Pasadena cancels its Earth Day festival
|April 18, 2015 - With a severe drought and other environmental challenges our region, Pasadena cancels its annual Earth Day Festival. How sad. -|
|PASADENA >> A yearly, city-sponsored Earth Day festival enjoyed by thousands for the past 12 years has been canceled because of a lack of leadership in the Department of Public Works, city officials and former participants said Friday.|
Instead of the annual Pasadena Earth and Arts Festival at Memorial Park, the city will host a much smaller, scaled-down “Earth Day Celebration” workshop on Saturday at Villa-Parke Community Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. That event will teach people about “recycling, composting, container gardening” and other hands-on skills, but it is not the full-on festival held in years past.
Day One, a community organization that participated in the festival last year, said they learned from a third party the city did not have enough staff nor time to plan this year’s event.
“They couldn’t do it, even though they had set aside a budget for it,” said Vesley Reutimann, environmental prevention director for Day One, a nonprofit in the city working on youth empowerment, public health and environmental issues.
One reason for the cancellation mentioned by nonprofit groups is the firing of Public Works Director Siobhan Foster in January, the result of an alleged embezzlement of $6.4 million from the city’s fund generated by a surcharge on residents’ electricity bills. Assistant City Manager Julie Gutierrez became interim head of Public Works as well as the Finance Department.
“I think they are stretched pretty thin,” said City Councilman Terry Tornek, who is also a mayoral candidate in Tuesday’s election.
Tornek, who has the endorsement of the Sierra Club, praised the city’s green practices, including moving toward a cleaner electrical power profile, sponsoring recycled water projects for golf courses, and providing rebates for residents to replace lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.
“Yes, Earth Day is important. But what is really important is the substance of the programs,” he said.
Usually, the event would be held the weekend before Earth Day, which is April 22. Last year, however, it was held May 3 and included displays from Armory Center for the Arts, live music, a drum circle, a “sustainable beer garden” and electric car demonstrations. In 2013, 7,500 people attended the event, which was often called one of the biggest in Southern California.
“There are a lot of disappointed people among many community groups,” Reutimann said. “The symbolism is powerful.”
City Spokesman William Boyer said in an email that the city will encourage “green living” during April and May with workshops on drought-tolerant landscaping as well as participation in the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation.
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