Whidbey celebrates Earth and Ocean Month

— Created April 13, 2022 by Melanie Hammons

By Melanie Hammons

The country, the world, has come a long way from the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. Today, Whidbey Island has so many ways to participate one day couldn’t contain them all.  So Goosefoot, the local organization heading up the celebration, has devoted the entire month of April to doing just that.

Whidbey’s take on the event expands it beyond just the term “Earth Day,” to “Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month,” for a very practical reason, said Sami Postma, events and education coordinator for Goosefoot.

“Being on an island, we feel like the ocean deserves a special focus too,” she said.  “Plus, extending the event throughout the month allows more people to participate.  It means folks are not left out because of a work schedule, for example.”

Each week in April comes with a specific topic of interest under the over-arching theme “Caring for our Common Home.”  During week one, the emphasis was on reducing waste, which included tips for proper recycling.  Week two is devoted to transportation issues, while week three focuses on water resources.  Week four is all about food and the benefits of eating locally.  The choice to focus week four on food was timed to coincide with the opening of local farmers markets.

Postma said the areas of emphasis are not limited to those particular weeks only.  Rather, the idea is to get people thinking “week by week about the way we do things, and how they impact not only our lives but our world.”

“It’s interesting to note how these topics are interrelated,” she said.  “Local food choices (week four) will impact transportation (week two.)  Local food choices will also affect waste (week one), and so on.”

One might ask how it’s possible to deliver on an entire month’s worth of activities, service opportunities, education, and fun.  The answer lies in the diverse multitude of organizations and enterprises that are involved, Postma said.

“Events at Deception Pass State Park, art galleries, nature walks, library book read-alongs are just a small selection.  There will literally be something on April’s calendar for everyone,” she said.

Just in the past couple of months, world events have affected everyone’s budgets, specifically with elevated food and energy costs.  Two of the topics addressed, transportation and food, are likely to be of special interest now.  It does seem coincidental, but Postma said there’s no way they could have known, “back in January when we were planning this, that world events would take this sort of turn.”

“That being said, I believe the focus on transportation is especially timely right now, since it leaves such a huge carbon footprint,” she said.

And as far as food goes, Postma welcomes the chance to make people aware of what a great local food system we have on Whidbey.

“There are farmers markets and backyard gardens.  Plus, every school district on the island operates a school garden or farm.  It’s not hard, and really not much more expensive, to eat locally,” she said.

With a well-rounded assortment of offerings during Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month, it’s worth noting that nearly all of the events are free.  That’s an extra bonus for families with children in tow.  Plus, said Postma, “most activities are located within easy access to an [Island Transit] bus route.”

The planning that went into Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month also took into account the scattered nature of many neighborhoods and communities on the island.  “We deliberately tried to spread all of these events and opportunities throughout Whidbey,” said Postma. 

Gaining a deeper appreciation for our common home seems to carry more significance when one is outdoors, viewing and experiencing the natural beauty first-hand.  That, and the warmer weather spring invites, means many chances to get out in the fresh air and springtime breezes.  Postma said the nature walks, work parties, and guided hikes take advantage of that.  And they don’t necessarily end with April’s last day.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Whidbey without an artistic angle to it somehow.  After all, that’s how it started back in 2006, with an art show.  And 2022 is no different.  Look for the month-long-plus art show at the Bayview Cash Store Hub Gallery, featuring artwork made exclusively of recycled and repurposed materials.

“These artists are removing items from the waste stream too, but they’re fashioning them into creative art at the same time,” Postma said.

Hayley Johnson, a park ranger at Deception Pass State Park, highlighted what she said are just a sampling of some of their activities tied to Earth Day, and beyond.

 “On Sunday, April 24, we’re inviting volunteers to assist with fencing restoration on Goose Rock, which is the highest point on Whidbey Island.  Looking beyond the month of April, there’s the ‘Family in Nature’ program we offer in conjunction with Fidalgo Nature School.  Family in Nature is geared to 3-5 year-olds and their families.  It’s offered every other Friday and Saturday, beginning April 1.  And it’s available for sign-ups through June, at the Eventbrite website,” said Johnson.

Mira Thomas, speaking for the Pacific Rim Institute in Coupeville, mentioned that organization’s sponsorship of Prairie Days.  “April 29-30 and May 13-14 are the scheduled dates for Prairie Days this year,” said Thomas.

 She characterized these events as family-oriented activities that are free and designed to connect people with the surrounding natural ecosystems.

The Pacific Rim Institute website cites its vision of a “flourishing creation” as the driving force for what they do.  That vision is a snapshot of what all the events connected to Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month are about.

A full complement of Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month activities are listed on the website www.whidbeyearthday.org.  These include lectures, guided hikes, workshops and much more.  For additional information, see the website at goosefoot.org or contact Sami Postma at 360-321-4246.