WATSONVILLE — More than 150 people enjoyed complimentary food, games and hands-on science activities during a bilingual environmental festival sponsored by Regeneración - Pajaro Valley Climate Action called “Healthy Children for a Healthy Planet” on Sunday at the Northgate Apartments in Watsonville.
The festival was organized by Maria Perez, a 2017 graduate of Pajaro Valley High School, who is heading to UC Berkeley this fall to pursue a degree in Society and the Environment after being awarded multiple scholarships.
More than 100 community members donated money (through the Human Race), prizes, materials, samples of organic body products, and people power to staff the activities at the festival.
Perez’s goals for the festival were threefold: to deepen connections between people, to connect people with the natural world, and to share information and resources for leading a healthier lifestyle.
She said she hopes the festival will build a stronger sense of community in her neighborhood, knowing that a stronger community will be more resilient as the climate changes and disproportionately impacts an already stressed and under-resourced population. She also wants her family and neighbors to have access to information and opportunities she has received through her participation during high school in Food What?!, the Watsonville Wetlands Stewards program, a course on climate change at Cabrillo College, as a winner in Project Green Challenge, and as a leader with Regeneración.
Instead of inviting people in the community to come to an event held in a more distant location, requiring transportation and more effort to participate, Regeneración brought the festival right to the neighborhood. The response was overwhelmingly positive and people left requesting Regeneración to bring a similar festival to other neighborhoods, according to the organization.
The festival was kicked off with Baile Folklorico by Alianza Dance Group, led by Graciela Vega.
Participants visited a number of stations run by community volunteers:
• Food What?! loaned a blender bicycle to power a blender to make fruit smoothies and also demonstrated how much sugar is in popular drinks
• Watsonville Wetlands Watch contributed a watershed model showing how pollutants end up in the ocean
• Friends of Rail and Trail provided information about the possibility of commuter train service between Watsonville and Santa Cruz along the coastal trail
• Yoga for All conducted a free yoga class
• Regeneración distributed information about climate change, offered memberships to an online natural store called Thrive and gave out raffle tickets
• Volunteers conversed with children as they explored bones, rocks and toy animals and drew pictures together
• Regeneración served a vegetarian lunch and raffled off prizes throughout the afternoon.
• Dozens of children participated in group games
The public is invited to participate in a community roundtable organized by Regeneración to give input on a survey about local climate impacts on July 17 from 6:30-8 p.m. in the community room on the fourth floor of the Watsonville Civic Plaza, 275 Main St.
For information, visit www.regenerationpajarovalley.org.