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Houston discovers the green for Earth Day festival

Earth Day at Discovery Green features family-friendly events. / Photo by Jamaal Ellis, courtesy Discovery Green

by Eduardo de la Garza

This is the third in a three-part series about Earth Day. This week’s story is about Discovery Green’s involvement in Green Mountain Energy Earth Day — in partnership with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and featuring Houston Public Works Water Festival.

Houston’s skyline is a marvel. We’ve all seen images of the urban landscape with lush green trees and the Buffalo Bayou in the foreground. But delve deeper into the massive skyscrapers and you’ll see another sight — the 12-acre park in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center: Discovery Green.

Open to the public since 2008, and run and maintained by the Discovery Green Conservancy, the park features an amphitheater, two restaurants, a manmade lake, fountain, gardens, jogging trails for people and dogs, and plenty of green space. It’s been hosting Earth Day since 2009, and in 2018 partnered with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition. From noon to 5 p.m. April 22, Discovery Green celebrates its 15th year of holding the event.

Not only is water the theme for this year’s Earth Day, bur the celebration features Houston Public Works Water Festival, an annual event that promotes the conservation and efficient use of water through exhibitor booths, science experiments, performances, and art installations.

“The Houston Public Works’ Water Works Festival became involved when we discovered their festival and the Earth Day festival were scheduled to happen within a few weeks of each other,” said Frankie Ortega, associate director of marketing for Discovery Green. “At that point we decided to pool resources to create an Earth Day festival that everyone could enjoy.”

Every large event needs power; for Earth Day it needs to be green power. Green Mountain Energy has been a partner of Discovery Green since its opening and is the park’s official green energy provider. It has helped the park avoid 100 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, Ortega said.

“Green Mountain Energy celebrates Earth Day every day, but April provides an especially great opportunity to raise awareness for taking care of our planet,” Green Mountain Energy Vice President Mark Parsons said. “Joining forces with Discovery Green for this tradition of family fun allows us to continue our sustainability work in the community and reinforce our commitment to providing 100 percent renewable energy to power the park.”

Earth Day is celebrating its 53rd year and began as a response to, at the time, the largest oil spill in American history: the Santa Barbara oil spill of Jan.-Feb. 1969. Begun as an Environmental Teach-In, the name was changed to Earth Day because a teach-in limited the event’s scope, which was to let people know about the consequences of not protecting the environment. Twenty million Americans gathered on April 22, 1970, to rally for the environment. They weren’t empty demonstrations, as in the months and years that followed, Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed numerous laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and more.

“Green Mountain Energy Earth Day is an opportunity for Houstonians to come out, learn more about their environment and to connect with others in the city who are working to protect our natural heritage,” Ortega said. “We hope visitors will leave the Earth Day celebration refreshed, renewed, and ready to keep doing their part to protect the environment.”

Green Mountain Energy Earth Day — in partnership with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and featuring Houston Public Works Water Festival will feature more than 70 vendors, exhibitors, art installations, face painting, crafts, educational panel discussions, and more. Festivities begin with a performance by Houston Aztec Dance & Drum – Calmecac Indigenous Arts Organization and opening remarks from Green Mountain Energy, City Council Member, Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock, the City’s Chief Resilience and Sustainability Officer Priya Zachariah, and Discovery Green Conservancy President Barry Mandel. Please note this is a zero-waste event.

We hope everyone comes out to Discovery Green to enjoy Earth Day with like-minded environmentalists, or bring people who want to learn more protecting it. April 22 is a day, but every day is an Earth Day.