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Millerton Earth Day 2021 delivers more than just fun

The Millerton News Editorial

We’ve all heard it before: “We only have one earth, so let’s do our best to take care of it.”

Of course, it makes sense, right? That’s why an estimated 1 billion people in more than 192 countries around the world participate in Earth Day, recognized annually on April 22. This year in the Harlem Valley, individual communities are celebrating Mother Earth in their own special ways. 

Right here in northeastern Dutchess County, the North East/Millerton Climate Smart Task Force (CSTF) has made it its mission for residents throughout the town and village to honor Earth Day with a slew of educational, entertaining and community-minded in-person and virtual activities (for more, read this week’s front page and Page A2). Scheduled for Thursday, April 22; Saturday, April 24; and Wednesday, April 28; Millerton’s Earth Day celebration is guaranteed not only to occur rain or shine, but to make a lasting imprint on those who take part.

One of the volunteers who helped coordinate the multi-day event is CSTF member Jennifer Dowley, who said that after last year’s Earth Day celebration was canceled due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic shutting down public functions, the task force regrouped, putting all of its efforts into this year’s event — and into its just launched climate smart website, www.climatesmartmillerton.org, but more on that in a moment.

It took an immense amount of planning, not simply from those volunteering on the CSTF, led by Coordinator Kathy Chow, but also from those who coordinated activities and events with the task force throughout the community, from the many local farms that planned tours at their facilities to the NorthEast-Millerton Library that set up story hours and gave away free seeds to home gardeners to the Kent Memorial Library that hosted a special lecture to the yoga studio and local businesses that offered free workshops to The Moviehouse that sold tickets to an environmentally-themed documentary to the Ford dealership that showcased an electric Mustang on Century Boulevard for excited future EV drivers to check out to the many merchants that set up jars on their counters to collects dollar bills and change to help buy trees for the currently under-renovation Eddie Collins Park. 

The CSTF is hoping to raise $60,000 to buy and tend to 100 new trees at the park for a year after planting them in the fall. According to Dowley, Oblong Books & Music owner Dick Hermans said he would set aside 10% of the store’s profits from the Earth Day weekend for the tree project, a testament of the village’s community spirit.

A really great example of that community spirit, though, can be found online, at the task force’s new website: www.climatesmartmillerton.org. 

Rarely has this paper been so impressed by the work of a volunteer group formed by coordinating municipalities — congrats to the North East Town Board and to the Millerton Village Board for doing so and for appointing such well-educated, capable and dedicated members. 

At the top of the website, it simply states: “How North East and Millerton can become more resilient to a warmer, more volatile climate.” 

There are multiple tabs on the website for those who would like to learn more about how to “Do Something,”  “Our Climate,” “Resources,” “Community” and “About.” Within the “Do Something” tab, one can get more in-depth and read about “Individuals and Families,” “Businesses, Farms and Institutions” or “Government.” 

Under each of those options there are even more categories to delve into regarding climate change. The website is well researched and offers loads of information, yet it’s easy to understand and not too complicated for a layperson. It is extremely well done and promises to be an incredible resource for the community. 

We are so impressed with the North East/Millerton Climate Smart Task Force. Not only has it planned a spectacular celebration for Earth Day 2021 for the entire community — young and old alike (during a major health crisis — no small feat) — but it has provided a valuable resource that residents will be sure to lean on now and well into the future. 

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