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Year after year, the Standing Rock Cultural Arts "Who's Your Mama" Earth Day Festival to remind people how important it is to protect Mother Earth. Standing Rock with the support of the City of Kent and Kent Parks and Recreation will host a series of events starting today through Earth Day on April 22.
Environmental Film Festival
The Environmental Film Festival kicks off from 6:30 to 9 p.m. today in the Kiva Auditorium in the Kent State University Student Center.
Feature film, "Landfill Harmonic" by American filmmaker Brad Allgood follows Paraguayan people who lived on the edge of a landfill and created instruments made entirely out of garbage. The group formed the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura and is now selling out arenas worldwide.
"They ended up forming an orchestra and touring the world," said Jeff Ingram, Standing Rock Cultural Arts director. "It's a phenomenal rags to riches story."
Standout short, "Mni Wiconi" tells the struggles of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protect water in North Dakota.
The tribe has been in national news lately for protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Interviews in the film include Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault, Jodi Gillette, former White House advisor for Native American Affairs and Ladonna Allard, founder of Sacred Stone Camp.
"It comes straight from the people," Ingram said. "It shows how we need to protect water, especially here we have the Great Lakes. Water is life."
Environmental Art Exhibit
Original artwork by seven regional artists are featured in this year's Environmental Art Exhibit, which runs through May at Standing Rock's North Water Street Gallery.
"This year we have some brand new people that have never exhibited before," Ingram said. "We're really happy to show off their work."
An entire wall in the gallery is dedicated to trees. Poems by Kent elementary students are mounted on the wall around area artist Jim VandenBoom's wood sculpture art.
Vegan Iron Chef IX Competition
On April 21, six local chefs will compete to create the best tasty vegan dish. Don King, two-time Vegan Iron Chef Winner, said this year's main ingredient is barley.
Each chef will be allowed two burners and two assistants to cook a vegan-inspired entree. King's brother-in-law will fly in from Seattle to serve as his sous chef.
"My meal usually revolves around what I can find in the wild," said King, a longtime environmentalist. "It's about harvesting things sustainably, so we don't ruin the populations of some things we have around here and doing it in a gentle manner, so we have resources in the future."
Standing Rock will provide produce as well as the mystery ingredient, which is revealed to chefs a day before competition. The judging is based on flavor, presentation, use of locally-grown, organic food and originality.
This year's judges include Rick Rhodes, Mustard Seed Cafe chef, and Rockne Becker of Rock Fresh Catering. The main event, which features free vegan samples from local restaurants and chef speakers, will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the United Church of Christ in Kent.
Main Street Block Party
The Earth Day Festival will culminate in a community-wide Main Street Block Party and parade from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 22.
Downtown Kent's Main Street will be closed off for environmental vendors, a parade of eco heroes, music, children's poetry and alternative energy displays.
This year's parade, which begins at 2 p.m., carries the theme of bicycles. Area artist Vince Parckard will also lead a workshop.
"He's making life-size costumes and attaching them to bicycles," Ingram said. "These bicycles are not your normal bicycles."
"We call it the block party," Ingram said. "The Kent Parks and Rec Hip Hop Troop will be doing hula-hooping and really bring an uplifting spirit. This is beautiful planet Earth. Every day is a celebration."