Whether you’re paddle boarding on the waves near Butterfly Beach, meandering around the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, hiking Inspiration Point, or picnicking at Nojoqui Falls, the Santa Barbara environment never fails to provide fun, relaxation, or a mini getaway. It’s not just the wine tasting, the abundance of McConnell’s Ice Cream, and the Spanish architecture that makes Santa Barbara amazing; it’s the amazing efforts the community has taken to preserve its geographical treasures.
Nearly 50 years ago, a devastating oil spill occurred off Santa Barbara’s shores that changed April 22 for the rest of eternity. During that time, Senator Gaylord Nelson visited Santa Barbara to view the damage from the oil spill, returned to Washington D.C., and introduced a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth. The oil spill sparked a nationwide environmental movement, and established the Community Environmental Council (CEC) in 1970. Since then, CEC has led the region—and at times California and the nation—in creative solutions such as creating pathways to clean vehicles, solar energy, resilient food systems, and as you may have noticed, the reduction of plastic bags.
Every year, the CEC searches the horizons for one individual who goes above and beyond in their efforts to educate, inspire, and grow a new generation of environmental advocates. Gather around the Main Stage on Saturday at 2 p.m. to celebrate with the Academy Award winner and the recipient of the 2016 Santa Barbara’s Film Festival’s Riviera Award, Jeff Bridges, as he presents Paul Hawken with the 2017 Environmental Hero Award.
Welcoming Hawken to the stage are the participants in the March for Science who are rallying in solidarity with the national effort to support and safeguard the scientific community in the face of recent policy changes. The march starts at De La Guerra Plaza at 11 a.m. and ends at the Earth Day festival in Alameda Park at 2 p.m. with the Environmental Hero Award presentation.
Founder of ecologically-conscious businesses and writer of seven national best-selling novels, Hawken has published business and environmental texts that have been voted number one among 67 colleges. His work Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution has been referred to by several heads of state, including President Bill Clinton. As the executive director of Project Drawdown and editor of the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Hawken continues his quest to offer realistic solutions to climate change. After receiving his award, the UCSB Arts & Lectures will feature Hawken in an evening discussion at 8 p.m. at UCSB Campbell Hall.
Hawken will not be the only one being honored during the festival. Partnering with Explore Ecology, the festival presents awards for Environmental Stewardship Awards in Education, a community-nominated award given to a student, a teacher and a classroom. Going above and beyond to encourage and support individuals to act on protecting the environment, these recipients’ uplifting promotion for change will be honored on the Kids Stage at 1 p.m. and will also join Hawken on the Main Stage for additional recognition.
Although only some individuals will be honored, everyone at the festival has the opportunity to make their voices heard by making rally signs at Explore Ecology and other various booths from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. These signs will be held by the hands of thousands who will march on Washington DC on April 29 in efforts to take a stand for climate justice and a clean-energy economy. (To join this movement and inspire change, join the community on Saturday, April 29 at noon at the Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium for the People’s Climate Mobilization Rally.)
To get more involved with the festival, join the 300 other community volunteers who annually step forward to help around the park. Committing for at least three hours per shift as individuals or groups, volunteers greet attendees as they arrive, support in zones such as the Green Car Show, capture moments on camera, and so much more.
Attendees can also check out the annual Green Car Show, featuring the largest public collection of efficient and alternative-fueled vehicles on the West Coast or visit an Elected Officials booth where the community can speak directly to representatives about their community! And what’s a festival without food? The Food Court hosts a Homegrown Roots section with local food artisans! Every vendor is local and commits to sourcing at least 50% of their ingredients from local farms, ranches and food artisans. Feel free to wash down your meal with a treat from the Beer and Wine Garden featuring local brewers and vintners, and connect with over 200 eco-friendly exhibiters. This amazing Festival is being held Saturday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 23 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Alameda Park.