SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—For the first time in four years the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival was back at Alameda Park.
This is one of the longest-running earth day celebrations in the country and one of the largest on the west coast.
Santa Barbara holds a reputation as a pioneer in the environmental movement and the birthplace of earth day.
“Earth Day was born in Santa Barbara. Out of the oil spill in 1969, that really sparked the modern environmental movement nationwide… So we have a special responsibility here to make sure that we honor that day,” said CEC Director of Climate Education Kathi King.
Decades later, this event continues to draw tens of thousands of visitors including celebrity activist Jane Fonda.
For John Bair, seeing Jane Fonda felt full circle.
“Well, I’ve been working on a ranch where Jane Fonda hired me in 1977. And the place is like my family. I planted trees when they were two foot tall and they're now 40 foot tall,” said John Bair.
Kathi King says having someone with celebrity status speak to the community helps re-energize the environmental movement.
“When you see Jane Fonda, who has had so many different types of influence socially and politically throughout her career, really focusing in on climate. It's amazing. It really does give everybody a boost that somebody of this stature is putting their whole focus on climate change. It's great for everyone,” said King.
Festival-goers enjoyed everything from the over 200 eco-friendly exhibitors and the live music to the green car show and kid’s zone.
“All sorts of groups are here and to be able to find how we can collaborate together and then bring a voice that tells a full spectrum picture to the policymakers can be incredibly powerful,” said Clean Coalition Founder Craig Lewis.
With the tagline educate, inspire, act, activists hope that festival-goers will have at least one conversation that will get them to rethink their relationship with Mother Earth.
“I'm going to go refill my soap containers instead of continually buying plastic bottles of soap, or I'm going to get on the mailing list for Planned Parenthood or whatever they do. We hope that there's at least one action that they take with them that affects their lives going forward,” said King.
The lesson that many activists here tried to impart is that each individual has the capacity to make a world of difference, but there is great power in solidarity.
“We need events like this that that that raises up our spirits, reminds us that we're not alone, that we could do it together,” said Environmental Activist Roberto Vargas.
“Be kind to the earth because this is the only one we have,” said Bair.
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