Earth Day occurs on a Monday this year, but the Emerald City, living up to its green reputation, has a wide array of activities taking place earlier. Many of this year’s events have an artistic streak, but those looking to get their hands dirty won’t be left out, either.

Families might want to drop by Seattle Center noon-4 p.m. Saturday. The day’s activities include a scavenger hunt, a tour of the center’s trees, community crocheting with Mandy Greer, as well as performances of the first two operas in the trilogy “Our Earth,” commissioned by the Seattle Opera in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Free performances of the first two short pieces in the series, “Heron and the Salmon Girl” and “Rushing Upriver,” begin at 1:30 p.m. in Fisher Pavilion.

The trilogy, with libretti by poet and author Irene Keliher and music by composer Eric Banks, follows a pair of siblings as they travel through Northwest ecosystems in search of a salmon population gone mysteriously missing.

“A really powerful theme that comes out of this is the interrelationship between the pieces of ecosystems, including humans,” Keliher said. “Children might be thinking a little differently about the world around them when they leave.”

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The Olympic Sculpture Park offers an eclectic selection of things to do 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Members of a variety of groups, from NOAA’s Northwest Fishery Science Center to The Public Trust for Land to the Beacon Food Forest, will be on hand. Representatives from the Beacon Food Forest, an urban farm in Beacon Hill that mimics a natural woodland, have created an educational sculpture of the pieces of the food forest’s edible ecosystem from overhead trees to low-lying groundcover. The speakers will assemble the sculpture’s seven parts to explain how the food forest plants large trees, shrubs, root vegetables, climbing vines and more in the same area, creating a diverse, edible ecosystem.

Visitors can listen at several stations inside the park’s PACCAR pavilion to a musical installation by local composer Abby Aresty. The 12-minute loop is a blend of recorded nature sounds and ambient effects. There will also be live music and a tour of the park’s plant life led by staff gardener Bobby McCullough.


Other events (find a longer list in Friday’s Weekend Plus Datebook section, or online at

The Seattle Story Teller’s Guild and the Duwamish Tribe will bring together storytellers to share nature tales at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center, 4705 W. Marginal Way S.W., Seattle (206-431-1582 or

Out for Sustainability is holding its fifth annual Earth Gay restoration project on Saturday. The group is seeking 400 volunteers to restore a portion the Cheshiahud Loop Trail along Lake Union and assist in the installation of a waterfront pocket park. Volunteers have a choice of a morning (10 a.m.) or afternoon (12:30 p.m.) shift. Restoration site at 2734 Westlake Ave., Seattle (206-395-6884 or

Issaquah’s Cougar Mountain Zoo is celebrating the holiday all weekend. Saturday and Sunday will each feature a gardening tutorial from a master gardener and a talk about the essential role bees play in nature. There are also activities for children. Bring an old cellphone to recycle and get $2 off zoo admission. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at the Cougar Mountain Zoo, 19525 S.E. 54th St., Issaquah (425-391-5508 or

Joseph Sutton-Holcomb: On Twitter @analogmelon