By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief
DAVIS – It was a half century ago when the first Earth Day actions began, and while many predicted humans could bring about their own destruction because of environmental misdeeds, probably only sci-fi writers would have foreseen the culprit would be a Novel Coronavirus. Or not.
And because of COVID-19, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day – normally marked by large, public and worldwide gatherings – won’t be the same with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
This year, climate activists in Davis, Yolo, Solano, and Sacramento counties have announced they are “joining their voices in song and taking action” from their homes “in defense of a healthier environment.”
Climate Strike Davis, an intergenerational group of people who work for climate justice through street actions, community outreach and political renewal, said it is working around COVID-19.
They’re calling it “The Earth Day Sing Out,” and it’s slated for April 22, from 12-1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m., and “throughout the day whenever people want to sing.”
“Community members are invited to learn and practice from a collection of over 30 Earth Day songs selected by an intergenerational group of climate activists. Songs ranging from uplifting to spiritual to kid-friendly in nature are available on the Climate Strike Davis website (climatestrikedavis.com) organized as an online songbook with lyrics and recordings. Seven songs were chosen to unify singers that are sheltering in place but want to express their unity with this global movement,” organizers said.
“Music, art and political action are time-tested ways for societies to make sense of hard times and change,” said artist Danielle Fodor. “More than ever, people need to feel connected to each other and nurture our mental health. Through singing we can express a range of emotions including joy, sorrow, compassion and solidarity.”
“The irony of this time is that while we shelter in our homes, this experience of fighting to keep humanity safe from the Coronavirus has unified us more than ever. Through lifting our voices in unison, we can express this interconnectedness,” said Hannah de la Calle with Sunrise Movement Davis, a student-led movement advocating for a Green New Deal.
Organizers explained that the project’s partner, the Davis Independent Music Initiative, is collecting funds to sponsor local musicians to record Earth Day songs released from now to Whole Earth Festival weekend, May 9, using the #earthdaysingout hashtag on social media.
They are asking for donations (paypal.me/DavisIMI) to support local musicians who’ve lost work in this crisis.
Organizers said musicians, and others “who like to sing, are invited to make a short video to share on YouTube, either from the songbook or their own earth song, and share with a call for action and the hashtags #earthdaysingoutdavis, #earthdaysingout, and #earthday2020. KDRT-LP at 95.7 FM will feature the recordings for folks to sing-along at home.”
On Earth Day, Davis community members said they are launching #Greenisforgratitude — a project to express appreciation to public health and service workers on the frontlines of responding to the pandemic.
Green ribbons will be tied to light poles and trees along with visual messages of “love, compassion, and gratitude.” Residents can request a ribbon online at firstname.lastname@example.org and a sanitized #greenisforgratitude kit will be home delivered..
Organizers also point out that many lessons can be drawn from the political response to COVID-19 for tackling the looming climate crisis.
Sunrise activist Esme Hassell-Thean insists that “Now is the most challenging but important time to voice our concerns and communicate our needs to elected officials. The solutions aren’t simple, but a People’s Bailout and Green New Deal would address people’s most pressing needs and pave the way for a future for all.”
A series of workshops on the connectedness between the COVID and climate crises starts on Sunday, April 19 at 2 p.m. via Zoom, sponsored by Climate Reality and Sunrise Davis. More information can be found on the Climate Strike Davis website.
“We’ve planned these solidarity actions to shine the light of love and joy on each other through song and show gratitude and support for all our COVID- 19 frontline heroes — from nurses and doctors to mothers, fathers, friends and youth — those modeling today the values our communities must reflect tomorrow,” said organizers.
This celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day is organized by Climate Strike Davis, Sunrise Movement Davis, Extinction Rebellion Sacramento, Cool Davis, Yolo Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, Davis Independent Music Initiative, Mothers Out Front and the Climate Reality Project Corps at UC Davis. More information at www.climatestrikedavis.com.