By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Since its founding in 1970, Earth Day has become a worldwide annual event, celebrated on April 22. Organizers of the state and local events say several events are scheduled in Oklahoma throughout April to raise awareness of what citizens can do to help protect the planet.
The Environmental Committee of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches (OCC) announced a Vigil for Earth and an interfaith news conference highlighting Monday, April 1 as the first day of “Earth Month” in Oklahoma.
The news conference will begin at 12:30 p.m., immediately following a public Vigil for Earth. Rev. Shannon Fleck Executive Director of OCC, announced that the event will be held on the northwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Northwest Expressway (across from Penn Square Mall) in Oklahoma City. Speakers at the news conference will share the call from their various faith traditions to protect and preserve nature and life on earth, Fleck said.
The Vigil for Earth will be held each Monday through April, from 12:15 to 12:30 p.m., at the same location, across from the Mall, sponsored by The Peace House in Oklahoma City and endorsed by OCC’s Environmental Committee.
“The vigil and news conference will feature calls from members of different faith traditions to be stewards of Earth as the creation that sustains humanity and all life,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, member of the Environmental Committee and Peace House director. “Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other perspectives call humanity to revere and protect nature and the diversity of life on Earth.
“In 1970 Senator Gaylord Nelson and other members of Congress designated April 22 as a day for actions and education toward sustainability issues on planet Earth,” Batchelder added. “President Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the same year to monitor and regulate environmental issues in the United States.”
The Tulsa’s Earth Day Festival will be held on Saturday, April 20, sponsored by the Tulsa Earth Coalition and Oklahoma Sierra Club. Featured speaker will be Michael Brune, National Executive Director of Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental organization. The free Tulsa Earth Day event will take place at Guthrie Green in the Tulsa Arts District in Tulsa on Sunday, April 22 from noon to 9:30 p.m.
The University of Oklahoma has a variety of activities planned for their celebration of Earth Month. On Tuesday, April 16, the Earth Month OU Distinguished Speaker will be Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist. Hayhoe‘s presentation is entitled “Faith, Climate and Our Culture.” A reception will begin at 5 p.m. in the Thurmon White Forum Building, 1704 Asp Avenue.
The annual City of Norman Earth Day Festival will be held April 28, from noon to 5 p.m., in Reaves Park. Organizers say during this free family friendly event participants will learn more about conservation and how everyone can do their part to help better the earth and their community.
Earth Day Network, the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, has chosen “Protect Our Species” as their 2019 Earth Day theme.
“All living things have an intrinsic value, and each plays a unique role in the complex web of life,” said Kathleen Rogers, Earth Day Network president. “We must work together to protect endangered and threatened species: bees, coral reefs, elephants, giraffes, insects, whales and more.
“Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world,” Rogers added. “We work through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns.”
For more information, visit earthday.org.