As Earth Day 2009 quickly approaches, Santa Cruz is gearing up to celebrate the big day and uphold its reputation as one of the most environmentally aware cities in the world.

Illustration by Joe Lai
Illustration by Joe Lai

While Earth Day is officially celebrated every year on April 22, the city of Santa Cruz, Ecology Action and other nonprofit organizations will host several events this Saturday in the Benchlands at San Lorenzo Park on Dakota Street. 

Many Santa Cruz city officials are involved with the Earth Day event, with both Supervisor John Leopold and Mayor Cynthia Mathews scheduled to give welcoming speeches. Mathews, who has been an active Earth Day participant in Santa Cruz since its inception in 1970, encourages citizens to participate in helping the earth more than just one day a year.

“Environmental protection and sustainable practices should be part of our consciousness on a daily basis,” Mathews said. “Annual observances and special events like Earth Day help focus public attention, generate support and provide recognition for the good work that’s already being done.”

Peter Weiss, also known as the “Singing Scientist,” will perform for the many children expected to attend the event. His original music teaches children about environmental issues and promotes action and awareness. In addition, a variety of workshops and contests with themes promoting sustainable lifestyle choices will be offered for adults.

Weiss, who is also a chemistry researcher at UC Santa Cruz, emphasized the importance of educating children in a way that’s fun and easy to help the future of the environment. Weiss believes that the largest environmental problem in Santa Cruz is beach contamination, and he seeks to teach kids that recycling and cleaning up local beaches can help solve this problem.

“I specialize in educating children because I have two of my own,” Weiss said, “and I decided that children today are the consumers of tomorrow.”

In today’s growing environmental crisis, Mathews expressed that Earth Day celebrations and festivities are effective approaches to helping the earth as a community.

“There’s no reason why we can’t have fun while conveying an important message,” Mathews said. “If the Earth Day celebration engages people with the issues, then the overall goal has been achieved.”

For those looking for a more proactive way to get involved on Earth Day, there will be a San Lorenzo River clean-up hosted by the local organization Save Our Shores. Participants will have the chance to join together as a community and clean up along the river between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will also be other similar clean-up events throughout the day, including one in the County Building parking lot.

The Santa Cruz Earth Day celebration is a convenient opportunity for students who are new to the area of Santa Cruz to get involved in the city and begin helping our local environment.

Alex Hohenhaus, a first-year and environmental studies major, looks forward to the upcoming 

celebration, which will be her first experience volunteering in Santa Cruz. 

“I have not seen many ways to help the environment and get involved in trash pick-ups,” Hohenhaus said. “I am excited to start meeting local people in Santa Cruz and getting rid of all that trash.”

With the help of more community-building that promotes helping the environment year-round, Santa Cruz can live up to its earth-friendly expectations, Weiss said.

“Most of the community is ‘enlightened’ when it comes to the environment,” he said. “Santa Cruz is a big contributor to the earth [movement], because there is excellent education and we live in a beautiful yet fragile environment.” 


For more info on Earth Day events in Santa Cruz, visit