A view of Mount Hood from the Columbia River.


LSW Celebrates Earth Day's Global Impact with a Local Volunteering Event

April 21, 2022 by Courtney Jones

On Friday April 22nd, LSW will join nearly 100 million people worldwide to celebrate Earth Day, an annual event dedicated to environmental protection, advocacy, and action. Over the years, Earth Day has ushered in several national acts including the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, and the Substances Control Act. The celebration has brought a wave of positive change to this planet through the collective action of people all over the world. Each year focuses on a different theme to inspire change. For Earth Day 2022, the theme is “Invest in Our Planet”.

Local Connection

While it’s well-known and celebrated world-wide, Earth Day has a special connection to our local community. Denis Hayes, the primary national organizer of Earth Day in 1970, grew up in Camas, Washington. He graduated from Camas High School and attended Clark Community College here in Vancouver. His experience living in a paper mill community that was polluted with industrial waste made an impact on him, planting an early activist seed that would grow as he matured.

“What 1970 did was to take all these individual strands and weave them into a fabric of modern environmentalism. All of these things are related. If you care about one, you ought to be working on the others as well.” Denis Hayes

Denis’ environmental advocacy hasn’t stopped with Earth Day. He is currently the CEO of the Bullitt Foundation – an organization that applies principles of ecology to the design of healthy, resilient human ecosystems. From Camas to cities across the Pacific Northwest, Denis has dedicated his life to investing in sustainable communities. He has even promoted sustainable architecture through his leadership in designing and constructing the Bullitt Center in Seattle. It stands as one of the most sustainable commercial office buildings in the world, and it represents a local example of resilient, environmentally friendly building design.

The Magnitude of a Movement

However, the Bullitt Center is one building and Denis Hayes is only one person. Since its development, dozens of other projects have followed suit, ranging from the development of green buildings to advocacy programs that help communities and cities become more equitable, resilient, and healthy places to live. The powerful impact of Earth Day comes from the collective action of millions of people all over the world. Both the degradation and restoration of planet Earth can happen on exponential scales. As the human population grows exponentially, the opportunity to affect change is growing exponentially. The critical factor is whether that change will be for better or worse.  

Leading the Way

LSW Architects is determined to support positive change. Our office is celebrating Earth Day by participating in a volunteering event at Happy Valley Park with Friends of Trees, a Portland-based non-profit organization that is committed to planting trees and growing healthy communities. As a firm, we are choosing to “Invest in Our Planet” by providing an opportunity for staff to volunteer their working hours while serving a community resource close to our hearts and our work.

LSW has designed several multi-family housing projects in Happy Valley, Oregon. As we mulch trees in mindful anticipation of summer heat, we are caring for the Earth and cultivating a tree canopy that will provide habitat, shade, and beauty for future visitors to the park – animals, plants, and people alike.

Joining In

Change is the only constant in our world. The oceans, the forests, our cities, and our communities will continue to change for better or worse; everyone has a role to play in this process. Our challenge for anyone reading this is to ask how can you “Invest in Our Planet”?

Will you take your bike to work, or make a meat-free dinner? Can you join a local stream clean-up? Investment can look like time or money or relationships. Earth Day is about engagement and taking the time to connect with the Earth.

Here’s hoping that while we dig in, hands first, we will have a little fun too!

Click here for more Earth Day Tips and Suggestions.

Click here to read the Columbian's interview with Dennis Hayes.