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April 22, 2013

Local Earth Day responses vary

By Cathy B. Koplen
The Daily Star

---- — Earth Day 2013 will pass without official recognition in much of the Oneonta area.

Several school groups recognize the unofficial holiday, but the city of Oneonta has not marked the occasion with events.

“As far as I am aware, the city has no plans to do anything for Earth Day,” Oneonta Mayor Richard Miller said last week. “Our efforts have been more in line with doing things over the long haul.”

Miller said the city has been continually active in trying to reduce energy consumption and increase sustainability. He referred to the document, “Oneonta 2030,” in which a task force of city residents made recommendations that are intended to make the city a fully sustainable community within 17 years.

The mayor also mentioned efforts intended to make the city energy plant reach an optimum level of efficiency, and the selective timber harvesting and landscaping around Dietz Street parking lot as ways the city of Oneonta is continually focusing on becoming environmentally responsible.

“I am suspicious of celebration when something is done just one day and then nothing is done afterwards,” Miller said. “It is like a committee report that just goes on the shelf and nothing comes of it.”

While Hartwick has no plans to celebrate Earth Day, Media Relations Manager Valerie Capullo said the college has a celebration of arts and the environment planned for May 4 at Pine Lake where activities include music, mural painting and outdoor activities. The event is free and open to the public.

The State University College at Oneonta is celebrating “Green Dragon Week,” which began Thursday and continues through Tuesday, in lieu of a one-day Earth Day event. The 25 different events include concerts, guest speakers, films and exhibits, all aimed at raising environmental awareness. 

“Our sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, is doing something for Green Dragon Week,” said Chelsey Kupferman, a student at SUNY Oneonta. “We will have a table in the quad and we will encourage people to bring in their old and used electronics that they don’t want. We will take them to an e-waste facility.”

Several public schools in the area will use Earth Day as a teaching occasion.

According to Oneonta High School Principal Nancy Osborn, the high school has a week of activities planned for their students.

SaraJane Cipperly, music teacher for Oneonta Middle School and Riverside Elementary, said she is teaching music lessons centering on Earth Day for elementary students. Her lessons include the song “Don’t Throw Your Junk (In My Backyard)” where she will discuss with kindergarten children the importance of picking up after themselves;  “Walk, Run, Ride,” where fourth-graders will learn about using alternative transportation can reduce pollution; and a program in which fifth-graders will create a rap accompaniment for a poem by Bliss Carmen titled “Earth Voices.”

Earth Day was launched in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson and Congressman Pete McCloskey. According to earthday.org, Earth Day 2010 was a time of difficulty due to many factors including “a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community.”