Posts Tagged ‘Earth Day’

Earth Day Park

During this lunchtime bike ride, I discovered a very small park wedged into a narrow strip of land along 9th Street, stretching from Independence Avenue to C Street (MAP), and situated between the Federal Aviation Administration Building and the U.S. Department of Energy Building.  The land also serves as the roof of  the Interstate-395 Tunnel.  A small sign at the northern end identified it as Earth Day Park.  Having passed by it many times without ever noticing or hearing about it, I decided I needed to find out more.    

It turns out that the park was a combined effort of several government agencies, including the U.S. Energy Department, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the General Services Administration, and the D.C. Department of Transportation.  Apparently enough employees from the adjacent government buildings, including Department of Energy Secretary Hazel R. O’Leary, had gotten tired of seeing the neglect of this weedy, trash-strewn piece of land located adjacent to their buildings.  So contact was made with the General Services Administration, which manages and supports the land and buildings and basic functioning of federal agency facilities, who then coordinated the building of the park with the D.C. Department of Transportation, who owned the land.

Earth Day Park has a number of unusual aspects to it.  As part of the celebration of Earth Day 1994 President Bill Clinton outlined a series of recommendations for Federal agencies to increase “Environmentally and economically beneficial policies on Federal landscaped grounds.”  Earth Day Park embodies these “greening” principles.

The park utilizes solar energy, including an array of photovoltaic cells on top of the sign at the front of the park,  to provide electricity for the lamp posts and lighting.  The park also incorporates the use of different plants.  For example, it uses dwarf ornamental grass instead of lawn perennials and annuals, reducing the need for gasoline powered mowers, edgers and trimmers along with fertilizers and pesticides.  The park’s use of mulch and drought tolerant plant species, as well as the raised beds, allows for moisture to be retained by the soil, thus conserving water.   And the use of regional plant material, adapted to local climate and biological conditions,  provides a unique ecosystem that increases the rate of success of the plants.

And because of the incorporation of these principles, Earth Day Park requires far less maintenance than that of a traditionally developed park, making it a truly “green” park.

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Earth Day in D.C.

Earth Day in D.C.

Over the course of exploring D.C. via bicycle over the past few years, I have seen that there are a lot of ways that people and organizations attempt to get publicity and recognition for their causes.  And a whale in the middle of Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. (MAP) was a pretty big attempt.   The whale, a lifesize inflatable one, was dispayed in Freedom Plaza by The Great Whale Conservancy.  Understanding the size of the blue whale helps provide perspective on the size of the display.  The Blue Whale is the largest creature ever to have lived on earth.  Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant.  And their hearts, as much as a car.

The Great Whale Conservancy is a group dedicated to generating awareness, motivating the public, and steering the public’s involvement towards saving whales.   Specifically, they were calling  for ships to use alternate shipping and to reduce ship speed in the northeast Pacific, where the world’s largest subpopulation of blue whales comes to the California coast during the mid to late summer in order to feed on krill.

The Great Whale Conservancy’s publicity display was one of a number of events put on as part of a recent Earth Day celebration.   Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection.  The holiday was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by The Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.   Numerous communities now celebrate Earth Week, with an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

Today is the 44th annual Earth Day, and there are a number of events and celebrations planned throughout the city.   From eco-friendly exhibits and activities to raise awareness of environmental issues located at Union Station (MAP), to annual cleanups planned at various locations along the Potomac and Anacostia River, there are enough opportunities for anyone who wants to participate in one of the organized efforts.  Fortunately, it’s also possible for individuals to do their part to protect the environment every day of the year.