Tomorrow (Thursday, April 22) is the 51st Earth Day. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, a direct descendant of the 1960s antiwar protests. Twenty million Americans demonstrated in cities across the country. In 1990, Earth Day went global. The Paris Agreement was signed on Earth Day 2016. Today about 1 billion people in nearly 200 countries take part in some kind of Earth Day activity or event. Last year’s Earth Day, the 50th, was the largest online mass mobilization in history.
To be honest, we almost forgot about Earth Day this year. The Derek Chauvin trial, the killing by police of Daunte Wright, unrest in Brooklyn Center, the heavy police and military presence of Operation Safety Net and the pandemic were taking up most of our brain space. The Science Museum of Minnesota had planned a Virtual Science Celebration for Earth Day evening; on Tuesday afternoon, they postponed it “out of respect for our community as we await the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.”
We’ll let you know when they reschedule. Meanwhile, the verdict is in, the sun is shining (at least, it is on Tuesday afternoon, as we write this), and here are a half-dozen Earth Day events, mostly virtual. This year’s theme: Restore Our Earth.
V Tonight (Wednesday, April 21), 7:30 p.m.: Nat Geo’s Earth Day Eve 2021: A Virtual Celebration. Jessica Nabongo hosts, with performances by Angelique Kidjo, Willie Nelson, Yo-Yo Ma and more, appearances by Nat Geo Explorers including Dr. Jane Goodall and environmentalist Lillygol Sedaghat, and stories. Watch at NatGeo or Nat Geo’s YouTube channel. Nabongo, a travel influencer, is the first documented Black woman to travel to every country in the world.
L Anytime in April: Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board: DIY Earth Day Clean-Up Event. It’s not Earth Day if you don’t leave the place a little better than you found it. Need supplies? Pick up bags, gloves and clean-up instructions on Saturday, April 24, from 9:30 a.m. until noon at the locations listed here. Practice social distancing and other current COVID-19 guidelines.
V Now streaming on demand on Apple TV+: “The Year Earth Changed,” narrated by David Attenborough. Wild turkeys in Minneapolis. Coyotes in St. Paul. Foxes in Edina. Deer where they’re not supposed to be. Penguins in the Como Park Conservatory. (OK, that was on purpose, to give the little guys some exercise.) A year of humans living in lockdown has opened the door for nature all over the world. Filmed on five continents, this new documentary reveals an unexpected boon of the pandemic. It’s been good for the earth. Here’s the trailer.
V Starts tomorrow (Thursday, April 22) on demand: MSP Film and The Great Northern: “The Great Green Wall.” Malian singer Inna Modja takes us on a music-driven journey along Africa’s Great Green Wall, a hugely ambitious plan to grow a 5,000-mile “wall” of trees stretching across the entire continent to restore land and provide a future for millions of people. Your ticket includes a conversation with Modja, filmmaker Jared P. Scott, and Jackie Faherty of the American Museum of Natural History. FMI, trailer and tickets ($12/9 members). Use the code TGNGREEN21, get $2 off.
V Starts tomorrow on demand: The Parkway Theater: “The Race to Save the World.” Emmy winner Joe Gantz’s documentary is an intimate, inspiring portrait of activists ages 15-72 who are putting themselves on the line to fight climate change. Here’s the trailer. FMI and tickets ($12).
V Tomorrow at 7 p.m.: Magers & Quinn: Earth Day Livestream: Kawai Strong Washburn and Jonathan C. Slaght in Conversation. Both Washburn, the author of “Sharks in the Time of Saviors,” and Slaght, author of “Owls of the Eastern Ice,” are recent PEN America award winners. They’ll have an Earth Day conversation about their respective books and the relationship between people and nature. Watch on Facebook or Youtube.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
V Now through January 2022 at ALL ARTS: “Afrofuturism: Blackness Revisualized” Film Festival. Whether your first exposure to Afrofuturism was the film “Black Panther” or you’ve been steeped in it since Sun Ra came on the scene from outer space, this months-long online film festival is essential viewing. Curated by filmmaker, visual artist and Black futurist Celia C. Peters, it includes 10 films from 5 countries, an explainer video (“Afrofuturism 101”), filmmaker conversations, companion essays and a Spotify playlist. Here’s the introduction, and here are the films.
V Tonight (Wednesday, April 21) 7 p.m.: UMN English Writers Series: Celebrating Creative Writing Faculty Books. Here’s where the faculty gets to show off a little. All have published new books this spring. With Peter Campion (“One Summer Evening at the Falls: Poems”), Douglas Kearney (“Sho: Poems”), Kathryn Nuernberger (“The Witch of Eye: Essays”) and Kim Todd (“Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s ‘Girl Stunt Reporters’”). Free with registration.
V Thursday, April 22, 7 p.m. CST: 2021 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert. The NEA Jazz Masters Award, given annually by the National Endowment for the Arts, is the highest honor our nation bestows on our jazz artists. This year’s honorees are drummer, composer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington, percussionist and educator Albert “Tootie” Heath, jazz archivist, historian and radio host Phil Schaap, and saxophonist, flautist, composer and Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Threadgill, an artist the Walker feted in 2019 with “Celebrating Henry: A Threadgill Festival.” Livestreamed to the world, this star-studded concert will be co-hosted by NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater and actor Delroy Lindo; Miguel Zenón is music director. Performers will include Wynton and Jason Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano, Avishai Cohen, Linda May Han Oh, Danilo Pérez, Lizz Wright, and other jazz greats. It will be widely broadcast. View it at the NEA’s website, SFJAZZ, NPR Music, or WBGO, to name a few. Watch for a video testimonial from Minneapolis-based composer and cellist Michelle Kinney, and stay around after for a talk with this year’s masters. Free.