Live a little greener: Earth Day and more online
— Created April 8, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Kacie Jo Voeller
From building rain gardens to calculating a household’s carbon footprint, Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month often brings inspiration and new ways for community members to go green. The month typically brings a number of events and a festival to the area, but this year’s celebration will look different than it has in the past. Goosefoot, a local nonprofit involved with presenting the event, has been focused on moving its resources for Earth Day and more to an online format.
Sami Postma, events and education coordinator for Goosefoot, said the committee behind Earth and Ocean Month was determined to continue to provide resources and ways for community members to safely celebrate and observe Earth Day from anywhere.
“We decided to go ahead and put up the virtual festival which allows us to put up resource guides and videos and interviews and anything that our participating organizations send us in one place online so that anyone can access at any time,” she said.
Postma said the event is the collective effort of a committee made up of representatives from Goosefoot, Greening Congregations Collaborative, South Whidbey Tilth, Whidbey Institute, Whidbey Watershed Stewards and Washington State University Waste Wise.
“Goosefoot is just the megaphone amplifying the voice of everybody who is out there doing the work,” she said.
Postma said the Whidbey Island community is surrounded by a wealth of natural resources and spaces needing preservation and protection, and even in a time where groups are not able to gather, there are steps individuals and families can take to become greener.
“We are already surrounded by such natural beauty that people come from all over to see it, so we need to take care of it,” she said.
The committee had planned on several events and gatherings to support environmental awareness, but has transitioned to providing support for the event online at www.whidbeyearthday.org, which will be continually updated with more resources, projects and activities. She said island residents have been very responsive to Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month in the past, and many community members strive to help reduce their environmental impact.
“We already have a community that is aware of the problem and their impact on it and they are looking for ways to help,” she said.
Postma said the website currently offers access to activities ranging from ideas for exploring the outdoors close to home, constructing a rain garden and informational videos about environmentally-focused groups around the area.
“There are a lot of great resources out there and we are going to be adding even more,” she said.
Whether it is for Earth Day efforts or assisting small businesses with improving their online presence, Postma said transitioning programs online and using platforms like Zoom and social media has been key for Goosefoot and the continuation of its community efforts.
“Technology has been completely vital,” she said. “The whole office is working from home, but I am still able to get out all of this information, keep the website updated, keep our social media going so we can maintain that crucial social connection with each other even though we cannot see each other in person. I am offering a whole series of online webinars for businesses to help them get online and connected with their customers, so the fact that we have access to this technology is enabling us to continue to assist our community despite the current situation.”
Marian Myszkowski, program director for Goosefoot, said the ability to transfer programs to the virtual realm has been a key piece in allowing Earth Day-related activities and other programs to continue as the community continues to implement social distancing and stay-at-home measures.
“With all the technology available, there are new ways to find how to continue to keep social interactions and education happening in different ways,” she said.
Myszkowski, who helps coordinate the annual art show held in conjunction with Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month, said the show will move online as well. While the “Rags, Rubbish, and Refuse: Artists Who Get Dirty” exhibit was open at the Hub Art Gallery on March 6, it was closed after the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” order was issued. She said as of Saturday, the show will be available to view online at www.frontroomgallerybayview.com.
“All the artwork on display is made from recycled and repurposed materials,” she said. “Each piece displays levels of creativity and ingenuity that will become more and more relevant if we continue to face restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic for much longer. Their work must be seen. Creativity is known to thrive in times of adversity. Many of us will rely on creative pursuits to keep us sane.”
Myszkowski said in addition to the continuing Earth and Ocean Month, Goosefoot has been working to bring other programs and resources to the online community.
“When the stay at home and essential business-only orders were implemented, we looked at how Goosefoot could best retool its programs,” she said. “Individual entrepreneurs and small businesses were going to be hit hard, so it was important to continue our free business workshops by putting them online as webinars.”
Myszkowski added Postma would be conducting a 10-part webinar for Online Selling and Social Media, and Goosefoot will also be including a digital edition of its farm stand brochure, available after April 13 at www.whidbeyfarmstands.com.
“This will allow for the addition of new farm stands that crop up (pun intended) and for the addition of producers of single items, such as eggs and honey,” she said. “A print version will still be available. One of the best things we can do for our health — and for an important segment of our local economy — is to purchase as much food as we can from our local farmers and ranchers.”