Saturday, April 26, 2008

San Diego Earth Day 2008... meh

Like any good green-type would do, I attended the San Diego Earth Day 2008 event on the 20th of this month (4/20, get it?). It was held in Balboa Park along the museum walk, a beautiful place to have any type of outdoor event. I heard about it from a friend who described it as a popular San Diego event that was not to be missed (not those exact words). The girl and I decided to spend a bit of our minimal free time mingling with the locals and seeing what this whole E-Day thing was about. By the end of it, we were glad to get out of the house but the whole thing was basically a let-down.

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - Stilt Walker
We got there right about when it started so, thankfully, we missed the bulk of the crowds (and the parking nightmare). There was a parade gearing up with all sorts of things ranging from cute little kids dressed in random, unrelated costumes to the stilt-walker above (a early-teens girl who appeared to have unnaturally long legs to begin with). We made our way down the promenade and saw booth after booth with everything ranging from organic lotion to investment options to window coverings. I was immediately struck by how unrelated to the earth and the green movement that these booths were. To give you an idea, check out this list of Earth Day exhibitors that were at the Park that day. Just a few generally non-green-related groups were:

AIG AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE & ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY
AIG Financial Advisor
Animal Protection & Rescue League
Animals Asia Foundation
Atheist Coalition
B "N" B Kettle Corn
Back Country Land Trust
Baha'i Faith


Listen, I like atheists and kettle corn just as much as the next guy but they really have little to do with Earth Day.

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - a strange succulent plant that I affectionately nicknamed the cockplant... but I digress...

We made our way down the promenade and ended up in front of the MoMA. We paused for a moment, just long enough to be accosted by the "are you registered to vote" crew. I gave my rote "..mumble, mumble..." and moved on.

EDCO waste management had a neat eye-catcher...

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - mini EDCO garbage truck
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - mini EDCO garbage truckAfter chatting with a nice woman about some premium acai juice (bottled deceptively but creatively in wine bottles), we decided to make our way toward the west end of the park, hoping to run into the friends we were supposed to be meeting. On the way, a big, colorful sign caught my eye. No surprise that this happened because it was the same old "shock and awe" anti-choice assholes with that tired picture of the mutilated baby's head held with tongs (I tried to find the image but then I realized that I didn't really want to link to their site). Truth be told, this was the second ridiculous display of poor taste we had seen that day in just 30 minutes.

With no booth and no tact but an equal right to be there, a group of anti-choice sign-holders had invaded the Earth Day event. Holding giant images of late-term aborted fetuses in an attempt to sicken everyone into making a social and political choice is a boring, asinine way to make an unnecessary point. I'm really going to fly off-topic here so I'll say this: they were not harming anyone and they were not screaming and shouting but there should have been some kind of exhibitor restriction. If they want to spread their message they need to do so with their own booth, not upstaging the efforts of the people around them who are working towards a different cause. Maybe we could have a "Ban Legal Medical Procedures Day" and they can show up and wave their silly signs at like-minded people.

ANYways...

Right after that, we stumbled upon the San Diego recycling department who had this hilarious recycling bin costume on display (but no one to wear it... Anna said no):

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - San Diego Recycling department recycle bin costumeI had a few questions about residential recycling and talked to a very helpful guy who explained the process and how it's going to be mandatory in 2010 for all housing units in San Diego to have recycle bins. What I didn't know is that landlords have to pay to have recycling picked up. I thought the materials that get picked up were finally as valuable as the cost required to pick them up. It shines a light on the reason why we don't have recycling bins (our landlord said that before we moved in, our apartment complex [of 12 units] had "lost the privilege of having recycling bins because people were throwing away the wrong things." hrmmmm). I guess that's yet another bill to look forward to when we have a house.

After that we made our way past a few more anti-choicers and security guards who were trying their damnedest to thwart their plans; the whole scene was ridiculous.

We signed a petition to raise diesel truck efficiency (relating to interstate transport), saw a neat both on green remodeling, and then made our way to the Aircraft/Automobile museum section. I was expecting a really great display of eco-vehicles, both home-made and manufactured. After our experience that day and my disappointing volunteer experience previously (at the Automobile Museum), I'm not sure why I had my hopes so high.

There were things to see, no doubt, but it was maybe 9 or 10 vehicles, most of which did not have their owners/builders nearby. There was nothing from Zap/Zebra (one of which attended the previously mentioned event), no Smart car dealers (there is one in San Diego) and no plug-in hybrid exhibits (like the one at SDSU and the Santa Monica event I went to).

I liked the blue Toyota converted to all-electric...

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - Toyota truck converted to electric drive EV
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - Toyota truck converted to electric drive EV
... and the German-built "Twike" was very interesting...

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - German-built Twike vehicle
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - German-built Twike vehicle
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - German-built Twike vehicle
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - German-built Twike vehicle
...and I had to have love for an EV rabbit convertable ("Da Lectric Spidey")...

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - VW Volkswagen convertible Rabbit converted to electric drive EV
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - VW Volkswagen convertible Rabbit converted to electric drive EV...but the others were just unremarkable. A "bamboo van" (powered by bamboo somehow, I guess)...

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - bamboo van
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - bamboo van... an electric-converted relic...

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - old school car converted to electric drive... and this:

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - strange space-craft looking thing
San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - strange space-craft looking thingPhoenix showed up with a little utility truck that was neat:

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - Phoenix utility truck... but it was really a let-down.

Events like this are a perfect way to get the attention of a big group of people. Not just any people, though, people who might be open to changing their lifestyle a little (or a lot) to make the right choices for our planet. This is a VERY important opportunity, one that shouldn't be taken lightly. The event was set in a great location and the turn-out was really big, even in the morning. But, in the case of sustainable transportation, people were left empty-handed. There is no action to be taken, nothing to do about it, nowhere to go. There were a million and one products to buy but nothing you could do to change your MPG or method of transportation (that's not entirely true... there was an MTS booth as well).

It's hard to say who to blame for this - if that's what needs to be done. Maybe EarthWorks busted their butts trying to get people out there with no response. Maybe they trusted someone else would do it. Maybe they did nothing. Whatever happened, this was a lost opportunity. At the very least I would hope a few green-conscious car dealers in the area would be available to ask questions and hawk their hybrids or sub-compacts. Instead, there were a few tinkerers and their projects drowning in a sea of exhibitors that may or may not have anything to do with saving the environments.

All I know is that I came there for the green cars and left with a few fliers, a sample of Sun Chips, and a nice tan.

Oh, and a picture of a Rolls Royce parked on Park Ave with a bottle of Grey Poupon in the console. Bravo!

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - Rolls Royce Grey Poupon

San Diego Earth Day 2008 at Balboa Park - Rolls Royce Grey Poupon

2 comments:

Stephanie Lisi said...

oh joshua....it was like we were having a conversation. I agree about the whole earth day was a disrespect to the environment. I can't imagine how much paper was wasted on pamphlets. Crazy, the old earth day used to be one big community picnic with people drumming, eating and smokin herb, oh the good ol'days.

Josh C said...

And that's an important question... how green is the event? Is the waste worth the message? People aren't willing to think that far into it. That's why I sometimes get a bit disenchanted with the whole thing sometimes...