The Virginia Cooperative Extension table was a busy place. Molly Newling, manning the table covered with information about trees, said people had been coming all day with questions about plant identification, why their tree had died and could it come back to life (probably not) and with inquiries about the spotted lanternfly which is a new invasive coming in. “It’s really a nuisance. It sucks the sap out of plants, especially fruit trees.” She said right now they are asking people to report where they see the lanternflies to help track the population.
Angela McNamara, another Virginia Extension volunteer, helps a man who has brought several leaves for identification and who wants to know to whether this plant is attractive to butterflies and birds. It is identified as a butterfly bush which will attract adults but will not host the caterpillars. McNamara explains the butterflies will eat the pollen but not lay their eggs on the plant. “It’s only one portion of the four-stage life cycle.”
At the end of the block a large white art truck is spotted with green, yellow and blue magnets representing a number of joys recorded by an individual on a small red clicker. A nine-year-old sits on a metal chair with his clicker while he punches once for the brownie he just ate, several times for his dog Sophie, again for hockey. When he is finished he will get the color of magnet that corresponds to his number of joys and will find a place to stick it on the Count Your Joys Truck.
The concept of the “Count Your Joys” truck was developed by artist Heloisa Escudero who was looking for something that would encourage people to think positively. She was playing with a clicker one day and thought “why not have people count their joys.” She says, “It isn’t about the number of joys; it’s about the experience.”
The truck is sponsored by the Arlington Department of Cultural Affairs according to Cynthia Connolly, Special Projects Curator. She says they have four different projects a year and go to places where people convene like farmer’s markets, festivals and parks. Connolly says the project was really designed for adults, people who work along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. “It would be a better world if we would all do art. It’s easy to get kids to do this but more difficult to convince adults to try it.”
Between the booths selling Indian jewelry and hand-crafted pots sits a table advertising “climate anxiety counseling 5 cents.” Meredith Haynes from the Citizens Climate Lobby is encouraging people to use the tax credit incentives in The Inflation Reduction Act to get upgrades of electrical appliances. One of the goals of their organization is to urge County Board Members to join local government leaders for electrification.
The music of the Honey Larks trio blasts out down the block— “Tried my hand at the Bible, It’s gonna bring my soul to bear.”
The Recycled Bag Lady sits at her table piled high with colorful crocheted bags woven entirely out of recycled plastic bags. She says it takes close to 15 hours and 35 plastic bags to produce one of these crocheted bags. She says people send her bags from all over the country and they come from family and friends “and I rescue them from recycle bins. I just collect them and put different things together. For instance, the turquoise in this bag comes from Walmart and the purple from a family store in Pittsburgh. The white is from Giant.”
The Langston Boulevard Alliance, which sponsored the event said, “Let’s come together as a community to celebrate the beauty and the promise of our local environment and the planet. Every year communities worldwide uplift Earth Day to mark the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. It reminds us all to do what we can, in ways small and significant, restore, conserve and protect our environment.”