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Shinnyo-en Foundation supports the Castlemont Community Garden

Earth Day Celebration

On Saturday, April 30th, Communities for a Better Environment held the Third Annual East Oakland Earth Day Celebration with local co-sponsor, Green Pioneers. Green Pioneers is a high school student internship program run by Sarah Johnson and a group of devoted volunteers and students. Green Pioneers provides students with an opportunity to explore their interests, learn urban sustainability skills, and present their work to other students and community members. The Green Pioneers

use a large demonstration garden space, called the Castlemont Community Garden on a high school campus at 86th and MacArthur Blvd, as their learning environment.

The Earth Day Parade began on Green Pioneers’ territory on the Leadership Public School and Castlemont Community of Small Schools Campus. Green Pioneers students, ACORN Woodland and EnCompass students and other community members beat drums, sounded kazoos and proudly marched in the parade aimed at raising awareness about the importance of clean air and food justice in East Oakland.

The Earth Day Parade culminated in an event on the ACORN Woodland and EnCompass Campus. Over 30 Green Pioneers’ Interns and Apprentices presented their Urban Sustainability projects, performed songs and speeches, helped plant an elementary school garden using Aztec gardening methods,and raised over $100 in donations using their produce and a student-designed recipe book.

Green Pioneers’ Intern, Joanna Syx, in her speech said, “Have you ever been around the neighborhood and noticed how dirty it is? Well, I have and I think it’s time for a change.” The Green Pioneers attended the Earth Day event to affirm that they want to be a part of the East Oakland movement that stands up for environmental sustainability and justice. Earth Day attendee, James Minton, said, “At the Earth Day celebration, the Green Pioneers were stereotype-defying and hope-inspiring. Many teenagers are stuck in repetitive cycles of apathy, but the Green Pioneers are trying to create things.”

Leading up to the event, Green Pioneers designed their own t-shirt logo, attended Earth Day planning meetings, finished large-scale urban sustainability projects, ranging from pond design to urban beautification, and canvassed the East Oakland community for attendees. The Green Pioneers pursue camaraderie and a sense of discipline, while earnestly demonstrating their message. In the process, they learn job skills, interpersonal skills, and pursue healthy and sustainable lifestyles that are corrective to the food deserts in which they live. Earth Day would not have happened without them.