Live Earth

Chico does it the sustainable way

LESS IS MORE<br>A number of planet-friendly people celebrated their own Live Earth concert Saturday at Children’s Park in Chico, and they did it in a notably “green” fashion.

A number of planet-friendly people celebrated their own Live Earth concert Saturday at Children’s Park in Chico, and they did it in a notably “green” fashion.

Photo By Emanuella Orr

While the rest of the world watched Live Earth concerts that promoted sustainability, Chico held a concert that was sustainability in practice.

Live Earth, as just about everybody knows, was an international effort spanning 129 countries on seven continents. Around the world, big-name celebrities plugged in amps and turned on the bright lights in flashy shows designed to attract television viewers and teach them how to conserve energy and fight global warming.

Meanwhile, Chico’s Live Earth concert Saturday afternoon (July 7) in the shady groves of downtown’s Children’s Park was a demonstration of how to put on a concert using almost no energy.

“Chico’s really a model for a lot of other cities for how it can be done,” said Luke Thomas, who played lead guitar for the featured band, Phoenix and Afterbuffalo.

Mayor Andy Holcombe, Jim Brobeck, Sherri Quammen and other activists took the stage to talk about the little things everyone can do to help with climate change: keep the air conditioner off, don’t drive if your destination is less than a mile away, use public transportation, reduce waste, buy energy-efficient appliances and shop locally.

These were pretty much the same messages delivered at the larger concerts, but it was the earthy humbleness of the Chico event that showed that the town does what the big-name celebrities and politicians only say they are going to do.

For example, the event, sponsored by the Chico Peace and Justice Center, was catered by Food Not Bombs, which uses produce donated from Chico Natural Foods, S & S Produce, Trader Joe’s and Grilla Bites that would otherwise be thrown away. Food Not Bombs also made a point to bring real dishes to the concert instead of using disposable plates. They even carted everything out to Children’s Park in trailers hitched to a couple of bicycles.

Everyone who attended seemed to share Food Not Bombs’ commitment. Many of the audience members arrived on bicycles or skateboards, and Phoenix and Afterbuffalo carpooled up from the Bay Area. Did Madonna and members of the Black Eyed Peas and the Red Hot Chili Peppers carpool to London?

The music in Chico was low-key and included the talents of Koz McKev, Nick Bearden and Bryn Loosely of Buffalo Creek, Kirsten Rose and The Garden, and Phoenix and Afterbuffalo.

Of course, it had a slightly different reach than the international event: about 75 people at any one time, instead of millions.

“This event is sparsely attended, but it’s really caught some key players,” said audience member Lani Lila, who rode her bicycle to the concert. Lila said she tries to reduce energy use any way she can. For example, she doesn’t use an air conditioner; instead, she dips herself several times a day into a 110-gallon trough that she keeps in her back yard. She said that her body just gets used to the heat.

People forget how adaptable the human body is, Lila said. She points to Iraq, where temperatures exceed 100 degrees six months out of the year, and most people don’t have air-conditioning. Iraqis survive the heat by wearing scarves dipped in cold water.

Luckily, she didn’t have to resort to that on Saturday, the first cool day Chico had received in weeks. The people who did decide to attend Live Earth spent a lazy afternoon reclining in the shade, dancing and enjoying the casual music and the summer breezes.