Yesterday was the big city Earth Day fair here in town at Balboa Park. Buoyed by temperatures in the 80s, tens of thousands of people came out to celebrate.
Getting to the park required some form of travel, which for many people meant participating in a three mile traffic jam to exit at the park. (Just a little bit of irony in people in getting into their internal combustion powered vehicles to celebrate the earth, don’t you think?)
With the main core of Balboa Park dedicated to pedestrians and the fair, parking a car there was pretty impossible. The organizers had arranged for remote parking and shuttles, which seemed to be working well.
I rode my scooter, which made parking in the unused space between cars easy. I give myself a few brownie points for driving something that’s pretty fuel-efficient, though in reality a carload of people in a Hummer would have used about the same amount of gas to get there. I’m trying to get greener, really. (All of you reading this, hold me to it–Guilt works. So does an appeal to my sense of the greater good.)
In the end, though, even on a hot day, the way to get there was on two feet–or two wheels. Cars were barred from entering the core of the park, and there was free valet parking for bicycles. Yeeha!
Once you got there you had your choice of 400-plus booths. Native plant society? Check. Landscape contractors specializing in low-water landscapes? Several. Information on greener residential construction practices (including solar energy)? Or on most of the public natural parklands around the county? Or on converting your car to a purely electric vehicle? Absolutely.
Left: A 1930s (1932?) Rolls Royce that has been turned into a purely electric vehicle.
On such a warm day I felt really sorry for the person in this garbage can costume that was meant to draw attention to city waste issues. But he or she was incredibly perky all the time I watched. Better than the wilted guy in the banana suit nearby.
One of the kid-friendly booths was this hands-on demonstration of paper-making using recycled paper. I watched a girl of probably no more than five staring at the little sheet of paper that she’d just made, like it was the most magical object in the world.
And of course there were booths to buy earthly stuff: water storage systems (a little pricey at over $6 per gallon of capacity), electric bicycles, cool succulents, sandals, teeshirts, kettle corn… Okay, some of the offerings were more opportunistic than they were green, but hey, it’s a festival. The home-made lemonade stand caught my interest, but even by not long after noon, they were sold out. Waaah.
Events like this are interesting to see what’s being pushed as the latest greatest thing, and some of the green construction technologies were pretty big. Fifteen years ago an event like this would have been filled with people demonstrating their double-paned window systems. Yesterday I might have seen one outfit offering a specialized version of insulated glazing. That goes to show how what may have seemed cool and exotic a decade ago can become commonplace–and even part of regulations. It gives me hope that we’re seeing a lot of people working on some of our big problems. And what’s considered a boutique industry this year might be common as dirt in a decade. Solar-electric kettle-corn storage systems, anyone?
Crowds or not, I always enjoy going to Balboa Park. Here are just a few random sights. I’ll post tomorrow on what was going on in the botanical building, seemingly oblivious to the Earth Day happenings.
Always a crowd-pleaser, the wild trunks of the Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) were drawing photographers every few minutes. I’ve loved this plant ever since I saw it in the 1970s at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. I might have room for one if I nuke everything else in the back yard…
The park is devoting itself more to California native plants. Here’s a new planting of bush poppy (Dendromecon, probably harfordii) with a groundcover ceonothus.
In my cloistered life a tightly cropped patch of lawn is a pretty exotic sight. And then add lawn bowlers on top of that. Wow. Not things I see every day. The park is always great for keeping my eyes open…