On Saturday afternoon, crowds gathered in Kalamazoo to celebrate Earth Day. Protesters marched from Western Michigan University and continued in a march to Bronson Park in conjunction with the national March for Science taking place in various cities to demand action on climate change.
Hundreds of people made their way through the sea of tables stationed in Bronson Park, representing around 70 organizations, while a live salsa band played in the background. Organizations present included the Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo Astronomical Society, and Michigan Environmental Council, as well as student organizations from both WMU and K.
Five students–Yasamin Shaker ‘20, Tanush Jagdish ‘16, Michelle Sugimoto ‘16, Rachel Wasserman ‘19, and Dulce Reyes Martinez ‘20–represented Kalamazoo College at the celebration. “We are here to present the Recycling Department and sustainability initiatives at Kalamazoo College, as well as two upcoming Arcus events,” commented Shaker.
Another key organization involved in the Earth Day celebration was the Michigan Environmental Coalition. Organizer and tabler Joe Bower shared that the MEC “work[s] with legislators and agencies to pass laws and rules that promote environmental health” as a “resource for lawmakers.” He explained that the purpose of the event is “ to come out and raise awareness with this event” for an issue that has become largely politically polarized, as captured in one individual’s sign, which read: “Science is not a liberal conspiracy.”
In a personal interview with The Index, co-organizer Paul Clements commented that the event was important because “We haven’t had an Earth Day celebration in Kalamazoo in 12 years. We’re here to raise awareness because now is the critical moment to be taking action. Trump is moving us backwards on climate change and it’s an utter disaster. This is a celebration of the earth and of taking care of the planet.”
Also involved with the event were various WMU student organizations, including Students For A Sustainable Earth. President Haley Olsen of the organization commented, “It’s awesome that Kalamazoo came back to do this–it used to happen a lot back in the ‘90s,” referring to the more frequent climate protests a couple of decades ago. “We’re excited and we’re not going to stop [caring]!”