State Rep. Rebecca Jauch and her son Michael, 7, of Topsham hold hand-made signs while attending a climate rally Saturday at Monument Square. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Portland retiree Johanna Pulkkinen was considering her options as she looked over an electric bicycle on display Saturday at Portland’s Earth Day Celebration in Payson Park.

She’d like to burn less fossil fuel, save money and help the environment, she said. Which is why she was thinking about buying and riding a bicycle that would cost $3,495 and run 75 miles per charge.

“If I can get on a bike and go, instead of driving, I’m going to do that,” Pulkkinen said. “It’ll get you to the beach and back.”

In Portland and across Maine, many people took time Saturday to celebrate Earth Day and consider making changes to protect the air, water and land, including an afternoon rally and march from Monument Square to Portland City Hall that was organized by Maine Youth for Climate Justice.

About 100 people attended the rally, carrying signs such as “For Cod’s Sake, Cut The Carbon” and chanting slogans, including “No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil.”

Adam Campbell of North Haven and Mary Perry of Belgrade attend a climate rally on Saturday at Monument Square. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Anica Spencer, 16, a Portland High School student, was at the rally with friends Kate Rice and Sophia Ferris, both 16 and students at Waterville High School.


“I’m here because I think climate change is a really big threat and I think people need to take immediate action,” Spencer said.

Gov. Janet Mills issued a statement Saturday noting her administration’s efforts to build “a greener, more sustainable future for this place we cherish as our home.” She also quoted the late U.S. Sen. Ed Muskie of Maine, who spoke at the first Earth Day gathering in Philadelphia 53 years ago, when he called for an “environmental revolution” and said, “we are not powerless to accomplish this change, but we are powerless as a people if we wait for someone else to do it for us.”

Amelia Sturbois, left, and Claire Law of Boston hang a banner during a climate rally on Saturday at Monument Square. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


At Payson Park, there were how-to ideas for reducing pollution, highlighted at games and booths staffed with volunteers and experts from Portland Trails, Garbage to Gardens, the Portland Climate Action Team, Efficiency Maine, Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and more.

There was a hands-on demonstration for children with the city’s naturalist, Mike Vincent, explaining how construction and fossil fuel-based transportation impact climate change. People examined a large recycling truck, electric bicycles, electric lawn mowers and an electric bus.

Shantelle Quint of Portland sat on a blanket as her daughter, Ophelia, 3, created art with recycled materials.


“Every day should be Earth Day,” Quint said. “People do not appreciate the earth enough, the fact that it’s made up of finite resources.”

Tate Turner, 2, of Falmouth and Foster Sandzen, 3, of Portland push an electric lawnmower around during an Earth Day event at Payson Park. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

She’d like to be able to buy food without generating so much waste. “I’d like to see less packaging – convenience packaging is a huge issue, and the corporations who contribute to it. And then they act like, ‘If you just recycle every day it’s going to be fine.’ But it’s not that way at all,” Quint said.

She also hopes electric vehicles and solar power will be more accessible in the future.

Sam Tracy of Portland was sitting inside Greater Portland Metro’s electric bus with Cameron, 3. Tracy said he hopes to see more access to electric vehicle charging. He recently bought a hybrid plug-in vehicle.

“We avoided the full electric because we have range anxiety,” Tracy said.

Nika Izmailova, 7, of Portland gets a heart painted on her face during an Earth Day celebration at Payson Park. Nika and her family moved to Portland a year ago from Ukraine. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

His hybrid doesn’t go far on electricity “but it’s plenty for the day commute,” Tracy said. After he bought the vehicle, two months went by before he filled up with gas. “We said, ‘This is fantastic!'”


Standing outside the electric bus, driver Tom Ridge said it can run for 12 to 14 hours on a charge. In the winter, the Greater Portland Metro buses use a diesel furnace for heat.

Bill Weber of the Portland Climate Action Team said he hoped the games, such as climate Jeopardy!, helped people understand that Maine’s climate isn’t immune to change.

“There’s a lot of things we should take note of. Lobsters moving north. Temperatures going up,” Weber said. “This year, the sugar content of sap for Maine Maple Sunday has gone down.”

Weber said he recently met a “climate immigrant” from Kentucky who came to Maine because the pollen was getting so bad in the commonwealth.

Weber said his organization supports the city of Portland’s climate action plan, “One Climate Future,” which offers sustainability strategies. His group’s overall message is to “electrify everything.”

Participants chant and march through Portland during a climate rally on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer



At the rally in Monument Square, state Rep. Rebecca Jauch, D-Topsham, held climate action signs with her 7-year-old son, Michael.

For Jauch, the fight for climate justice links related concerns about rising temperatures, burning fossil fuels, dwindling food and water supplies, and increasing global migration.

“To me, it’s the most important thing,” Jauch said. “What are we leaving for our children?”

The rally was co-sponsored by Maine Youth Action, Sierra Club Maine, Community Organizing Alliance, Our Power Maine and the Student Alliance for Indigenous Peoples at the University of Southern Maine. Some participants were promoting the Pine Tree Amendment, a bill that would give voters an opportunity to add the right to a clean and healthy environment to the Maine Constitution.

A participant holds a hand-made sign during a climate rally. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“Indigenous people have to be at the forefront of this movement because we’re land protectors and we’re water protectors,” said Liliana Sapiel, a USM student and member of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot nations. “It’s in our culture and in our values to protect Maine’s environment.”

Kathleen Mikulka, 77, of Cape Elizabeth was one of 10 members of Third Act who attended the rally wearing florescent yellow vests and serving as event marshals and supporters. They’re among 400 Mainers who have joined the new national group for people age 60 and older who want to “change the world for the better and leave a worthy legacy,” Mikulka said.

“We’re doing this for our grandchildren,” Mikulka said. “How could we not be here?”

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