Community members gathered at Boundary Bay Brewery on Friday, April 22 to celebrate Earth Day. The festivities included live music, local beer, food truck catering and opportunities to learn about energy conservation and sustainability.
Senior environmental policy major Julianna Fischer helped organized the event. Fischer said she has served as an energy conservation intern with the City of Bellingham since October of last year.
“Boundary Bay has an Earth Day event every year, and this year in Bellingham is Energy Year, as proclaimed by the mayor,” Fischer said. “Boundary Bay was really receptive to this idea and they just let us make it ours. We got to breathe some new life into it.”Fischer said she reached out to local sustainable organizations and brought them together to share their knowledge of energy with the community.
In addition to vendors, the event included live music from The Elopements and The Real Food Show, an educational entertainment circus-esque act aimed at teaching children about healthy eating.
“I’m really happy with the turnout, everybody seems to be enjoying themselves. The vendors seem to be keeping busy with new people at their tables,” Fischer said. “It’s worth the time of everybody involved.”
Fischer said the most rewarding part of her job is knowing that Bellingham is working together toward the greater good of the planet.
Diana Meeks was a part of the various energy conscious organizations tabling the event, representing Sustainable Connections.
“We partnered with Boundary Bay to help them promote [this event], which they’ve done it for the past couple of years,” Meeks said. “We really wanted to create a family-oriented event to celebrate Earth Day.”
For reducing energy use and raising energy conservation awareness, Bellingham is among 50 cities in America competing for a $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize, according to a press release from the City of Bellevue.
“Bellingham is doing awesome; we’re currently tied for fourth in the state with Bellevue,” Meeks said.
“Specifically Bellingham has an amazingly supportive and progressive community,” Meeks said, “and the participation of the residents, City of Bellingham and utility providers partnering to help make it a success.”
Sustainable Connections’ main goal is to support Bellingham’s local economy.
The organization works with community members, from farms to mechanic shops, to help make Bellingham’s community more successful and sustainable, she said.
Meeks said that Western has given Sustainable Connections much needed support.
“We’ve had so much support from Western , and we’re incredibly grateful. We’re always looking for more people to volunteer if anyone wants to get involved,” she said.
Melissa Elkins, sustainability coordinator for Bellingham’s food co-op, has worked with the co-op for the past 19 years, and this year was her first Earth Day event at Boundary Bay.
Elkins has watched the co-op grow from one store and 60 staff members to three stores and over 270 staff members, she said.
Despite shifts in the market whenever a new grocery store moves into town, Elkins said people in Bellingham are particularly receptive to natural food and supporting local food.
“Being a cooperative presents different advantages and challenges as a business model,” Elkins said. “We’re able to adapt because we reflect what’s going on in our community.”
Elkins said this year she is working to promote the sustainability aspects of the co-op.
“I feel like our co-op really is a good reflection of the care that people who live in Bellingham have for the environment and the support they have for local businesses. It’s a network and a partnership that we feel really strongly about, because it works,” Elkins said.
Elkins said the most rewarding parts of participating in the Earth Day celebration included working with Boundary Bay, another local business that believes in stewardship, and getting the chance to talk to people about the co-op and Bellingham.
Bellingham has a great sense of community and that is really showcased at events like these, Elkins said.