Edge of the west
When Earth Day Met the Promenade Head On
By Ron Scott Smith
Apr 13, 2008 - 6:15:35 PM

When Earth Day Met The Promenade Head On (with Saturday bringing Earth Day back to Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade, the following is an account of one of the earlier events, which ran in this publication in 2003)                                                                                               The varied stores, restaurants and theaters of the 3rd Street Promenade provided the backdrop for a gathering of environmentalists and Mother Earth loyalists, whose booths formed a line from one end of the shopping center to the other, on "Earth Day at The Promenade." It was a prelim to the main event being celebrated internationally to draw attention to the excesses of consumerism, along with other stated objectives.

As activists and celebrants mingled with weekend shoppers and diners, stark contrasts could be drawn between the exhibitors in their temporary spaces along the center, and the merchants in their permanent ones on both sides of the walkway.

If you entered the Promenade at its north end, you passed the main stage and nerve center of the event, powered by a portable solar generator about the size of your front door, while the two sprawling structures flanking it, Banana Republic on one side, and Barnes and Noble on the other, were fueled more conventionally, through massive high-voltage power lines from Southern Cal Edison.

Next to the stage, Westside Green Party members handed out fliers on living wage and other local battles while sitting on folding wooden chairs, directly in front of the Restoration Hardware Fine Furniture Store, which offered a nutmeg leather couch from the Morgan Collection at the sale price of $3,695.

A little further down, the Black Mesa Coalition, a partnership of the Hopi and Navajo Nations, was raising funds to help preserve the water tables in their northern Arizona reservations by selling inexpensive, hand-made moccasins. They could almost reach out and touch the Reebok Store on their western flank, with its "A.I.3" sneakers showcased in the window at the weekend-bargain rate of $169 per pair.

Next to them, Agape International Center offered spiritual guidance at their space while a large empty venue across from them had a sign on its dusty window that said this: "Opening Soon ”¦ World-Renowned Barney's Beanery/ Santa Monica- serving beer from around the globe."

Jerry Rubin's Alliance for Survival group was present, handing out all things peace. Across the way, one of the Mann 6 Theaters was showing "House of 1000 Corpses," and a blood-curdling poster that hailed it as "the Most Shocking Tale of Human Carnage Ever Seen" was hanging on their wall some 50 feet from the Alliance For Survival's peace table.

Whole Foods Markets had a booth labeled "Organically Yours." It was sandwiched between McDonalds on one side, Johnny Rockets on the other. A few stalls down, Organic Express, an organization that delivers certified organic produce to homes and offices, was set up next to the Krispy Kreme kiosk, where soft, hot-glazed doughnuts were not available for delivery.

A coffee house, anti-war teach-in group flew a banner which said - "Stop U.S. Wars," in a space next to the Promenade newsstand, where a special-edition, high-gloss magazine was on sale as a collectors' item for ten bucks, titled simply - "War On Iraq." The blurbs on its cover identified these articles that could be found within: "America Strikes," "Flexing US Military Might," and "Is North Korea Next?"

Lightweight, all-natural pullovers went for ten dollars at the stall of an alternative clothier called Minawear Hemp, situated just outside Wilson's House of Leather, where a Pelle Crafts lambskin jacket hung on the clearance rack for $550.

If you were leaving the Promenade that afternoon as the sun began its descent, you might have caught environmental singer and lyre player, Jaiia, speaking between songs through that solar-powered sound system on the main stage. She asked the crowd to ask themselves - "What can I simplify in my lovely consumption?" And then she sang.

(Ron Scott Smith can be reached at edgeofthewest@aol.com.

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