The greenest day


Saturday offers multiple means of helping the environment

This Saturday with a little planning you can have the greenest day possible — and all of it takes place downtown.

Step 1: River cleanup

What: “Help Our Habitat”: 19th Annual White River Cleanup

Where: meet at the Indianapolis Zoo

When: Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon (plus lunch)

For more:

During the past 19 years, 6,000 volunteers have collected and disposed of more than 1.5 million tons of trash. This year, you can add to that total by helping Indy Greenways clear trash and debris along the banks of White River downtown. Volunteers get lunch, lots of satisfaction and a T-shirt. Cleanup activities will be along the route of the future South White River Trail.

Step 2: Step it up

What: Step It Up 2007

Where: Monument Circle, Indianapolis (for more local info:

Who: speakers include Dr. Gabriel Filippelli (professor of geology and chairman of the IUPUI Department of Earth Science), the Rev. Dr. Keith Adkins (pastor of Church of the Savior United Methodist Church), Ed Cohen (chair, Care for Creation committee, Interfaith Alliance Indianapolis)

When: Saturday, 1-2 p.m.

For more: Check out all 14 Indiana Step It Up rallies at

If you’re in favor of the health of the planet, and you’re keen on the idea of a viable future, Step It Up is the rally for you. Author and activist Bill McKibben and friends aim to mobilize tens of thousands at over 1,300 events in 50 states through Step It Up 2007, a national day of climate action. The Step It Up platform calls on Congress to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. Reducing carbon outputs just 2 percent per year is do-able with an embrace of renewable energy.

McKibben’s latest book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, addresses the root cause of global warming: lifestyles built on finite resources. He spared a moment to talk with NUVO.

NUVO: A key idea of your new book is that our current economic model is unsustainable and, worse, does not contribute to our happiness. Can you elaborate?

BM: We’re very used to the idea that more is better; it’s the default assumption of our society. But aside from the environmental impact of constant economic expansion, there’s lots of relatively new research to show that growth is no longer making people particularly happy — indeed, despite their ever-increasing affluence, Americans are less pleased with their lives than they were 50 years ago. And it seems, in part, because that affluence (the move to the suburbs, for instance) has diminished our sense of community.

NUVO: You say we’ve substituted oil for people. What do you mean by that?

BM: Look at our farms. We have less than 1 percent of Americans farming — far fewer farmers than prisoners. In large measure that’s because we’ve replaced farmers with oil: fertilizer, tractor fuel, all the other components of industrial agriculture. It’s brought us cheap food for the moment (probably too cheap — notice our waistlines) but at enormous environmental cost. That’s why it’s heartening to see that the fastest growing part of the food economy is farmers markets.

NUVO: What do you want from our next president?

BM: I want her or him to pay attention to basic physics and chemistry. The fingers-in-the-ears approach seems not to be working. Mostly, though, I want citizens to be so active that whoever the next president is will have to take on these issues, especially climate change. That’s why we’re doing

NUVO: How are you structuring Step It Up to engage today’s activist or potential activist?

BM: We’re doing it locally, instead of a march on Washington, and then we’re going to link all those marches together into a great cascade of images on the Web. It liberated people to think incredibly creatively — I mean, underwater demonstrations off coral reefs! It’s a new model of distributed protest politics.

NUVO: What’s the best possible outcome for Step It Up 2007?

BM: That we raise the bar on what’s acceptable action on climate issues, making it harder for industry and their congressional cronies to cut sweetheart deals that delay action past the point of no return!

—Interview by Anne LakeR

Step 3: Preserving nature with art

What: Preserving Nature

Where: Artsgarden in Circle Centre Mall

When: Saturday, 5-7 p.m.

Admission: $10

For more:

The Central Indiana Land Trust, Inc. (CILTI) is one of the most effective environmental organizations you’ll find. How so? They literally buy land to preserve nature. One way to see the lands that CILTI is currently preserving is to view the landscapes through the eyes of Hoosier artists. Fifteen of Indiana’s finest landscape artists have each produced two paintings from scenes in the Central Indiana Land Trust’s nature preserves. Art show attendees will be the first to see these beautiful paintings of the land that CILTI has worked so hard to protect — paintings that will eventually be sold, benefiting CILTI.

In addition to the paintings, Preserving Nature also features keynote speaker Stephanie Mills, author of In Praise of Nature: Whatever Happened to Ecology? and In Service of the Wild: Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land.