In honor of Earth Week and the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, I spent the past weekend in Washington, D.C., to attend the Earth Day Network's Climate Rally that was held at the National Mall. With weather forecasts predicting terrible rainstorms all weekend, the actual day of the rally turned out to be a beautiful, warm spring day with a large turnout of people eager to listen to insightful speakers and great music from a variety of bands. With the Capitol building and the Washington Monument as imminent figures amongst the backdrop of the Climate Rally, one could not forget the goals of the Rally: to spread awareness of the need for strong climate and energy bills in Congress, expressing this need to government officials, and to educate others about the environment.
Scattered throughout the National Mall's grounds was also a huge stretch of tents sponsored by organizations and companies with the focus of education and awareness on environmental issues. Tents were sponsored by NASA, Siemens, The American Forest Association and many more interesting groups advocating for many environmental causes. There were many great opportunities to learn more about the issues our environment is suffering from today as well as what is being done by companies and non-profit/governmental organizations to resolve these issues.
I was intrigued by the American High Speed Rail Alliance which is a non-profit organization that advocates for the creation of a national, high-speed rail network. This organization is unique in that it presents an innovative energy alternative to transportation in America that would implement sustainable, clean transportation and benefit the people. I was able to write a letter to my state's senators advocating for stronger climate and energy bills after stopping by the Environmental Defense Fund's tent and learning more about the actions needed by citizens. The year's hit movie, "Avatar," was also heavily apparent in many areas of the climate rally for the movie's environmental themes and messages. The "Avatar" tent featured many eco-friendly giveaways such as "Avatar" Earth Day seed packets to encourage participants to participate in the "Home Tree Initiative."
Though many of the organizations featured at the rally promoted advocating and educating on environmental issues, after an armload of promotional freebies, I felt a bit discouraged as to some of the companies' real intent in their involvement with the rally. Though organizations were promoting their groups and goals, I couldn't help but feel a bit contradictory to the Earth Day Network's mission for less consumption and sustainable practices while thousands of free bags, water bottles, frisbees, stickers and flyers were being handed out to everyone with little regard to the root of the environmental issue.
Speakers including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, "Avatar" director James Cameron and author Margaret Atwood were among some of the advocates who spoke at the event and had some insightful points motivating people to help the environment.
Though the purpose of the climate rally may have been a bit "greenwashed" to appeal to the general public, it was a great opportunity to learn more about the environmental issues our world is dealing with, and a rewarding way to interact with others who are advocates for the good of the environment.
Photo: Kasey Lum