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Founding Environmental Organization Highlights Climate Parallels to COVID-19; Festival Offers Connection and Call to Action from Environmental Thought Leaders

Press Release



updated: Apr 18, 2020 09:28 PDT


Santa Barbara-based Community Environmental Council (CEC) opens its virtual doors at SBEarthDay.org on Wednesday, April 22 with an online festival, #TogetherWeEarthrise Earth Day Live, featuring prominent environmental activists — including former Vice President Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Jeff Bridges, Congressman Salud Carbajal — and renowned musicians like Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.​

The event offers an opportunity for communities to gather despite mass isolation and honor our interconnectedness, our resilience, and the ways we can work together to make the planet a better place for all. 

The irony of the populace at large having to stay home on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day due to the COVID-19 crisis is not lost on the leaders of CEC.

“Things have gone quiet on Planet Earth due to a global pandemic, and I’m profoundly struck how this moment is taking place on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day,” said CEC CEO Sigrid Wright. “The history of Earth Day has striking similarities to the situation we find ourselves in today. Sparked by a catastrophic event in 1969 — the worst oil spill the nation had seen — six miles of California coastline were consumed by oil, shutting down fisheries, tourism and recreation. With no protocols, people attempted to clean up the mess on their own. President Nixon came, standing in nice shoes on oily sand.” Across the country outraged youth, guided by elders, began groups to confront the problem, including the Community Environmental Council, whose first act was to hold a Santa Barbara Earth Day gathering in 1970.

Widely acknowledged as the birthplace of Earth Day, Santa Barbara’s early gatherings were modest and spotty for a couple of decades. In 1990, a new wave of activists revitalized Earth Day globally, and CEC led the way. Santa Barbara became like an Olympic host city, carrying the torch for environmental long-distance athletes, and Santa Barbara Earth Day became one of the country’s largest, with 30,000 or more annual attendees.

“This Earth Day, we will gather separately-together in our online festivals, in solidarity with those keeping our communities safe and healthy. We’ll learn from how quiet things have gotten on planet earth — and perhaps continue to adapt our behaviors once COVID-19 is conquered to remain able to see mountains and cities once shrouded in air pollution. And this Earth Day, we’ll continue to battle the climate crisis,” said Wright.

More information:

History of Earth Day + archival photos, documents

About the Community Environmental Council (CEC)

Since 1970, CEC has incubated and innovated real-life solutions that directly impact climate change. Learn more at CECSB.org.

CEC’s experts are available for comment on diverse environmental topics:  COVID-19 and climate change parallels; food resilience; plastic reduction; green building; clean energy and transportation; climate resilience; and more.

Press Contact: Nicole Wald, [email protected], 805-636-6327

Source: Community Environmental Council