The 21st annual Earth Day San Luis Obispo will take place at El Chorro Regional Park April 23. 

Earth Day SLO, which takes April 23 at El Chorro Regional Park, will feature a variety of events for attendees, including musical acts. Courtesy photo.

This year’s theme is “Growing the Village,” which focuses on creating a community both ecologically and economically prosperous. Hosted by Earth Day Alliance, more than 100 exhibitors and sponsors will have different displays on what people can do to be sustainable as well as what businesses and individuals are already doing.

There will be a children’s section with different activities for children to learn how to think more sustainably, a line up of four musical acts, local food, speakers and tours of the botanical and healing herb gardens.

To help support a sustainable community, San Luis Obispo Regional Transit will donate its buses for the day so anyone can ride free to the event. Every hour, the double-decker bus will be departing from downtown to El Chorro Regional Park.

Director of Earth Day SLO 2011, Sandra Marshall, has been involved with the event since 1994. Earth Day started April 22, 1970 when 20,000 million environmentalists wanted to create change, Marshall said.

“We are completely a grassroots, volunteer non-profit organization all done by inspiration,” Marshall said. “Now Earth Day is celebrated around the world. Most people observe it in school, people will do small rural events to recognize it locally and in the big cities they have big events. Ours is medium and we want to make it bigger because it would educate more people about what we are doing here to be green locally.”

There are still many environmental problems today that need better regulation, Marshall said.

“Number one issue this year on a local level is Diablo Canyon,” she said. “There’s also the debate on whether or not to have solar plants in exchange for destroying the habitat of the native animal and plant life.  People are also concerned with what’s going to happen to our oceans after what happened in Japan. This day is a time for everybody to wake up, come out and enjoy the day — and be active. Some of the younger generation is already tuned into what it means to be environmentally active, but everyone could learn something new.”

Businesses, community members and Cal Poly students are all contributing to make this a successful event. Architecture freshman Danielle Aspitz is applying her major by building an information booth completely out of recycled materials, including cardboard, water bottles and weaved plastic bags for fabric.

“Originally I was just planning on helping with phone calls and volunteering but then I told (Marshall) that I was an architecture major and I explained some of the projects I’ve done,” Aspitz said. “We put two and two together, and she asked if I could design the booth. I feel like I’ve won the lottery of internships.”

Prior to this year, the information booth had always been an idea — something to construct if there was time to design and there never has been, Aspitz said.

Aspitz found out about the event through a flier posted in the lobby of her dorm that read “Eco-SLO Earth Day.”

“I have always been an environmentalist and wanted to protect the earth and recycle — I am for the cause,” Aspitz said. 

In addition to booths, speakers, tours, displays and presentations, bands will play throughout the event. Zongo All-Stars is returning this year and will perform from 3 to 5 p.m.

The band consists of seven members who play the alto and baritone saxophones, wood and bamboo flutes, a trumpet, electric bass and guitar, steel drums and congos. The band brands its music as “CalCubano,” a blend of Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean, funk, reggae and calypso elements.

Paul Irving, a trumpet player and business manager for the Zongo All-Stars, said the band’s music complements outdoor events well.

“We’re a band that’s well-suited for outdoor events,” Irving said. “We bring a lot of people out because we have a wide demographic of listeners. You can come out to our concerts and it’s very danceable music where you’ll see a three-year-old boogieing next to grandma and everyone in between having a good time together.”

Other musical acts include singer and songwriter Jill Knight, Guy Budd & the Gypsy Souls and Up in the Air Band.

Journalism junior Nicole Welch is one of the public relation representatives for Earth Day SLO 2011. She has seen positive feedback from social media networks such as Facebook.

“People have been commenting that they are really excited to come out,” Welch said. “It’s been around for a while so we’re expecting a great crowd turnout. It’s all about having your everyday be more sustainable and what we can do at an individual basis as community members to be more sustainable.”

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