SOS Earth Day celebration planned for April 23


By Christina Knoell | Southwest Organization for Sustainability

For the past 52 years, April 22 has marked the anniversary of Earth Day. The Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS) has celebrated it for the past nine years or so. This year’s theme will be “Invest in the Earth.” The community and visitors alike are welcome to celebrate Earth Day at the Riverwalk near the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership growing domes on April 23 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Earth Day reminds us of the importance of long-term ecological sustainability and how interconnected we are on this planet. For example, take the complex issues of how we are connected to the water environment. Anything that happens on the earth’s surface ultimately returns to us in the water we drink. 

Jill Heinerth, a renowned cave diver, explores the mysteries of underwater systems. She explores deepwater caves, sinkholes and sewer systems and is the first person in history to explore an Antarctic iceberg. 

We know more about space, Heinerth writes, than we do about the earth’s past climate and ancient civilizations. Vast networks of groundwater enter underwater portals in places like the Bahamas, where ancient life exists, such as long-lived animals that predate the extinction of dinosaurs. How did they get there? How have they survived for so long and what can they teach us about survival and adaptation to climate change over the past 200 million years or more? 

Heinerth works cooperatively with other cave divers, biologists, physicists tracking climate change and hydrogeologists to understand our finite water reserves. She sees the earth as more like a sponge than a rock. It absorbs our impact and connects us globally with the shared resources that we all drink. 

You can hear Heinerth’s diving adventures on Look for the November 2015 podcast titled “The mysterious world of underwater caves.” She shares one story of exploring the Wekiva River in Central Florida. Encountering underwater wildlife, birds and plants, her team was eager to discover the source of the water, leading them to a Best Buy parking lot. They found heavy metals from cars and greasy particles spilling into the beautiful Wekiva River. She talks about another discovery in the Bahamas where scientists found Sahara Desert sand nestled in the deep crevices of underground caves. Once again, the exploration illustrated that we are all connected and share the impact of life on earth. 

The April 23 Earth Day event at the Riverwalk will have children’s activities and participants with a celebratory spirit of the gifts that come from our Mother Earth. 

Organizers are inviting our local indigenous community and local clergy to lead a short opening and closing prayer. One plan is to gather at the amphitheater space at 9 a.m. for a short meditation session led by Jonathan Dobson. Bring a mat and dress for rain, snow or sunshine. Come gather in this reminder that we are all connected and have much to share on this beautiful “sponge” we call Earth. 

For more information or to get involved, please email