Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group was one of the top sponsors for 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival at Bronson Park

Peter Sinclair at 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival

Peter Sinclair was keynote speaker at 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival in Bronson Park. Photo courtesy of Climate Denial Crock of the Week website.

People who came to the 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival at Bronson Park – or stayed away – expecting a lot of gloom-and-doom about the Earth’s future either didn’t know that Peter Sinclair would be the keynote speaker or didn’t know much about him. Sinclair, public speaker, “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” blogger, and prolific videographer as greenman3610, pulled no punches about how real climate change is. And it’s not a coming threat. It’s already here. Sinclair enumerated the many proofs that climate change is already upon us and wreaking havoc.

But his main message was all about resilience and resistance. The new administration’s disregard for truth and justice, and its promises to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, revive the coal business, serve the science-denial agenda, and unburden big business of all those cumbersome regulations has prompted marches, town hall protests, and other displays of public resistance. Our resistance will save us from our own extinction.

“Make a Promise” was the theme for the 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival at Bronson Park

"Make a Promise" banner at 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival

The Promise Tree

Promise Tree at 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival

The Promise Tree

The Promise Tree that stood in the center of Bronson Park symbolized the resistance that Peter Sinclair predicted.

Shown here as the festival was getting underway, the tree was covered with layers of leaves from roots to tip-top by the end of the day. Each leaf was a signed promise to the Earth.

Some promised to hound their representatives and other officials to do right by the Earth. Some committed to becoming more diligent about recycling or saving energy. Some made a promise to the Earth that they’d be more active with their local environmental group.

Hundreds of fighters against climate change and against the damage we are doing to the Earth were on hand, staffing tables for dozens of organizations that have intensified their commitment to the Earth and to the people most threatened by recent policy changes. No clear attendance estimates have been published, but SWMG Chair Mark Miller estimated that 950 participated in the Kalamazoo March for Science in support of the national march. Kalamazoo’s science marchers, including Mark and many other Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group members, reached Bronson Park at about 3:30. Mark’s report on Facebook said:

My heart is full of gratitude tonight at the wonderful Earth Day event, the result of long planning and great participation from such a multitude of participants. The March for Science left from the WMU flagpoles and had about 950, the whole event easily twice that. We represented Sierra Club and signed up many new members. This is why I love this community.

KEVA members at 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival

From left: Sierra Club Executive Committee member Ray Mickus with KEVA members Mike Walenga, Glenn Griffith, Kim Sandefur, and Sierra Club Executive Committee member and KEVA Chair Ben Brown.

The Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association seemed to draw the most attention.

Sierra Club SW MI Group proudly supports the Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association!

The KEVA people had a number of local electric car owners on hand to show off their vehicles. The hundreds who stopped by KEVA’s table and checked out the cars learned that they’re much more affordable than people imagine. Not only are their price tags in line with comparable internal-combustion models, but they have benefits far beyond the most important feature – the elimination of tailpipe emissions. An all-electric car…

KEVA had electric cars lined up on Academy Street.

  • …saves its owner money, time, and hassle.
    • No oil, air, or gasoline filters to change.
    • No oil changes or adding or changing fluid for transmissions or differentials.
    • No maintenance or repairs for exhaust manifold, exhaust pipe, catalytic converter, EGR valve, muffler, tailpipe, spark plugs, spark plug wires, timing belt, pistons, piston rings, valves, head gasket, fuel-injection/carburetion system.
  • …is very quiet.
  • …gives its owner independence from gasoline and its unpredictable prices.
  • …can provide emergency backup home electricity in case of a power outage.

Scenes from 2017 Kalamazoo Science March and Earth Day “Make a Promise” festival at Bronson Park

All photos (except Peter Sinclair, top) by Bette Pierman, Mark Miller, Glenn Griffith, Bruce Brown for Sierra Club SW Michigan Group and Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association.

Congratulations and a huge THANKS to Dr. Allen Webb and the hard-working team he put together to give Kalamazoo this terrific Earth Day celebration!

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