Earth Day extravaganza unites ex-hippies, Lawrentians

Peter Gillette

Earth Day participants,with the help of a local Girl Scout troop, cleaned up the area adjacent to the Fox River. (Clara Muggli)

The Earth House, Co-op House, and Greenfire co-sponsored an Earth Day festival last Saturday, providing entertainment, education, and ecological experience for all who spent the day around Main Hall Green.
The day began with a river clean-up, with help from area Girl Scouts. After collecting a variety of trash from around the Fox River, participants created a garbage sculpture that stood next to a tree across from the library for the remainder of the day, standing as a reminder and representation that ecology is a local issue.
All morning long, the Bill Jorgenson Trio jammed old-timey bluegrass from the Wriston Amphitheatre. A rather motley crew stopped by from time to time to tap their toes. The decent-sized crowd seemed to encompass all from diehard bluegrass aficionados, environmentalists and proto-hippies, random passers-by, Betas taking breaks from their conclave in Riverview, and official looking adults pausing from their tour before stocking up on Lawrence souvenirs at Union Station.
The juxtapositions seem important: the Earth Day celebration was quietly non-commercial, and still managed to appeal to quite a large cross-section. Those willing to “swap” instead of “stop” would have found that the Swap Meet—sponsored by the Downer Feminist Council—was the real place to get Lawrence apparel Saturday.
Discarded LU sweatshirts, outgrown clothes, records, and foreign language books—among other items—covered the tables across from the Mudd. Around 2:00, one Lawrence girl apparently failed to grasp the concept of the swap meet. Seeing something that looked good to her, she pulled out her wallet on instinct and asked, “How Much?”
Adjacent to the Swap Meet, a tent covered a variety of tables and booths preaching environmental causes, responsibility, and efficiency.
“Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps” was perhaps the most interesting table, as the company sports a Ben & Jerry-esque blend of commerce, working class politics, and a nearly-religious zeal for world unity. Besides organic soap, the table included flyers about topics ranging from workers’ rights to hemp legalization. The proprietor also walked over to the rock-painting table, and sang children’s songs with the young painters, strumming his acoustic guitar.
Other attractions included the free “Adopt-a-Plant” and representatives from a soon-to-open, environmentally oriented Wisconsin prep school.
The event was family-friendly, and organizers spread the word throughout the schools. “We believe that it’s important to educate kids when they’re young, so they will become more environmentally-conscious citizens later in life,” said Earth House member Michelle Buttram.

The Bill Jorgenson Trio and Friends treated the Wriston Amphitheatre crowd to a lengthy set of folk favorites. (Clara Muggli)

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