December 09, 2021

Earth Day, every day

Celebration marked at Newton Arboretum

Spring may have been a little late this year in central Iowa, but organizers couldn’t have asked for a better Iowa evening to celebrate Earth Day. Held Friday night at the Newton Arboretum, the event was organized to celebrate the 48th anniversary of Earth Day, as well as a chance for residents to have some fun.

Elaine Mattingly, who organized the event, said she wanted to get the conversation started about Earth Day’s big anniversary. With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaching in 2020, Mattingly said she’s hoping to build interest in the event in Newton. She wants to get people talking locally about what they can do to support the environment. Commemorating Earth Day with a social event at the arboretum just makes sense, Mattingly said.

“We wanted to combine a social event with acknowledging Earth Day. It’s my hope that we could spark a two-year effort to create something in the community towards 2020,” Mattingly said. “There’s a lot of talented people in Newton and central Iowa.

While she’s not sure what effort might look like, Mattingly said she’s hoping to be a part of the effort. She’s willing to help however she can.

“I don’t want to dictate what that looks like, I just want to facilitate that effort,” Mattingly said.

On Friday, community members had a chance to eat, drink and be merry as they worked to stay abreast on environmental issues. The Bistro in Story City provided plenty of food for guests to munch on, and Ed Fallon, Urban Farmer and Earth Care Activist, addressed the crowd. The former state representative urged the crowd to stay vigilant and spoke about work to oppose the Bakken pipeline, a portion of which runs through Jasper County.

“The only way to change the world is to get in, to get involved,” Fallon said.

This isn’t the first time that Fallon has pushed back against the pipeline. In 2015 he started a 400-mile hike in Keokuk to walk the length of the pipeline. Later that year he was arrested for trespassing after police were called to the Governor’s Office when Fallon refused to leave. Fallon said he’s concerned about the environmental ramifications of the pipeline.

“It’s not a question of when it’s going to break, but it’s when and where,” Fallon said. “It’s not right that they’re abusing their power against the best interests of people.”

Fallon plans to start another march earlier this spring, walking from Fort Dodge to Des Moines to keep bringing awareness to environmental issues that are affecting Iowans. Even though Iowans may have their differences, he believes most have more in common than they may think.

“If anybody likes to walk, it’s going to an interesting adventure,” Fallon said.

Fallon’s skill at bringing Iowans together, even those with wildly different points of view is something Mattingly admires. She asked him to speak at the event because she believes he has a deep understanding of the events facing Iowans. Mattingly also cited the Fallon Forums, an ongoing series of events Fallon hosts, that bring together speakers with disparate views in an attempt to solve problems as an inspiration.

“He was one of the forces behind the Great Climate March, he walks his talk, he’s literally walking the line,” Mattingly said.

Fallon’s work to bring Iowans together and move the state forward is representative of what Mattingly sees as being important about Earth Day. As she listened to the music Friday night, Mattingly said she wants people to remember that they’re all connected with one another.

“For me, it punctuates how we are all connected to each other, human and plant,” Mattingly said. “I hope we can continue to think thoughtfully about how everything we do has an impact on something, somewhere.”

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com