversity demonstrates that once again public concern is far ahead of political action.

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