Citizen-Times: Adventure of the Week: Everybody’s Environment Festival

What: Everybody’s Environment Family Fun Spring Festival — Block Party with an Environmental Twist.

When: Hike starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at French Broad River Park. Spring Festival is 2-5 p.m.

Where: Festival is at Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center, 133 Livingston St., Asheville.

Details: In honor of Earth Day and the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism Week, the Everybody’s Environment Action Group will host a free Family Fun Spring Festival in collaboration with Asheville environment and community groups.

“The Everybody’s Environment festival is a space for families and friends to gather and enjoy music, entertainment, games, and delicious food,” said Kana Miller, AmeriCorps Conservation Education & Volunteer Associate with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

“You don’t have to know anything about environmental work to enjoy the festival. It’s an opportunity to have fun, meet new people, and explore the outdoors in your own neighborhood.”

Everybody’s Environment Action Group is a collaboration of environmental and community based groups in Western North Carolina, striving to foster equity and inclusion, including the UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education, U.S. Forest Service, AmeriCorps Project Conserve, Asheville GreenWorks, the Sierra Club, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and others.

The group originally formed after Green 2.0 — an initiative dedicated to increasing racial diversity across mainstream environmental groups and government agencies — published a report on the state of diversity in environmental organizations, which found that people of color in those groups have not broken the 12-16 percent “green ceiling” that has existed for decades. The report inspired the need for environmental and community organizations in Asheville to collaborate toward integrating the needs of the community into their long-term plans.

The Everybody’s Environment Spring Festival will incorporate fun activities, environmental responsibility and multicultural awareness.

There will be a little something for everyone, including performances by Lyric, Santos and Dwayne Barton, music from DJ Supaman, a bouncy house and scavenger hunt, food prepared by the Green Opportunities Kitchen Ready Program, and hands-on crafts and activities from participating community and environmental organizations.

The day is meant for celebration and having fun, but the overall theme will be recognizing the responsibility residents of planet Earth have to keep it clean and green, said festival coordinator Sheneika Smith of Date My City.

“Environmental care is one of the greater gifts we can offer our neighbor; selflessly caring for the planet and advocating for those who depend on Earth’s resource,” Smith said. “It’s the best way to express stewardship, love and charity to all mankind.”

“As a volunteer and service coordinator intern with the Forest Service and Appalachian Trail Conservancy, I have grown through strong volunteerism ethics,” said Allison Williams, volunteer and service coordinator with the U.S. Forest Service and Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “Being the only black face for me means being a strong individual for all cultures and to make sure our voice is heard in an ever changing environmental movement.”

Williams, along with the Carolina Mountain Club and Friends of Connect Buncombe, will also hold a hike Saturday in conjunction with the Spring Festival. No registration is required. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the French Broad River Park on Amboy Road (near the bridge) for a 3.5-mile roundtrip on the French Broad Park Greenway.

“We’ll walk to where the greenway ends at Hominy Creek Park, where there will be cars waiting if people want a ride back to their cars,” Williams said. “Or you can turn and walk back at any point. Wear comfortable shoes and bring drinking water. For those doing the full walk, plan to be over by noon.”

Sponsoring and hosting organizations: UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education, U.S. Forest Service, AmeriCorps Project Conserve, Asheville GreenWorks, Beattie Foundation, Green Opportunities, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, MountainTrue, Student Environmental Center at UNCA, Dogwood Alliance, Sierra Club, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Mountain People’s Assembly, Riverlink, Clean Water NC, Outward Bound and Mountain People’s Assembly.

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