The 50th Earth Day (April 22, 2020) will be like no other.
While many environmental justice organizations like VEJ started 2020 with plans for big public celebrations, COVID-19 put those plans to rest.
But that does not mean Earth Day is canceled.
In fact, VEJ is planning to do more for Earth Day, inviting friends to be part of three online and virtual events on Wednesday, April 22.
"If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic makes Earth Day even more important this year than we imagined when we were just planning a big 50th anniversary celebration" said VEJ executive director BT Irwin. "The pandemic is an environmental justice catastrophe that is quickly turning into tragedy. If there was ever a backdrop that makes Earth Day stand out as critical to our world, this one is it."
On Earth Day, VEJ will host and organize three online or virtual events:
24-hour "virtual prayer vigil" for Earth
VEJ is inviting friends to sign up to pray for Earth in 48 30-minute blocks from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.
"On this 50th Earth Day, we are looking for 50 friends to keep 'virtual vigil' for all 24 hours of April 22," said Irwin. "This reflects that prayer is actually the most important work we do."
Friends can sign up to be part of the "virtual vigil" here.
Livestream music and prayer service
At 9 a.m. on Earth Day, VEJ will host a livestream music and prayer service on its Facebook and YouTube pages. This service will feature friends from several faiths leading prayers and singing songs for Earth.
"We couldn't have our interfaith prayer breakfast, so we're bringing interfaith prayer to our friends' breakfast tables," said Irwin. "We couldn't think of a better way to help our community start Earth Day."
To watch the livestream, simply go to VEJ's Facebook or YouTube page at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 22.
Livestream panel of environmental nonprofit leaders in Detroit
At noon on Earth Day, VEJ will host a livestream panel discussion on its Facebook and YouTube pages. The panel will feature leaders from several of Detroit's environmental justice nonprofits: EcoWorks Detroit, Green Living Science, Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, and Sierra Club Great Lakes.
"The state of things with environmental justice was already at a critical point in Detroit and southeast Michigan," said Irwin. "COVID-19 takes it to the boiling point. Our panelists will talk about what Earth Day calls us to do in the age of COVID-19 and its aftermath."
To watch the livestream panel, simply go to VEJ's Facebook page or YouTube channel at noon on Wednesday, April 22.