Earth Hour Community Gathering

In 2013, individuals, business and institutions in more than 7000 cities and towns across 152 countries & territories participated in the global initiative Earth Hour - turning off lights on landmarks and homes in former war-torn countries to the great cities of Europe, and going beyond the hour to bring attention to resource use. This year in Lethbridge, the Galt Museum & Archives is partnering with the University of Lethbridge Environmental Sciences Club to create a free community gathering for Earth Hour on Saturday, March 29 from 7:30 – 9:30 pm.

“The Environmental Sciences Club at the University of Lethbridge expressed an interest in helping to put on a community Earth Hour happening,” says Anine Vonkeman, Marketing/Communications Officer for the Galt and a member of its Green Team, “and approached us with some great ideas.”

Volunteers from the club and the Galt will welcome people indoors at 7:30 pm where family-friendly activities will focus on sustainability. At 8:15 pm everyone will move outside for a count-down to lights off at 8:30 pm – the global start time of Earth Hour.

“Outdoors we will make s’mores – we’ve brought in a giant jar of Nutella for the occasion, have some music, games, hot chocolate and coffee sponsored by Express Coffee and Tea until 9:30 pm,” says Richard Belchamber, a member of the ESC which has received sponsorship support from the U of L Students’ Union for this event. “Participants are encouraged to bring along their own cup, plate or bowl for snacks, and drum or other noisemaker, as well as an optional light-source such as a dynamo or solar flashlight, soy-based or beeswax candles.”

There was a time when global power use had a negligible impact but with an increasing population comes increased demand for natural resources. Earth Hour brings attention to the collective global impact of minimizing resource use that goes beyond turning off lights for an hour. It has evolved from a symbolic action into a continuous movement driving big and small actions.

Earth Hour was started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when more than 2.2 million individuals and 2,000 businesses turned their lights out for one hour. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide, and the one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement. Earth Hour 2014 will mark the eighth year of the campaign. In Canada, Edmonton has been named National Earth Hour Capital for 2014.

“The Galt has participated in Earth Hour for the past four years and encourages staff, volunteers, and others to participate as well, and to go beyond the hour,” says Vonkeman. “We’d love to see other local organizations and businesses get involved too.”

For Earth Hour the Galt shuts off its lights on the 1910 Galt Hospital façade, as well as all other non-essential lights. The east façade lights are also shut off daily at 1:00 am following facility rentals. Other sustainability initiatives at the Galt include LED lighting in exhibits and other areas, motion activated lighting, using low VOC and recycled materials wherever possible, and a recycling program among others.

Environmental sustainability is one of the five facets of sustainability recently outlined by the Alberta Museums’ Association which have been incorporated into the Galt’s 2015-2025 Strategic Plan.

Anine VonkemanComment