Armed with electric leaf blowers, Atherton board member, Police Chief Steve McCulley and staff push a rubber ball with the aim of knocking down a giant bowling pin in a standout activity during the city’s first Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 23.
Aside from a few laughs, the point of the game is to demonstrate how quiet, powerful, and free an electric blower can be (sounds similar to a hairdryer), according to event organizers.
“(Some) 3.8% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from gas-powered park equipment, which is more than the city’s combined emissions from wastewater and sewage treatment for Atherton, so removing gas-powered blowers would have a very significant impact,” said Stacy Miles, a member of the environmental program committee, which is hosting the festival, in an email. Last month, its committee members shared their frustration that the board was not doing more to limit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in light of their “health effects and climate risks”.
The festival “exceeded my most optimistic expectations, so I rode high,” Miles said. “I’ve received a number of good emails over the last few days encouraging us to do it again, which is the best compliment.”
“As we come out of the pandemic, I think everyone yearns for a greater sense of community,” he said in an email Tuesday, April 26. And, Atherton shows up! Peddling cars, performing arts, tons of green vendor tables, e-bikes, and EVs (electric vehicles) — all brought in by Atherton residents. … There are lots of ways to make a difference, and our show tries highlight variety.”
Miles met some people who had come for an art exhibition but left more interested in buying an EV. Or, some come for e-bikes and then try vegan food for the first time.
During the event which took place at Holbrook-Palmer Park, people rode around in a Volkswagen Beetle that had been converted into a bicycle.
Participants peer into the electric cars — Ford, Rivian, Tesla, and others — that line the park’s grounds, a combination of dealer and owner vehicles. Americans’ interest in electric cars has increased in recent months as gas prices skyrocket, according to The New York Times.
There are lots of activities for kids. The kids stop by the pop-up insect museum from The Beetlelady. He brought a real tarantula, along with other insect models. Outside Jennings Pavilion, the children gathered to tell stories. They also boarded a fire truck and Menlo Park Fire Protection District ambulance.
The kids visited with the chickens, including some very tender silk chickens.
High efficiency sprinklers on display in the yard.
There are also food trucks and plant-based ice cream samples from Oakland-based Eclipse Foods.
A vendor exhibit featuring the San Mateo County Bee Guild, UC Master Gardeners, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and more.
The Earth Day art exhibition features work by climate artist Sukey Bryan, local artists and students from the Sacred Heart School, Atherton.
The day ended with a speaker. US Senator Alex Padilla speaks via video about the key climate provisions of the state’s infrastructure bill. SFO Director of Sustainability Erin Cooke, Rob Jackson of the Stanford Woods Institute and food scientist Eric Schulze also spoke.