ES Community Center celebrates Earth Day
The Eureka Springs Community Center brought everyone together to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday, April 24.
Featuring booths on bees, monarch butterflies and native plants, the event kicked off with a speech by community center board chairwoman Debbie Davis. Davis thanked everyone for attending the event, where the community center unveiled the Old School Park for the first time. Davis then welcomed Mayor Butch Berry to the stage to give the Earth Day proclamation.
“He’s probably, in this room, the person who has spent the most time on this campus,” Davis said.
Berry said he started first grade at the old high school campus, now the site of the community center.
“None of these buildings were here,” Berry said. “We were still in the main building that got demolished several years ago. I am so proud to see what the community center has done for these buildings and put new life back into them. That’s always something we need.”
Berry said it takes a gallon of gasoline to create eight bricks.
“So every time you tear down a building made of bricks, you’re basically throwing away all of that energy,” Berry said. “When you’re able to reuse those buildings, you’re saving that energy and reusing it again. That’s something I always try to remember in preservation and adaptive reuse.”
Berry said Eureka Springs is all about recycling. In fact, Berry said, Eureka Springs has one of the first recycling centers in the state of Arkansas.
“We’re still having the state come up and point to our recycling center with pride and that’s because of the community supporting that,” Berry said.
Eureka Springs is a Tree City and a Bee City, Berry said. He said the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is working to create an environment where monarch butterflies and bees can thrive.
“I’m real proud of not only what … the city is doing, but all of y’all, too,” Berry said. “Without our community, we wouldn’t be able to do this. We’re real blessed to have a community that cares about our environment.”
Berry said the city is working with Entegrity on a solar energy project.
“Although we can’t actually have our own solar cells here, we’re able to work in conjunction — and this is a novel concept, too — with another city, Berryville, to have a solar farm we can tap into that will help us save energy costs,” Berry said.
Those savings will then be passed on to citizens, he said.
“We’re all doing our share, doing as much as we can,” Berry said.
After Berry read the Earth Day proclamation, Davis thanked locals Christopher Fischer, Mariellen Griffith and Sabina Miller for their help leading up to the event. Davis said Griffith and Miller have been “working their green thumbs” in the community center’s greenhouse.
Davis described several improvements at the community center, including the renovated office park, the greenhouse and improved lighting in the gymnasium.
“If you haven’t been here since it was a school building, you need to go into some of these rooms down here,” Davis said.
Davis then introduced Grammy-nominated flutist John Two-Hawks, who described his connection to the environment as an indigenous person. Two-Hawks remembered a story his grandfather told him when he was young.
“He said, ‘You know, grandson, a long time ago, a squirrel could jump on a tree on the coast of the Atlantic and hop from treetop to treetop to treetop and never touch the ground until the Mississippi River,’ “ Two-Hawks said. “That’s how vast the forest on the eastern side of North America once was.”
Many of those trees are gone today, Two-Hawks said.
“Each generation does something to the Earth, and if we take things away, the next generation may not remember what was, so they think what is has always been,” Two-Hawks said. “It’s important to share the stories of what once was so we remember how important it is.”
Nothing is disposable, Two-Hawks said.
“How many of you remember your grandparents saving aluminum foil?” Two-Hawks said. “That thing you toss in the trash can goes somewhere. That’s important to remember in everything you do.”
The community center is dedicated to sustainable practices, Davis said, and always welcomes input from citizens.
“We want to include your ideas, so please reach out to a board member. Reach out to me and let us know what you’d like to see up here,” Davis said. “The community center can be the crown jewel of the city if we make it that way.”
For more information on the community center, visit www.ESCommunity.org.