As we wrapped our Earth Day Happy Hour last night we thought about the events that led to the first Earth Day back in 1970, and the unique role Cleveland and the Cuyahoga River served as the flash point for a nation awakening to its burgeoning environmental crisis.
Our Earth Day Happy Hour was a fun night (who tries to program against Dingus Day?!) spent with supporters, friends, fueled by an amazing “Blazing Paddles” cocktail created by The Duck Island Club’s bartender, Song (ask for it during your visit to this hidden gem of a cocktail lounge). The evening was capped with the ‘69 Cuyahoga River Trivia Contest where the winners took home a copy of David & Richard Stradling’s “Where The River Burned”, a deep dive into Cleveland’s social and political scene leading up to the ‘69 fire. Thanks to Ideastream for putting it together. You can test your knowledge of that fire here.
We couldn’t help but wonder what organizers of the first Earth Day thought on the day AFTER the first Earth Day. Now what?!
Share the River’s mission and public motion are built upon four pillars:
the importance and demonstrable positive impact of common sense environmental regulations.
the value of public investments in clean water infrastructure (like NEORSD's Project Clean Lake).
the positive impact of engaged, long-term recreational use of our nations rivers, lakes and streams.
the benefit the above three have on waterfront cities' appeal 1) as a place where people want to work, live and play and 2) as a tourism destination.
The large public turnout for recent events like Rails to Trails Conservancy’s Opening Day for Trails reminds us how public use of greenspaces, trails, rivers and the like for recreation demonstrates to public officials, agencies, philanthropic organizations and media the public hunger and support for those natural experiences. Cleveland is uniquely positioned as a historic, urban tourism destination with an expanding network of off-road trails connecting to main arteries that run along the Cuyahoga River like the Ohio & Erie Canalway that’s currently being extended to downtown Cleveland at Canal Basin Park.
Here are a few suggestions of how you can continue yesterday’s Earth Day vibe:
April 27: The 4th Annual Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race. Is there any better way to enjoy the Cuyahoga River’s resurgence than a whitewater competition in an urban environment? We think not.
Now: Sign up for Western Reserve Rowing Association’s Summer Rowing League. There’s NO better way to experience Cleveland than from 18” above the Cuyahoga River and odds are, after a summer on the river, you’ll become an advocate for the river!
May 11: Canalway Partners Riversweep: Cleveland’s largest done-in-a-day clean-up of the Cuyahoga River corridor.
May 18: River Day - an opportunity to spend some time along the Cuyahoga and its system of wetlands, tributaries and, of course, Lake Erie, where the river ends.
Address our nation’s addiction to plastic by changing YOUR behavior! Campaigns like Ocean Conservancy’s Skip the Straw are admirable but they are the low hanging fruit of the “reduce, reuse and recycle” mantra. Straws are a teeny portion of the single-use plastic pipeline but Skip the Straw DOES start conversations about what else we can do to move needle on reducing plastic consumption. Check out the question we asked Sarah Lowe, the Great Lakes regional coordinator for NOAA's Marine Debris Program during Lake Erie Waterkeeper’s recent Lake Erie Conference. Her answer is a pep-talk for how we can be more mindful and sustainable with our consumption behavior.
June 21-24: Register for the River Network’s River Rally: River Rally provides an inspiring and energy-infused touchpoint for nonprofit groups from across the U.S. and beyond, as well as for agency and foundation representatives, industry innovators, philanthropists, academics, students, and community leaders. It includes over 70 learning opportunities, an awards ceremony, novel social events, and access to thought leaders and change agents.
June 22: Participate in our Blazing Paddle Paddlefest, a public paddleboard, kayak, and canoe celebration of how the Cuyahoga River has risen like a phoenix since the 1969 fire ignited the environmental movement.
No doubt we’ve missed other obvious ways to continue the Earth Day vibe so e-mail us your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to this list!