Earthfest 2018 celebrated in the rain

William Turkington, Courier Staff

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A rainy and foggy afternoon hindered the Western Illinois University’s Horn Environmental Learning Project’s annual Earthfest celebration in Chandler Park on Saturday.

The event didn’t get off to a smooth start, with the drum circle being cancelled for fear of the moisture damaging the drums. The weather was looking up in Macomb during the week, with temperatures into the 70s, but the unpredictable Illinois weather reared its ugly head at the worst possible time for the Macomb community.

The festival included tables showcasing charm bracelets and T-shirts, from groups like Friends of Argyle Lake State Park and the Macomb Food Co-Op. The Macomb Food Co-Op is a small grocery store, owned by over 400 members of the local community, which specialize in local, sustainable, organic and fair trade food items.

Professor Gordon Rands serves as the board chairman of the co-op, and was one of two Western professors who delivered a speech at the shortened festival.

“I feel very strongly about protecting the environment,” Rands said. “I hope to remind people that the choices we make about whether or not to vote, and about who to vote for, have real impacts.”

Rands’ presentation talked about some accomplishments from the environmental protection movement over the last 48 years since the first Earth Day in 1970, and also at some of the dismantling of those protections that have occurred in the last 15 months and the long-term dangers they might present.

The second and final performance of the event was a presentation from WIU Professor Bill Knox.

“It was an honor to be asked by the Earthfest organizers to present,” Knox said. “I am writing an essay on a similar theme, so EarthFest gives me the opportunity to try out some ideas I would like to develop further.”

Professor Knox compared the fragility of life support systems on the International Space Station (ISS) with those on Earth. Knox believes that the ISS crew can serve as a model for more responsible utilization for humanity.

“Especially in consumer society, it is important to balance personal desires with the limited capacity of our global air, land, and waters to meet our demands,” Knox said. “Taking a day to assess our impact on the only planet we have –the one that sustains us– can help us to treat it and the people on it with greater respect.”

The afternoon was largely spoiled by unfavorable weather patterns but the spirits of its participants remain vibrant, as they know they have a long way to go to preserve and conserve our environment.

“It’s important to remember that Earthfest has to be more than just one day a year,” Knox said. “We should practice respect for life on Earth every day by our choices to preserve the environment and its resources to improve the quality of the biosphere.”

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