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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Things to Do This Earth Day, Saturday, April 22

Harlan Hubbard studio.
Here are a few interesting things to do around town on Earth Day.

But first, a little background.  Our current environmental awareness began around 1970 as a warning regarding increasing pollution levels. Earth Day began as a counterculture event but is now a mainstream celebration of our relationship and responsibility to the world around us. Now the annual celebration encourages people to get outside, participate in some sort of environmental community service, and to otherwise make the world around us a better place, or just to enjoy the natural world.

Of course, our modern concept of environmentalism can be traced to Henry David Thoreau who celebrated the richness of our relationship with the planet as well as his frustration with a lack of respect for the environment in his essays and books, most notably Walden.  The man who is known as Kentucky’s Thoreau, Fort Thomas’ Harlan Hubbard, picked up on that theme and revealed that relationship in his paintings and his writings. He, like Thoreau, “went to the woods to live deliberately” in order to deepen his understanding of nature, himself, and mankind.

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He lived without electricity or running water for over 40 years in a small house that he built from locally sourced materials on a hill overlooking the Ohio River downstream from Carrollton, Kentucky.  But he really began his experiment years before that over at 129 Highland Avenue in an art studio that be built from reclaimed materials. That building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here are three things that you can do this Earth Day in Fort Thomas.

1. The Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy, the local land trust that oversees the studio, will sponsor its first Earth Day Open House from 1:00 - 4:00 at the Harlan Hubbard Studio and Preserve in the heart of Fort Thomas at 129 Highland Avenue to tour the studio where Kentucky’s Thoreau developed his artistic style as well as his environmental philosophy. See how he lived and how the area will become an environmental experience center. Learn what you can do help your piece of the planet.

2. The Fort Thomas Tree Commission is presenting their annual combination Earth Day/Arbor Day Event and are looking for volunteers to help clean up and revitalize the Landmark Tree Trail  on Saturday, April 22nd from 8:30 AM to 12:00. The tree trail is located in Tower Park at the entrance to Carmel Manor. They will also be giving away Kentucky Coffee tree, the official tree of the Commonwealth. Bring gloves and dress for work.  The Tree Trail is considered one the best short hikes in Kentucky.  If you would like to volunteer, please email Julie Rice at

Tree Trail near Carmel Manor.
3. Highlands’ track coach, Brian Allesandro will lead his third Earth Day activity at Highland Hills Park. He has coordinated the annual project with Duke Energy’s representative, Jeff Mohr, who says, “Highland Hills Park needs you! On April 21 and April 22 we will be conducting our 3rd annual Earth Day event. Trail restoration, bridge building, and invasive species removal are going to be our main points of focus. The park perimeter trail will be completed pending the number of volunteers. Our next steps will include adding trail heads and a kiosk.”  Hours for the event: 8:00-2:00 Friday (breakfast & lunch provided as well as a free shirt) 8:00-12:00 Saturday (free shirt only). To register, click here
Photo from previous Ignite event.

4. Hike the many miles of trails in the Fort Thomas park system.

Here are a number of simple things that each of us can do to make it Earth Day every day.

Reduce. Think of ways to reduce your consumption. Can you buy bulk? Do you really need it? Use reusable bags when you shop. Packaging makes up 50% of our trash so buy things in bulk or in reusable containers.

Reuse. Avoid single use goods. Find other uses for products like jars (hold paint, nails, or craft supplies), coffee grounds (for the garden), and paper (shred the non-shiny paper for garden compost use).

Maintain and repair. Yard machines, automobiles, and anything gas powered should be properly maintained for maximum efficiency. The same goes for your home’s HVAC system.

Recycle. Rumpke provides one of the country’s best recycling programs but think about recycling other things like electronics and food waste.

Conserve energy. Duke Energy will give you efficient LED lightbulbs for you house. It’s an easy way to conserve energy consumption in your home.   Take your own grocery bags when you shop. Try to decrease your “phantom loads” of electric devices that draw power even though they are not turned on. Use Energy Star appliances. Install a programmable thermostat.

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