I wouldn't exactly classify myself as an "outdoors" kind of person, but when the weather is as perfect as it has been this week, even I can't help but find reasons to be outside as often as possible. And it's a great time to show your gratitude to this planet we share with six billion of our closest friends, as Sunday is Earth Day.
Earth Day is so much more than just learning which bottles to recycle and remembering to roll out the bin on Friday mornings. In Austin, it's about getting out, getting involved and learning how you can make a difference all year round. It helps a lot when it's a community effort, and this is a great time to meet your neighbors in a unified goal of saying thank you to Mama Earth.
All weekend, TreeHouse, Austin's conscious home improvement store, is offering free Earth Weekend classes and demonstrations on eco-friendly practices. Everything from water harvesting to gardening to chicken keeping, plus plenty of free samples to boot. No free food samples, unfortunately, but there will be food trucks on site both days to keep you satiated.
Make some noise as well at any one of this weekend's big music events. You've got the 25th Annual Old Settler's Music Festival celebrating Americana and bluegrass out at the Salt Lick's Driftwood Pavilion all weekend. If you can stand the smoke, there's the ultra laid back Austin Reggae Festival out at Auditorium Shores. And for the opposite experience, you can bring the whole family out to Pioneer Farms on Saturday to enjoy the family-friendly music of the Biscuit Brothers and others at the 6th Annual Austin Family Music Festival.
On Friday night only, ACL Live is hosting one of the most spectacular lineups ever to commemorate the music and legend of Johnny Cash. With performances by Kenny Chesney, Chris Cornell, Ronnie Dunn, Kris Kristofferson, Ray LaMontagne, Amy Lee, Lucinda Williams and Brandi Carlisle just to name A FEW, this show, entitled "We Walk the Line," is probably the hottest ticket in town for a good long while.
On Saturday, Whole Foods Markets will be leading the "Give 5% to Mother Earth" campaign to raise money for local eco-friendly businesses. This community-wide giving day means that a percentage of your purchases from participating retailers will go directly toward supporting efforts to clean up our environment and keep it that way. Take a look at the sponsors, businesses and beneficiaries on the event page and see how you can make your dollars make good eco sense.
On Sunday, the city's official Austin Earth Day Festival takes place at Mueller Park in East Austin. Mayor Lee Leffingwell will be one just one of the distinguished keynote speakers kicking off this day-long music and food and fun celebration of our green city. Interactive exhibits, live music, kids' activities, food trailers and so much more will make this festival one to remember.
Meanwhile, Be Yoga invites you out to Lady Bird Lake to help Love Our Lady. This organized clean-up team will help to beautify the popular exercise and recreation spot before heading back to their Rainey Street studio for a free guided yoga class from one of their instructors. It's a great way to show your appreciation for one of the city's natural wonders and maybe check out a new exercise community.
At the same time, Gusto Dogs will be circling Lady Bird Lake as well, in a charity walk for Austin Pets Alive! These community-minded dog-walking professionals invite you to join them as they circle the lake this Earth Day, raising much needed funds for the new intakes being housed at South Austin's fastest growing animal nonprofit.
And when you've been outside all weekend, sometimes it's good to take a break in the dark air conditioning of the Alamo Drafthouse. On Sunday afternoon, they're hosting a screening of an Earth Day special event with the documentary One Day on Earth. Shot in 190 countries across the globe, the film undertakes the enormous challenge of uniting viewers in all of these countries for one moment of global appreciation.
Of course, these are just a few ways you can make a joyful noise unto the Mother Earth that has put up with you all these years. Show her a little love in your own way. But, of course, take a little time to look around you and appreciate what you've got.
It could be a whole lot worse. You could be living in Cleveland...