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A day that revolves around the Earth

Published April 23, 2007

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TAMPA - Under a sunny Sunday sky at a Lowry Park Earth Day celebration, people showed each other that there is more than one way to save the world.

Tents stood side-by-side, advocating solar energy, fresh water, free animals and clean air. Vendors sold organic spinach dip and dog food.

Joel Chudnow, sporting a red clown nose, was there to advocate for holistic health care.

"I'm here to be with my people, real people who really care about sustaining this planet for our children and grandchildren," said Chudnow, 60, who teaches people natural ways of healing at Hillsborough Community College.

Mid afternoon in the park's band shell, the ambient sounds of didgeridoo and drums took a temporary pause for a word from the sponsors, the Sierra Club, which has worked to protect the planet for more than a century.

"How many of you have seen Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth?" Darden Rice, the club's national field coordinator, asked about last summer's documentary on global warming.

Hands shot up.

"It's happening now, and it's happening at a faster rate than anyone predicted," she said. "Here in Florida, we have more at stake than anywhere I can think of."

The sea level is rising. Hurricanes are strengthening.

And people are noticing, said club outreach chair Rheda Weeks. Attendance at this year's Earth Day celebration was high, the crowd more mainstream. The change in climate is creating a change in attitude.

"People aren't as arrogant about their impact on the Earth anymore," she said.

As activists talked about the evils of foie gras, pollution and nuclear power plants, Sherwood Liu found a quiet place inside himself as he demonstrated the Chinese practice of Falun Dafa meditation.

Liu stretched gently, gliding his hands to purify his body using energy from the cosmos.

He sought truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. For him, helping the world would have to start from within. "We all live in this world," Liu said. "We all need cultivation."

Times photographer Keri Wiginton contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 813 226-3354 or

[Last modified April 23, 2007, 01:02:30]

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