Carmel families enjoyed viewing the Earth Day exhibit at the World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. The May 2 Open House featured artwork from the city’s first Earth Hour – Earth Day Art Contest for students from kindergarten to 5th grade. The contest received 123 entries from several Carmel schools: Carmel, Cherry Tree, College Wood, Forest Dale, Orchard Park, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Prairie Trace, Smoky Row, Woodbrook and a private art class, Your Artist.
Carmel students were invited to create a friendly, artful reminder to care for the planet by powering down. They designed an index card, which is intended to go over a light switch, where it can be frequently seen. Teachers received an EPA Energy Star checklist to turn off lights, the TV and other electronics when leaving the room, as well as putting the computer in sleep mode and unplugging electronics and chargers when not in use. These are all simple things that kids can do. According to Bob Yull, Energy Manager for Carmel Clay Schools, the district has saved over $9 million since the energy conservation program was implemented in 1995.
While energy allows us to do many things that make our lives better, energy isn’t free. According to Energy Star Kids, we have to remember that there’s a limited supply of things that give us energy, like coal and oil. Using too much of certain types of energy, like fossil fuels, can pollute our environment and lead to global warming.
The panel of judges included representatives from Citizens from Greenspace, the Carmel Arts & Design District and the Blue Egg Art Gallery. The judges selected one semi-finalist from each grade level for each participating school, and one district-wide winner from each grade based on representation of theme, focus on energy conservation and earth stewardship, and creativity. District winners included Stephanie Ding, kindergarten, Prairie Trace; Felicia Sanders, 1st grade, Smoky Row; Alexandria Dorn, 2nd grade, Cherry Tree; Andrew Callas, 3rd grade, Orchard Park; Bryn Walker, 4th grade, Orchard Park; Lexie Saunders, 5th grade, Cherry Tree. When asked what inspired her, 4th grade winner, Bryn Walker said, “There are a lot of bad things happening in the world, but there are also a lot of good things happening, like this Earth Day Art Contest. I was also thinking about Mother Teresa who said ‘Small things done with great love can change the world.’” Bryn’s artwork is entitled “Mother Earth.”
Carmel’s green mayor recognized the winners. Conserving energy resources and improving the city’s quality of life are priorities for Mayor Jim Brainard. In 2008, the City of Carmel was recognized nationally for its roundabouts by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. According to city engineers, roundabouts save an average of 24,000 gallons of gasoline per year, reduce carbon emissions by 228 tons of CO2 annually, and save residents $96,000 in annual fuel costs. In 2009, the city was awarded a grant for $633,000 to switch about half of the city’s street lights to LEDs. Estimated savings will be $70,000 a year in electricity costs and roughly 1.4 million pounds of CO2 every year. The City of Carmel is now beginning to take bids for a city-wide trash and recycling program which will save residents money, reduce the number of garbage trucks driving through the neighborhoods, lead to safer streets, and reduce the wear and tear on our roads. Go to www.carmelgreen.org for updates.
Carmel Green Initiative sponsored the city’s first Earth Day Art Contest in collaboration with the City of Carmel, Carmel Clay Schools, the Carmel Arts & Design District, the Blue Egg Gallery, Citizens for Greenspace, World Wildlife Fund, the Environmental Protection Agency, Simply Sweet Shoppe, Le Mie Emilie French Café, Joe’s Butcher Shop and Borders Books.