Earth Day organizers hope to increase awareness

The Dallas Examiner

Air, water and land are the primary elements for sustaining life on Earth. Since 1970, environmentalists have been part of a global movement to bring awareness to the life-sustaining elements of the environment and the link between pollution and public health.

In 2011, Trammell S. Crow organized Earth Day Texas is an attempt to get business leaders and environmental leaders together to precipitate positive movement, content or change, declared Ryan Brown, CEO of the nonprofit organization.

EDTx is a free public event in which organizers expressed its goal of spreading “environmental awareness by curating an atmosphere for conscious business, nonpartisan collaboration and community-driven sustainable solutions.” It will be held April 21 through April 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Fair Park

The financial and ecological issues are ones that some might argue fit right in with those being investigated and solved in the Fair Park area. For example, when it comes to the oft-raised issue of bringing more minority students into STEM programs, the National Society of Black Engineers DFW chapter ascribes its mission on its website, “To increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

Additionally, the local company that originally created the product Bonton Honey has transformed into Bonton Farms, “a sustainable and vibrant urban farm” in a low-income sector of the city classified by the USDA as a food desert, per their website. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing – a tiny house community created by the relief agency CitySquare to get homeless individuals off the street and into housing where they can receive therapy and counseling and regain a sense of community – fits into the ideals EDGTx espouses as well.

The CEO described the event as an “accelerator, or megaphone” for these types of issues.

“As far as an attendee standpoint, if we look at participation, we’ve got college, university-type schools; we’ve got legal and law, all the way to small, nonprofit organizations … to all-sized, for-profit corporations and companies as well,” he said.

Brown said that such partnerships will create educational opportunities for attendees of the expo.

“So we look to reach as many people as possible, and have as deep an impact in the community here locally, but also we’re slowly becoming this destination event which is reaching to a national and international scale,” he continued.

Data provided by the organization revealed that the 2016 exposition showcased approximately 800 exhibitors and 250 speakers, drawing more than 130,000 attendees.

One standout event involving many local youth is Earthack, featuring the Metroplex-based technology group HackDFW.

“We teamed up with them and we designed a progress for solutions-building in the environmental space,” the CEO explained. EDTx is touting Earthack as a platform to bring 1,200 college and high school students to the event to solve within 36 hours current real-life issues burdening the world.

“But what’s so neat about it is all the solutions are going to be with a positive environmental impact in mind,” Brown mentioned, as the participants employ the 1 million-plus square feet in and around the Embarcadero and Creative Arts buildings to develop their solutions. “I truly believe all the results are going to be widely known. It will be open to the public so the public can actually cruise through while the hackers are doing what they do.”

Across Nimitz Drive will be the K-12 education building, Brown acknowledged.

“Imagine that you’ve got K through 12 across the street and then you’ve got this hackathon going on, and then you’ve got kids doing Lego activation Build The Change – it’s just got all this creative stuff going on in that part of Fair Park.”

Also present will be tiny house areas – consisting of small, portable, eco-friendly living spaces usually built by the owners at low cost and most often smaller than 500 square feet – for visitors to explore.

“Last year it was quite a buzz,” he said. “This year we’ve got 12 to 13 do-it-yourself tiny houses where people actually live in these. We’ll have them set up in two little villages, if you will, at the event, as well as a third tiny house area which will have the professional builders and commercial builders of the tiny houses where you can actually meet people and possibly see what you can do to have one of these of your own.”

EDTx has also secured the Texas Discovery Garden for the entirety of the affair.

“That will be free and open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so for families that are coming it’s just wonderful to have that available to the community,” Brown said of the attraction most notable for its indoor butterfly habitat and collection of native reptiles.

Among other initiatives is EARTHxFilm, a documentary environmental film festival that will screen more than 30 films throughout the course of the event, with filmmakers in attendance.

In addition, there will be an alternative fuel vehicle conference, a solar car remote control challenge, a legal symposium of 300 attorneys for a daylong conference on policy and what the new presidential administration may bring, and a scuba diving pool spotlighting diver and ocean conservationist Sylvia Earle.

Food will be available as well, the organizer confirmed. A farmers market will be located in Big Tex Circle, and other edibles will be represented at the Savor Dallas Sustainable Food Market as North Texas chefs provide tastings of healthy and fresh creations. The Sustainable Beer Garden will showcase local and boutique brewers promoting some of the area’s most environmentally responsible beverages.

“I think one of the things we’ve learned while trying to bring this to a national level, what we’re doing here in Dallas, is how involved the business community needs to be in this discussion,” Brown said. “What we’ve learned from the nonprofit organizations as well as the business community, if we can come up with an economic stimulus, or a value-add to the business community that has a positive economic impact, we’ll do it.”

He mentioned that there are now leaders at Fortune 500 companies who are attempting to create a beneficial environmental impact due to such collaborations that EDTX similarly offers.

“So really, I think the goal is – if we can change the business community – I think we’ve got a really good chance of accelerating positive environmental impact in this world.”

Some select conferences and other special events at EDTx will require a separate admission fee. More information can be found at http://www.earthdaytx.org or by calling 214-310-1200.

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