Whatcom Museum highlights environmental awareness with "Vanishing Ice" activity day


Special events surrounding the Whatcom Museum's acclaimed "Vanishing Ice" exhibit are drawing to a close this weekend with lectures and the fourth in a series of Family Activity Days offering reduced-price admission.

Environmental action is the theme of several events for children and adults from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the museum's Lightcatcher galleries, 250 Flora St., and at the Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. Admission is $3 per person; it's free for museum members.

"Vanishing Ice," which closes March 16, uses art to examine global climate change and its effect on the Earth's polar regions. Previous Family Activity Days have focused on art, science, the environment and polar exploration.

"With this one, we've tried to build environmental awareness," said Chris Brewer, the museum's educator and public programs coordinator. "It's really all about the action. That really is the theme."

Saturday's activities include an informational fair with 12 local environmental organizations and activities intended to help empower children to effect social and environmental change. Events include art and science projects and a "Lorax literacy" display based on the popular Dr. Suess character.

Exhibits will include a dollhouse-sized model of an energy-efficient home and a building material called "poticrete," which is concrete made from pulverized discarded toilets. Docent-led tours of the "Vanishing Ice" exhibit are offered at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

There's also a walking tour of downtown to illustrate the ease of lowering your carbon footprint. It features a stop at Mallard Ice Cream for a free ice cream cone and to hear owner Ben Scholtz discuss his business's sustainability practices. The one-hour tour leaves at 1 p.m. from the Lightcatcher and is limited to 50 participants.

For teens and adults, a pair of talks are featured in the Old City Hall galleries. "Cool Talk: The Reality, Social Dimensions and Solutions of Climate Change" brings together three speakers with science backgrounds: Eileen Quigley, director of the Strategic Innovations Program at Seattle-based Climate Solutions; Jill MacIntyre Witt, of the local Climate Reality Project; and Gene Myers, Huxley College of the Environment professor specializing in conservation psychology.

That's followed by a 2 p.m. "What's Next? Answers and Action" panel discussion with the three earlier speakers and staff members at Sustainable Connections and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

Another event in the Lightcatcher's Family Interactive Galley features the Northwest Wood Turners group, whose members will make wooden tops that children can take home and paint if they wish.

"Kids can watch how they turn and make it," Brewer said. "It isn't really related (to climate change), but it's great fun."


Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher galleries, 250 Flora St., will be open free from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, during the monthly Downtown Art Walk. It's the last chance to see the "Vanishing Ice" exhibit free. It closes March 16.


Join the 6- to 9-year-old junior ecologists at the Padilla Bay nature center for free "High Tide, Low Tide" classes to earn how plants and animals adapt to the changing tides at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 12 and 13 in the Breazeale Interpretive Center, 10441 Bayview-Edison Road in the Skagit County coastal village of Bay View. Registration is required and some spots remain. For availability, call 360-428-1558 or go to padillabay.gov.


The third annual Edison Bird Festival features free whimsical and informative events for birders of all ages on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 8 and 9, in the Skagit County village of Edison. Be sure to catch the Fowl Roller Skating Race from 10:45-11 a.m. Saturday downtown, followed by the popular Chicken Parade at 11 a.m. Saturday. Also of note are the free 90-minute guided birding excursions with the North Cascades Institute and Skagit Audubon from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Reservations are required by contacting the group for a seat on the bus: codi_hamblin@ncascades.org or 360-854-2598.

For more information, including a calendar of events, go online to edisonbirdfestival.com.

Robert Mittendorf is a Herald copy editor and page designer. Suggest your ideas for local family-friendly events, hikes or day trips at 360-756-2805 or at robert.mittendorf@bellinghamherald.com.

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