By WENDELL HUTSON
The Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) celebrated Earth Day last week by debuting a film festival that will now become an annual event.
This year millions of people globally gathered on April 22, to celebrate the planet’s environment and raise public awareness about pollution. The JPAC along with the City of Chicago, local National Public Radio affiliate WBEZ, Redfin, and The Nature Conservancy, presented “City Dark” at its Earth Day event. The documentary talked about the environment and what elements could harm and improve the world.
“This was our first film we showed as part of our Earth Day event, and we plan to make this annual,” said Louise McCurry, JPAC president. “What I like most about this event was seeing so many different people from all walks of life, neighborhoods and cultures.”
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is 2020 and McCurry said she hopes to see more young people attending by then. Fifty people including a handful of youth attended the two-hour event at the Jackson Park field house, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.
“They [youth] are our future and they will be the ones left behind to carry on these events,” McCurry said. “That’s why we want to get as many young people involved as possible.”
One youth, Scott Taylor, 16, said he initially came to the field house to play basketball but ended up staying to watch the film.
“It was kind of cool learning about baby turtles and the importance lights play to the environment,” Taylor said. “I’m no environment buff but I do care what happens to our Earth.”
Before the film was shown Michael Strautmanis, vice president of Civic Engagement at The Barack Obama Foundation, told attendees how important the environment is to President Barack Obama.
“The president and first lady have strong feelings about the environment and protecting it,” Strautmanis said. “The creation of his presidential library in Jackson Park will not only create jobs and a renewed interest in Jackson Park, but will also show the world the love he [Barack Obama] has for the environment.”
After the film a question and answer session followed with McCurry and Naomi Davis, president of Blacks in Green.
“This is our world and [we] will have to do right by the environment if we don’t want things to get any worse,” Davis said . “Green is a healthy color and we should always think about Earth when we see something green.”
The goal of the event, McCurry said, was to educate people about Earth and why it is vital that everyone does their part to keep the environment safe.
Longtime Jackson Park resident Walter Kindred, 68, agreed.
“I grew up in [the] Jackson Park Highland [neighborhood] and I have seen a lot of things during my time on Earth. One thing I know is that things like trees, plants, lights, and clean air play a bigger part in our lives than we think,” Kindred said. “If you think about it we would have a difficult time living on Earth without these things. That’s why instead of destroying it we need to nurture them and try to learn new ways to expand energy.”