Earth Day, which takes place on April 22 each year, traces its roots to a 1969 oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. With California as the birthplace of the annual observance, the state will go the extra mile to honor the planet, with events planned in numerous cities.
The Santa Barbara oil spill, the largest oil spill at the time, awakened the American conscience and became one of the catalysts for the modern environmental movement.
“America had been riding on a high for a long time, and all of a sudden this big oil spill opened people’s eyes as to what our lifestyles were creating,” Michael Lyons, president of nonprofit Get Oil Out, told the LA Times, for a 2015 story about the history of the spill.
The catastrophic event, which devastated marine life and killed thousands of birds, led then-Senator Gaylord Nelson to organize a “national teach-in" on the environment on April 22, 1970. Twenty million Americans poured into the streets to show their support for the environment. Legendary news anchorman Walter Cronkite described it as a "national outpouring of mankind seeking its own survival."
Earth Day has since become an annual tradition. Check out our guide below for film screenings and clean-ups, interactive workshops and musical performances, and other events planned throughout the Bay Area.