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Earth Day events kick off early in Tampa

Forget about Earth Day. Tampa is celebrating Earth Month.

Several eco-friendly activities are planned throughout April to get people thinking green, from Saturday's Green Expo at the University of South Florida to Earth Day activities in downtown Tampa.

The events bring together green-minded businesses and people to raise awareness about products, services and ideas that smile on the environment. The theme: Going Green Tampa Bay.

About 100 exhibitors are expected at the expo, from green builders to water conservationists. Michael Lokey of Lokey Trucks will answer questions about his biodiesel race car; Roberta Fernandez, one of Al Gore's climate-change educators, will talk on "Demonstrating Leadership in a Non Carbon World.'' Children's activities, electronics recycling, food stands and seminars will round out the event.

In a significant show of support, USF President Judy Genshaft is scheduled to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment to become a carbon-neutral campus. To that end, organizers pledged to plant about 50 trees in Sulphur Springs to offset the amount of fuel consumed by the expo.

"We're trying to walk the talk,'' said co-organizer Sharon Hanna-West, who teaches ethics and sustainability at USF. "We need to stop looking at this as something we study from afar. This has got to be real lifestyle changes. Not symbolic changes.''

Efforts shift south to downtown, where events will focus on making the city a better place to live and work, culminating with the ECO.lution Festival April 19 at Lykes Gaslight Park. The festival will feature green product exhibits, speakers, food and entertainment.

"We want to show how the city can be more livable, more walkable,'' said Adam Fritz, co-founder of the Urban Charrette, which is organizing the events. The group of architects, planners, engineers and interior designers works to improve the community through smart design.

Other downtown events include a green building design show and a bar/art gallery hop on mass transit. On Earth Day, April 22, the group will show a movie outside the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center about being environmentally conscious.

If successful, the Green Expo and Urban Charrette events could become annual Earth Day observances.

"People want to live better,'' Fritz said. "They want to take care of themselves, the earth and the environment.''

A city goes green

• The Green Expo runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the University of South Florida Sun Dome, Tampa.

• Urban Charrette events are April 17-22 in downtown Tampa, including the ECO.lution Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lykes Gaslight Park.

The Tampa Bay Watch open house has environmental games and activities for the family, such as catch and release fishing, gyotaku fish rubbings and paint a crab trap from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Free

Earth Day events kick off early in Tampa 04/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 1:41pm]
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