Sumter is working (and playing!) towards sustainability

Weather-wise, this Saturday is supposed to be glorious!  As the tourism staff, we are always somewhat concerned about the forecast, because it makes a difference to the traffic at the Visitors Center and where we direct people who are looking for Sumter’s outdoor attractions and events.  But this Saturday, there’s a special reason to be happy about the sunshine and moderate (mid-80’s) temperatures.

April 30, 2011 marks the Sumter community’s third annual Earth Day Celebration.  From 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the Garden Street end of the Heath Gardens will be buzzing (and singing) with the sights, sounds and tastes of people working together to create a sustainable community and preserve our natural beauty for generations to come.  Live entertainment, food vendors, demonstrations and lots of giveaways are sure to make it a great time for the entire family!

Also happening that day is the first annual Recovery Road Race (registration starts at 7:30 a.m.; the race begins at 9), hosted by the Young Professionals of Sumter and the City of Sumter.  Leaving from the Heath Gardens and returning to the Grainger McKoy “Recovery” statue, participants in this 5/10K Run/Walk won’t just be getting a good workout; they’ll also be helping the community.  All proceeds benefit Sumter Green, which will also be present on the Horseshoe lawn (between the Visitors Center and Iris Market), with hundreds of spring plants ready for your garden.  With a great selection and unbelievable prices, the Sumter Green Truckload Sale (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) is a fantastic opportunity to pick up spring bedding plants, get ideas for your garden and find out what Sumter Green is all about.  They go about their work quietly and without much fanfare, but Sumter Green is a tremendously important organization.  All those delightful green spots at Sumter’s entryways and various places within the city?  Thank Sumter Green!  These are the little things that make a community look loved and cared for, and they have a great impact on both our citizens and those who might be looking to make a new home in Sumter.

Even if you are not a gardener, a runner, an artist or planning to build a new home or make renovations to your existing one, you can still participate.  We can all do our part toward protecting the earth for future generations by recycling, being responsible with our use of plastics, picking up litter when we see it and many other actions.  For more information on being environmentally responsible at home, please click here.  Something else you can do—and this is major—is to take advantage of the e-Waste Dropoff at the corner of Bland and Liberty Streets (across from the Heath Gardens) on Saturday.  This is the place to get rid of those old electronics that are cluttering up your home, storage area or attic, and that cannot be safely placed in the household trash due to the toxic substances they contain.  There will also be three drop-off boxes for old athletic shoes, which will be recycled into materials for children’s play areas. 

Now, all of this concern about “sustainability” and saving the earth is not new.  Earth Day was first observed in 1970, and remains one of the only international observances that is celebrated the world over.  The terminology has changed, but the sentiment has not.  Back in the early 1970’s, my school taught us a lot about “ecology.”  We’d never heard the terms “sustainability” or “global warming,” but we knew that the earth was ours to take care of and that as individual citizens, even though we were just kids, we could all do our part, too. 

As I recall, at the tender age of seven, I was on a personal mission to save the California condor.  Because I went to a very progressive school, none of the teachers objected to the hand-drawn decorations of pretty birds and cute slogans that I put on every available surface.  The condors are safe now, but it was many, many years later that I found out the bird that made me lie awake nights was a, um, buzzard.

So come on out to Swan Lake Iris Gardens on Saturday.  I promise you, our swans are much more beautiful!

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