by Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News reporter
Ojai’s Earth Day celebration April 21 should be both entertaining and educational, according to organizers.
The event, that runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Libbey Park in downtown Ojai, will feature speakers, vendors, live music and children’s activities.
“It’ll be a hands-on interactive opportunity for kids and adults,” said organizer Tim Nafziger of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition.
The event took shape during meetings of the Ojai Valley Restoration and Resilience Council, a group formed following the Thomas Fire interested in habitat restoration, sustainability and community involvement.
“They said, ‘let’s weave this into Earth Day,’” stated Nafziger.
Highlights of the event will include earth-friendly vendors, organically grown food, environmental nonprofits and artisans.
Chumash elder Julie Tumamait will deliver a blessing to begin the day.
Other speakers are Ojai Mayor Johnny Johnston, Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, and John Roulac, founder of the superfood company Nutiva.
Tania Parker, director of advancement for Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, will speak on habitat restoration.
Exhibitors will be grouped according to themes, including a movement-activity corner, healthy-food oasis and an artisan-shoppers lane.
“Our goal is to foster a village atmosphere,” said Nafziger.
The event will feature a tiny home on display, and a natural-building display hosted by Ray Cirino of Ojai, who builds using cob — a material made of clay, sand and straw.
“Kids can get their hands dirty with some of the materials he uses,” Nafziger said.
Musical entertainment will include the Oak Grove Choir, the Blue Moon Singers and local band The Chillz, playing originals and handpicked cover tunes.
In addition, Rev. Marilyn Miller, from the Center for Spiritual Living, will put on a recycled-fashion show.
Besides being a fun, family-friendly way for the community to gather, the event will help in addressing bigger issues, Nafziger said.
“It’s an opportunity to come together; to rediscover, reconnect and respond to the broader ecological crisis we’re facing, so we can act collectively for change,” he explained.
Nafziger believes celebrating Earth Day at Libbey Park makes sense.
“It’s our commons, as a community. It’s where we come together,” he explained.
Ojai City Councilwoman Suza Francina is helping organize the event and said the park is a perfect location.
“Libbey Park is a jewel,” she said. “There are so many areas that people haven’t explored.”
Participants can take a guided nature walk to get a better understanding of the ecology of the park.
Francina said she hopes the event inspires people “to learn to live lightly on the earth. To think about Ojai for the next 100 years — what we can implement individually.”
Rather than drive, Francina encouraged participants to walk, bicycle, skateboard or take the trolley to the event.
A large area has been set aside for bike parking, she said.
“Kelly Pasco from the Mob Shop will talk about easy things we can do to make the community more bicycle-friendly,” Francina added.
The deadline to reserve booth space is April 2.
Organizers invite interested community members to attend the next Earth Day planning meeting April 12 at 1 p.m. at the Green Coalition Resource Center, 206 N. Signal St.
(Photo: Eero D’Amour and Kaden Beeler, learning about natural buildings with guidance from Ray Cirino)