Last grand gathering for a while.
Saturday, March 7, 2020 seems like a dream, now. It was the day of our 7th Annual Clean Air Solutions Fair, held at The Gateway. We expected an extra-large crowd this year, because in addition to all of our get-the-word-out gestures, KRCL and others were hosting an International Women’s Day music festival just outside our door.
We were ready, with a stellar lineup of relevant exhibitors, plus a great skill share zone, an air quality lobbying workshop, almost all the related nonprofits in town, on-message vendors, an aerial rig for the Clean Aerial faeries to perform, and the Sound Bath Experience in the Great Hall. It was poised to be the best clean air fair yet.
That was also the morning Utahns awoke to the Salt Lake Tribune front page headline that hinted at what was to come: “Utah announces its first coronavirus case”—a person who had been recently exposed on the Grand Princess cruise ship—”And the governor declared a state of emergency.”
To say the fair was lightly attended, at least compared to our high expectations, would be an overstatement. But many who came stayed at length and participated.
The skill share zone was particularly lively. People made beeswax candles and learned how to darn socks, hem pants, make sauerkraut, maintain their garden tools, build a native bee habitat, make biochar and more.
Students from Salt Lake Community College’s Fashion Institute (and their instructor, Amy Royer) stenciled T-shirts with A/Q-related messages. The Wonderbloom Nature School orchestrated a single use plastics-free KidZone. Many expressed enthusiastic thank you’s for the day as they departed. It was the best fair ever, and I was sad that the hall wasn’t teeming with people all day. The scene at the music festival outside our door looked similar. What had sucked up all our potential attendees?
Within a few days the answer was clear, and I was grateful for the lack of teeming masses. On March 14, coronavirus cases in Utah had risen to 10, including the first case of community spread. Gatherings of more than 10 were prohibited by public health order. By the 21st, cases rose to 136, and by March 28, 602. By the time you read this, numbers will likely have doubled and more.
Nonetheless, a great time was had by all who made it out on March 7—one of the last days that large-scale socializing took place in Salt Lake City. No singing or kissing occurred that I know of. I hope you’ve all remained safe and well. Abundant thanks to all of the following organizations, financial and in-kind contributors and volunteers:
Bags to Beds
Cameron Wellness Center
Center for Biological Diversity
Central Wasatch Commission
Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Clean the Darn Air
Clever Octopus Creative Reuse Center
East Bear Design
Energy Doctors, Inc.
Green Party Utah
Green Urban Lunch Box
Michael Cundick for County Mayor
Mobile Moon Coop
Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance
Natural Law Apothecary
SLCC Fashion Institute
Salt Lake Co. Health Department – Air Quality
Salt Lake eBikes
SLC Air Protectors
Sustainable Business Coalition
Utah Clean Energy
Utah League of Women Voters (ULWV)
Utah Permaculture Collective
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment
Utah Transit Authority / Travel Trainers
Wasatch Community Gardens
Wasatch Cooperative Market
Waste Less Solutions
Utah Clean Air Partnership / UCAIR
Marathon (formerly Andeavor)
Water & Wellness
Salt Lake Bike Collective
Wonderbloom Nature School
And last but not least, thanks to the CATALYST staff—John, Sophie, Polly; star volunteer and advisor Jim French; board members Jenn Blum and Naomi Silverstone; our interns past and present—Emily, Katie, Nataly, Shannon, Jade; and community volunteers Lori, Lee, Ryan, Chloe, Alan, Erica, Josh, Will, Jim and J. Also thank you to Sam Crump for his wonderful photographs. Thank you all, and let’s convene again next year!
Greta deJong is founder and editor of CATALYST.