Block Island Earth Day activities
All are welcome to participate on Block Island Earth Day events: islanders and visitors, scientists, citizen scientists, naturalists, teachers, parents, children, students, and community members. These are family-oriented events.
9 a.m. — Bird Banding with Kim Gaffett
At Clay Head Trail. Celebrating 50 years of birding data to support scientific research and conservation.
Gaffett will meet folks at the Clay Head Trail parking area at 9 a.m. The bird banding will involve a walk around the area. Participants will watch Kim as she takes bird measurements and can assist with the release of the birds. This is an event where people can come-and-go.
Noon — Block Island March for Science
Meet at Nicholas Ball Park (near the Rebecca statue at the end of Water Street) and march to the Solviken property on Corn Neck Road. Those who want to march a shorter distance are welcome to stop anywhere along the route. The March for Science will be a demonstration of a passion for science and sound a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.
1 p.m. — Island Clean-up
Pickup and dropoff of collection bags will be at the Solviken property. Sponsored by Committee for the Great Salt Pond, The Nature Conservancy, Block Island Tourism, and the Block Island Conservancy.
Bags will be available throughout the afternoon from about 1 to 4 p.m. Trash collectors are encouraged to fan out around the island. The only areas people are discourage from cleaning are those with nesting birds, including Andy’s Way and the dunes. When the trash bags are dropped off at the dumpster at Solviken, collectors will receive a thank you gift of a reusable “grocery” bag, with the Block Island Earth Day logo. The Solvekin drop-off will shut down sometime between 4 and 5 p.m., so that folks can get to the Pot Luck for Science.
5 p.m. — Pot Luck for Science
At the Island Free Library.
Please bring whatever you enjoy cooking or baking or assembling. The Friends of the Library will have wine available. In the spirit of Earth Day, people may want to bring their own washable plate, cup, and utensils, as well as a reusable bag in which to stash them.
6 p.m. — Documentary: “Planetary”
At the Island Free Library. Filmmaker Guy Reid interviews NASA astronauts, environmentalists, and philosophers to show that all life on the planet is inseparably interconnected. The film sheds new light on the ways our world view is profoundly affecting life on our planet.
The Block Island Times also had a brief online chat with Judy Gray, one of the people who helped organize the Earth Day activities:
Q. How did the events come about?
A. The March for Science on Block Island is a “satellite” of the national March for Science that will take place on the same date as the one in Washington, DC. Beginning with the election of President Trump and his subsequent cabinet selections, science, scientists, and evidence-based policymaking have been under attack by budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing datasets, and threats to dismantle government agencies. As described so well on the March for Science website, these actions harm us all, putting our health, food, air, water, climate, and jobs at risk. The March for Science is an opportunity for people who support science to take a public stand and be counted. The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments by building a broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science.
As soon as I heard about the national March for Science and realized that I could not attend, I asked around to see if there was interest on the island in having a local March for Science, just as we did to support the Women’s March on Washington in January. B.I.’s high school science teacher, Sue Gibbons, and I agreed that we were both interested in getting a march together. In order to ensure that the march did not interfere with anyone else’s Earth Day activities and to coordinate our schedules, we contacted The Nature Conservancy, Block Island Conservancy, Committee for the Great Salt Pond, Island Free Library, the Land Trust, Block Island Historical Society, Chamber of Commerce, and B.I. Tourism. The result was a meeting to share ideas and a subsequent calendar of events for Block Island on Earth Day, including Kim Gaffet’s bird banding; the Island Cleanup suggested by Sven Risom and sponsored by the CGSP, TNC, BIC, and Tourism Council; and the Library’s generous offer to host a Pot Luck for Science and a showing of the documentary “Planetary” in order to make a full day of exciting family activities.
Sue started knitting headbands with a DNA pattern and engaged her students in creating posters for the march. I contacted the Town, Police, and The Block Island Times. Jessica Willi created a logo.
Q. What are the organizations involved?
A. The Nature Conservancy, Block Island Conservancy, Committee for the Great Salt Pond, the Land Trust, Block Island Maritime Institute, Block Island Chamber of Commerce, Block Island Tourism, the Island Free Library, the Friends of the Island Free Library, and the Block Island School.
Q. Why should people attend?
A. In addition to what was said on the March for Science website and included in the answer above, I’d like to add that science touches all of our lives, every day, in ways we cannot begin to imagine, nor do we have the time or attention to do so. Attending Block Island’s Earth Day activities can connect us to nature on our beautiful island, help clean up pollution, show our support for science and scientists, and improve our understanding of science and its role in our daily lives.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with these events?
A. I personally hope that Earth Day activities open our minds to the importance of investing in science and protecting our environment, recognize the accomplishments of our conservation organizations, and broaden our interpersonal relationships and fellowship.
Q. Why is conservation so important to Block Island?
A. It may be the people with whom I choose to associate, but absolutely everyone I know who loves Block Island does so because they appreciate the beauty and cleanliness of its natural environment. There are other reasons, too, for example, the wonderful people and the beautiful architecture. But nature is what makes this place so incredibly special. Let’s celebrate it!
This interview was conducted and edited by Lars Trodson.