EarthFest – “Restore Our Earth” Virtual Earth Day Event
In addition to hosting Reflecting on Earth Day, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley participated in another Earth Day event. This one was led by Earth Day Every Day and presented by James Madison University’s Bluestone Communications. In a livestreamed event, the students marched through the campus ending near JMU’s famed Spirit Rock. Before students painted their Earth Day thoughts on the rock, they offered representatives of several local environmental organizations, among them CAAV and 50by25Harrisonburg, the opportunity to present information about the work they are doing.
The graphics below illustrate what CAAV’s and 50by25’s spokesperson, Luciano Benjamin, said. The message was: “The situation is urgent, worldwide action is needed and is occurring, Virginia is acting, and local action is happening in Harrisonburg.”
CAAV is a sponsor of 50by25Harrisonburg and one of our steering committee members, Joy Loving, actively participates in that group’s activities.
Click on a poster image below for a larger pdf version of these graphics.
These were designed by Doug Hendren of 50by 25Harrisonburg with content help from Joy Loving with CAAV and 50by25Harrisonburg.
PRESS RELEASE: Give Solar Launches Solar Seed Fund for Central Valley Habitat for Humanity
Harrisonburg, VA – Give Solar, a Harrisonburg-based program of New Community Project, announces the launch of a revolving Solar Seed Fund benefitting Central Valley Habitat for Humanity homeowners. The Solar Seed Fund will pay for installing solar systems on all new Habitat-built homes that have a roofline that is appropriate for solar.
Central Valley Habitat for Humanity (CVHFH) is a local non-profit that partners with low-income families in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to build safe, decent, and affordable housing. Their program works with individuals that may not qualify to become homeowners through a conventional mortgage or that live in substandard housing.
In Virginia, 75% of households suffer from an unaffordable electricity burden. In addition to encouraging solar on the homes they build, Central Valley Habitat for Humanity also builds to EarthCraft standards that improve energy efficiency and further reduce the energy burden to homeowners.
On Monday, Feb. 15, the Board of Directors of Central Valley Habitat for Humanity voted unanimously to support the effort to raise $100,000 for the Solar Seed Fund in the next year.
When successful, the Solar Seed Fund will provide upfront funding to pay for the installation of 4 kilowatt (12 solar panels) solar systems on newly built Habitat homes in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Give Solar partners with Green Hill Solar, a Harrisonburg-based solar installation company, to install the systems on Habitat homes. The Solar Seed Fund will make it possible to install 20 solar systems on Habitat homes in the next five years.
The project aims to address the challenge of accessibility of solar energy to low-income households. Most low-income homeowners do not have the financial wherewithal to afford the upfront cost of solar energy. This project will draw on the fund to pay the $5000 upfront cost of solar and will allow the homeowner to repay this cost over the term of their mortgage (20-30 years). The money that is repaid by the homeowner will be returned to the Solar Seed Fund to pay for future solar installations on Habitat homes.
Solar will allow Habitat homeowners to save approximately $40 each month on their electricity bills by generating their own electricity. After paying $20 monthly to repay the cost of the solar system, homeowners will experience a net savings of $20 per month or half-price electricity.
In January, Kline May Realty announced a donation of $5000 to sponsor this project. Solar United Neighbors of Virginia, a statewide solar advocacy non-profit, will promote the Solar Seed Fund within their networks in Virginia. Give Solar welcomes inquiries from other potential non-profit, business, and corporate sponsors.
The mission of Give Solar is to assist low-income homeowners and non-profits to gain access to solar energy through organizing crowdfunding campaigns and solar barn-raisings. Since 2016, Give Solar has partnered with other solar advocates to add 291.4 kilowatts of solar power to our local electric grid.
Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source that reduces reliance on burning fossil fuels for electricity generation. Solar panels convert natural sunlight into usable electricity for buildings and work to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Advantages to adding solar panels to a building include saving on your monthly electric bill, reducing your carbon footprint, earning tax credits and rebates, and increasing the resale value of your home.
Contact: Jeff Heie, (540)656-6841 or jeffheie [at] gmail.com
Please join us to beautify downtown Harrisonburg. Rain or Shine. Touchless check-in. Families welcome. We will be set up outside Pale Fire Brewery, 217 N. Liberty St. We will provide trash bags, safety vests and guidance on where to go. Participants should wear masks, social distance, dress appropriately with proper footwear and protective gloves. Bring your own snacks and water. Prize drawings at info table.
CO-SPONSORS: Earth Day Every Day of Harrisonburg VA and Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
“HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – We all know that Thanksgiving follows Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, but an environmental organization is hosting its first annual “Green Friday” event on Nov. 27 in downtown Harrisonburg.”
The video series, held through EDED’s Facebook page, allows community members to view videos from speakers and contribute their own personal “One Minute for Earth” video. EDED encourages anyone interested in speaking in their own video to reach out to EDED using the contact information at the end of the release.
Karen Ryder Lee, a member of both EDED and CAAV, proposed the project to the two groups. A volunteer team spearheaded the project with a goal of collaborating with a diverse group of more than 40 speakers from the community.
“We want to mobilize eco-minded people to register and vote,” says Lee. “By presenting down-to-earth people everyone can identify with, telling their stories of environment care and its impact on their candidate evaluation, we know we can encourage the valley to vote for the issues they care about.”
“The campaign is on its way to exceeding hopes,” adds Lee. “We expected the community speakers to touch as many as 2,000 people in presenting the case for electing pro-environment leaders into office across all levels. As of October 13, there have been 7,800 views for the 27 videos posted to date.”
Each speaker’s video offers quick access to a page with links to the official election information one needs, all in one place, for Augusta, Rockingham, Page and Shenandoah County areas. Links to the candidates’ sites are given so that voters can easily research their environmental platforms.
“The mission of the campaign,” EDED founder Elly Swecker says, “is to remind viewers why environmental issues are so important, encourage them to educate themselves about the candidates, and vote for those who make environment and climate change a priority.”
Some of the speakers sharing videos through the series include: Georgi Tomisato (farmer and president of Shenandoah Green based in Augusta County), Clymer and Kurtz (a Harrisonburg-based songwriting and performing duo) and Scottie Pendleton (physicist and faculty member at JMU).
Earth Day Every Day of Harrisonburg is a nonprofit environmental organization with the goal of reducing plastic waste in the Harrisonburg, VA community. Founder Elly Swecker began the initiative in 2019 in an effort to educate individuals about environmental sustainability practices and empower them by providing practical events and resources.
Contact: ellyswecker [at] gmail [dot] com or 540-810-1929
“Climate activist groups in the Shenandoah Valley have teamed up for a project collecting video testimonials. It’s an effort to urge voters to consider the environment as they vote in this election season. WMRA’s Calvin Pynn reports.”
“A Harrisonburg-based coalition that focused on environmental issues during this fall’s political campaigns is now harnessing momentum from its “One Minute for Earth” video campaign and is shifting its focus to future activism. “
We wanted to share with you the full calendar of events happening from September 28th- October 4th, so that you can mark your calendars!
Each morning of the tour you will be receiving an email with us, where you will also be able to log into the session(s) that you want to attend that day. You’ll also be able to view all of the solar open house and tour videos on demand starting September 28th. If you’re unable to attend any of these sessions, they will all be recorded and available after the tour.
Here is what is coming up!
Monday, September 28th, Electric Vehicle Day: Seen that new Nissan Leaf or sleek Tesla on the road and wondered how it drove? Wonder what the inside was like? Join us for a panel discussion, where you will get to hear more from EV owners about their cars and even get a live tour of a few different models of EV’s!
Tuesday, September 29th, Solar Homeowner Day: Been curious about solar energy but are tired of googling your questions? Been craving talking to a real person about their experience with solar? You won’t want to miss out on Tuesday!
Wednesday, September 30th: Solar Business Day: Own a small business and looking to go solar? Want to hear about the solar commitments of companies such as Clif? Join us for a morning conversation with small business owners who have successfully gone solar and in the afternoon hear from major players in the corporate sustainability world.
Thursday, October 1st: Solar Schools Day: We are blown away by the commitment of many young people to create a better future powered by solar! Join us to learn more about solar energy and schools leading the way!
Friday, October 2nd: Community building Day: Let’s keep building an equitable clean energy economy together! Black and Brown communities are disportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. We need to be having the conversations about why this is and how we can ensure as we transition to a clean energy economy that it works for everyone!
Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) has been fighting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) corruption in many outspoken and creative ways for the last six years. In June 2020 they released this video explaining the need to transform FERC from a tool of the oil and gas industry into a regulatory body serving all members of the general public and our needs for clean water and air, and a stable climate.
Watch the video by clicking on the image above. You will find some local Shenandoah Valley anti-pipeline heroes in the mix!
“In a world where the impacts of fossil-fuel induced climate change are so clear, and so devastating, it’s absolutely necessary that FERC be replaced with an agency dedicated to an active and just transition off fossil fuels.” – Beyond Extreme Energy
Artist Statement on Metamorphosis by Charlotte Shristi
In the process of finding photographs of downtown Harrisonburg and painting a fairly realistic imagined scene of court square in the future, the global COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. My painted vision of Harrisonburg’s downtown included buildings with roof-top gardens and solar farms, light-rail train, reforested pedestrian mall surrounding the square, open-air farmers’ market and café seating and a park with children playing on the shore of a small pond.
However, this painting wasn’t finished no matter how much I played with the details! Two additional images wanted to become focal points for the painting. The details of what a sustainable future looks like, became secondary to the how, of that transformation!
I had recently read an article* about the pandemic (and other crisis) offering an opportunity to be understood as a portal leading to transformation… a chrysalis. The pandemic has exposed the ways our society and our belief systems fail so many people, often the most vulnerable. Can we reimagine a social structure that includes and cares for all people as well as the planet whose life-support system makes our existence possible? What would this metamorphosis look like?
The other image comes from a number of prophesies of Indigenous American Nations. The Eagle and the Condor flying together represents the coming together of different people groups who need to share their knowledge and work together.
“When the Eagle and Condor once again fly wing tip to wing tip, it will herald a time of partnership, love and healing, and the Earth will come back into balance. When the People of the Eagle help the Condor soar again, they will cease making the choices that are destroying the Earth, and their own sense of isolation, unhappiness and stress will vanish. Together, they will make a new design for the children and for future generations, for the good of all life everywhere”**
The national/international mobilization to end police racism and brutality had not yet happened, but I see this vision of Eagle and Condor being relevant….calling forth transformation of systems of power and exploitation. The same domination world view leads to both the oppression of peoples and exploitation of the planet. We are in desperate need of a shift to a partnership world view where the well-being of the whole is valued, where black and brown lives are valued. Those struggling for a livable future, should also be struggling for a livable present and vice versa.
OASIS Fine Art & Craft, an artists’ co-operative with a storefront gallery in downtown Harrisonburg, helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 by featuring a collection of original art created in response to a call for works reflecting on “Visions of a Sustainable Valley.”
With the encouragement of local grassroots environmental organizations Earth Day Every Day Harrisonburg (EDED) and the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV), Barbara Camph, OASIS artist and EDED team member, and Karen Lee, of EDED and CAAV, took up the challenge of creating this invitational show. Their efforts, combined with other OASIS artists, gave rise to a remarkable and diverse collection of creative works meant to inspire, educate and help viewers imagine a way toward resiliency in the face of growing environmental and societal threats.
EDED, formed in 2019, is bringing local attention to the crisis of plastic pollution and the waste inherent in single use plastic. CAAV members are working on promoting the 50by25 campaign, urging more renewable energy and increased energy efficiency in Harrisonburg. Members of these two groups felt our area artists could offer a valuable means of instilling efforts like theirs into the fabric of our community. And be a great way to honor Earth Day.
“Visions of a Sustainable Valley” was generously sponsored by James McHone Jewelry, Earth Day Every Day Harrisonburg, Hess Financial, Eugene Stoltzfus Architects, and Steven Toyota. The works were judged and prizes awarded to three winners and a “People’s Choice” award pick.
Additionally, Barbara worked with art teacher Christopher Michael at East Rockingham High School late last year to have his advanced art students illustrate the harmful effects of plastic waste. Their works served as an inspiration for a “Plastic Waste Blues” public art mosaic for downtown Harrisonburg. OASIS displayed the students’ work along with those of the artists contributing to “Visions of a Sustainable Valley.”
The 23 works by 10 local artists comprising “Visions of a Sustainable Valley” and 15 works by 14 art students for “Plastic Waste Blues” were displayed at OASIS throughout April and May 2020, but because of COVID-19 shutdowns, few people were able to see the art in person. Thanks to OASIS and EDED efforts, these works were available for virtual viewing on Facebook including an opportunity to vote for the “People’s Choice” award. The opening reception planned for April’s First Friday had to be canceled and with it the means of publicizing and giving the project the recognition and attention it deserved.
We acknowledge OASIS Fine Art & Craft for the fine work of its organizers. Just putting on an invitational show is a feat in itself–a major effort with lots of steps and coordination. They responded to CAAV’s invitation and pulled it all off beautifully, including inventing Harrisonburg’s first virtual art exhibit in the pandemic!
Karen Ryder Lee, Earth Day Every Day, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, and contributing artist
In hopes that these works can be more widely viewed and appreciated for their contributions to the sustainability conversation, photos of the “Visions of a Sustainable Valley” projects, together with commentary from some of the artists, are featured below. Please find photos of the student works and more about the “Plastic Waste Blues” project here.
CAAV is working to broaden our own, and our community’s, understanding of the importance of resiliency on an individual and a collective basis. Resiliency includes sustainability, adaptation, and mitigation. Education is critical for needed action. Art is a wonderful way to do that and we sincerely thank OASIS for their role. We believe what follows helps illustrate useful concepts and ideas. Enjoy!
Joy Loving, ClimateAction Alliance of the Valley liaison for the 50by25 campaign
Artists were asked to create art which depicted our valley in the future. Some chose to show valley scenes which are beautiful and hopefully will remain so. Some chose to show sustainable practices which will maintain the beauty in our valley. – OASIS
1st Place Winner
Four Seasons in the Valley
2nd Place Winner
My thoughts when deciding to create this piece for the show: Things that we often take for granted but shouldn’t. Like the beauty of the changing seasons in our valley. Keep it green and keep it clean, that we, and future generations, may continue to enjoy the seasonal changes and renewals in the Shenandoah Valley.
Natalie Darling Four Seasons in the Valley Second Place Award
On a gorgeous sunny and cool spring day we went on a ‘field trip’ to visit some places of interest in Nelson County and take some pictures. On the way home, we drove north on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopped at the Ravens Roost Overlook to view the scene.
I have always been attracted to the many folds in the Blue Ridge Mountains and this was a great location to photograph them.
This image is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image made from three separate photographs taken at three different exposures.
We enjoy numerous sunsets near our home but usually we are not up early enough to see summer sunrises. On this day I woke early. When I looked out the front windows I grabbed my camera and ran into our front yard to capture this sunrise. I had photographed an almost identical sunrise two years earlier.
My wife and I were out for a drive one sunny afternoon and we saw a dark cloud with ominous-looking wisps descending from it. We drove toward it for about 15 minutes looking for a place to stop and photograph it. The picture was taken in Rockingham County along Sky Road, near Greenmount.
“When the Eagle and Condor once again fly wing tip to wing tip, it will herald a time of partnership, love and healing, and the Earth will come back into balance. When the People of the Eagle help the Condor soar again, they will cease making the choices that are destroying the Earth, and their own sense of isolation, unhappiness and stress will vanish. Together, they will make a new design for the children and for future generations, for the good of all life everywhere.” – Carol Schaefer, Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet
Excerpted from Charlotte’s artist statement about this work. Read her complete statement here.
Please find photos of the student works also featured at this show and more about the “Plastic Waste Blues” project here.
OASIS Fine Art & Craft partnered with Earth Day Every Day (EDED) to create a public art mosaic. The theme of the mosaic is the damage caused by single use plastics.
We started the process by meeting with the East Rockingham High School Advanced Art class on October 7, 2019. Elly Swecker, founder of EDED, presented the students with a summary of damage done by single use plastics, as well as alternatives to the plastic. Christopher Michael, teacher of the class, and Barbara Camph, OASIS artist, asked the students to create art work representing either concept.
The students and Mr. Michael produced fabulous, unique and imaginative pieces of art. The students’ art work was created in October and part of November, and used by Barbara Camph and other OASIS artists as inspiration for the mosaic design. Note that the students’ art work was displayed at OASIS Fine Art & Craft for two months.
In January 2020, the actual mosaic was started in the upstairs mezzanine of OASIS. The majority of the mosaic is art glass but also incorporates plastic waste. The mosaic was grouted and protected with a UV coating.
The mosaic is framed with a black steel frame fabricated by Excel Steel. It was installed in May 2020 on the East Market Street side of the Newman-Ruddell building with permission from the building owners, Diane and Jim Orndoff.
– Barbara Camph, OASIS artist, Earth Day Every Day leadership team member
In hopes of giving these creative works continued attention and impact, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to feature photos of Christopher Michael’s East Rockingham High School Advanced Art student pieces below.
City of Trash
These works were displayed at OASIS Fine Art & Craft in April and May 2020 along with an invitational show on “Visions of a Sustainable Valley” in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. More about “Visions of a Sustainable Valley” along with photos of the collection here.
If you didn’t get to watch the “Talk Back” event live, watch the recording here:
If you didn’t get to watch The Story of Plastic for this event, click here for ways to see it.
Harrisonburg’s Earth Day Every Day, with help from the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, is hosting at-home screenings of the newest Story of Stuff Project film: The Story of Plastic. Film viewing can be accessed between June 1 and June 8. This watching period will be followed up with a short live panel discussion of the film on the evening of Monday, June 8.
Watch a free virtual screening of ‘The Story of Plastic’ and join our community conversation to help stop plastic pollution!
About this Event
We applaud you for your interest in ending plastic pollution! A big welcome to the two parts of our free public event:
Part 1: Watch the Film! You have a full week to watch a remarkable 96-minute film, The Story of Plastic.
Part 2: Talk Back! On the last day of film watching, June 8 at 7pm, you are invited to see (via a zoom link) our hard-working moderator and panel members respond to the plastic pollution crisis and field your submitted questions.
Earth Day Every Day (EDED) is celebrating its first birthday on June 8! This event is a way to thank all who had a hand in this successful first year, and to have all of you “join the party”! Please honor the birthday, and our earth, by joining us for this special virtual event. It is completely free and open to the public.
Produced by the Story of Stuff Project, The Story of Plastic takes a sweeping look at the man-made crisis of plastic pollution and the worldwide effect it has on the health of our planet and the people who inhabit it. Spanning three continents, the film illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, veritable mountains of trash, rivers and seas clogged with waste, and skies choked with the poisonous emissions from plastic production and processing. The Story of Plastic features interviews with experts and activists on the front lines of the fight, revealing the disastrous consequences of the flood of plastic smothering ecosystems and poisoning communities around the world, and the global movement that is rising up in response. With engaging original animation, archival industry footage beginning in the 1930’s, and first-person accounts of the unfolding emergency, the film distills a complex problem that is increasingly affecting the planet’s and its residents’ well-being.
“Talk Back” Panel Discussion on Monday, June 8, 7PM via Zoom
W A N T E D ! We really want your questions for the Talk Back. Little or big ones! Please email your questions by 4pm, Sunday, June 7 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moderator: Dr. Bob Bersson, JMU professor of art 1980-2003, artist, author of two art textbooks, community organizer and, in 2016, founder of the Interfaith Initiative for Peace and Justice in Harrisonburg, and currently coordinator of EMU’s Center for Interfaith Engagement spring film series.
Dr. Les Grady is a licensed environmental engineer, studying climate science and global warming in his retirement. He has taught at Purdue and Clemson, and consulted for the world’s largest environmental engineering consulting company. He currently authors the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley’s (CAAV) Weekly Climate News Roundup, presents for CAAV speakers bureau and teaches in JMU’s Lifelong Learning Institute.
Virginia Healy is a science and history teacher at Skyline Middle School helping students learn how to reduce waste and to help the next generation to do even more. She is a member of the EDED leadership team.
Elly Swecker is founder and chair of EDED and a presenter on plastic pollution and achieving zero waste. She formerly worked at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board, and is past executive director of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Free Clinic.
Art Fovargue is an avid citizen recycler. Trained as an engineer, he is retired from many years as laboratory manager for the Department of Physics & Astronomy at JMU. He is currently active in the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and the Rockingham Bird Club, and is co-coordinator of CAAV’s Community Compost Drop-off project.