Procession of the Species
The Procession of the Species Celebration is an annual, community arts-based Earth Day celebration in Olympia, Washington. It is the largest annual Earth Day celebration in the Puget Sound area and Cascadia bioregion.
The Procession features a parade of costumes, floats, and puppets with animal and element themes. Procession rules do not allow live pets, motorized vehicles, candy, or words. The Procession began in 1995, operates without government support, and has earned national recognition.
Started in 1995 by a group of Olympia residents, the Procession was originally created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day and to support Congressional renewal of the Endangered Species Act.
Taking place during Olympia's annual Spring Arts Walk, the Procession regularly draws 30,000 spectators and 2,000-3,000 participants. The celebration, now in its 20th year, is completely noncommercial, made possible by community contributions of money, materials, time, and skills. The Procession is produced by Earthbound Productions, a 501 C-3 organization, and currently does not benefit from any public funding from the city of Olympia. Seven weeks before the Procession, a community art studio is established. This studio is open to the public and a minimal donation is requested, but no one is ever turned away for lack of funds. As there is no permanent studio space available for the Procession, each year Earthbound Productions locates and rents a space to serve as the community art studio; ultimately, the group hopes to find a permanent location. The studio, staffed solely by volunteers, becomes a central location for art & music workshops and costume design. Participants use a wide range of artistic approaches, such as Batik, Papier Mache, and Luminaria. They use mostly donated or scavenged materials to express appreciation for the natural world and create their costumes, banners, floats, puppets, drumming, community bands, and more. During the event itself, bedecked in their costumes featuring the elements and various species of plants and animals, people of all ages join in the procession. The event itself has three ground rules: no live pets, no motorized vehicles, and no written words.
Inspired by Olympia's event, Procession of the Species celebrations have been planned in states around the U.S. and nations around the world. It is a nationally recognized model for community arts-based involvement, environmental education, arts education, and cultural exchange.
In its July 2009 Best of America feature, Reader's Digest magazine honored the Procession of the Species with the top spot in its "can't resist" parades and processions list, after having considered 50,000 other celebrations in the United States.
- How did the Procession begin? — Official Website of the Procession of the Species. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- What has been the impact of the Procession? — Official Website of the Procession of the Species. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- Who creates the Procession? — Official Website of the Procession of the Species. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- About the Community Art Studio — Official Website of the Procession of the Species. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- The Three Rules Explained — Official Website of the Procession of the Species. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- Processions Elsewhere — Official Website of the Procession of the Species. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- Procession of the Species tops Readers Digest list — June 22, 2009. The Olympian. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- 8 People, Places and Things We Love About America — Reader's Digest Website. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
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