Act, Learn, Race: GREEN CALENDAR

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Think it ain’t easy being green? Let one of these regional events do most of the work for you. All you have to do is show up and learn, act, or even race for a healthier planet.

Take a mellow float in the mountains, paddle the wild whitewater near Richmond, or drift into the tidal waters of the Chesapeake. On July 11 river enthusiasts will combine efforts and cover the entire 340-mile length of Virginia’s James River. Join them and get wet by kayak, sail, or inner tube. The goal is to raise money for every mile you complete to support the James River Association—the waterway’s main watchdog.

They don’t call it the Dirty Hooch for nothing. Atlanta’s lifeline waterway needs a few good hands. Paddle part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and pick up some trash along the way.

WORLD CAR-FREE DAY: Washington, D.C., September 22
Dare not to drive. Every year a group of citizens in the nation’s capital and the surrounding burbs forgo getting behind the wheel and use an alternative form of transportation—be it Metro, bike, bus, or two feet. It offers a look at the bustling neighborhoods without so many cars on the road. By the way, you don’t need to live in the District to join the car-free fun.

At this annual expo the general public gets a chance to learn about current practical options for using renewable sources of energy from sustainable businesses, conservation organizations, and government agencies. At the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center you can find out how to increase your home’s energy efficiency or meet a variety of companies that will outfit you with solar panels or a green roof at this event with over 200 exhibits and 8,000 attendees.

ORGANICFEST: Asheville, N.C., September 13
One of the country’s largest organic festivals takes place in downtown Asheville every fall. The celebration features an array of regional vendors and local farmers who offer healthy organic eats and share tips on sustainable business practices. The downtown park is filled with 100 booths dishing out organic goods and offering info on everything from gardening to renewable energy. Entertainment includes live local music, dancing, and a kids’ parade.

Started by ultra legend Dean Karnazes, this Mid-Atlantic installment of the national series features four distances of trail running races: 10K, half-marathon, 50K, and 50 miler. Runners kick up dirt at Algonkian Regional and Great Falls Parks and on the Potomac Heritage Trail for a good cause, as they are asked to raise $1 for every mile run to support the Blue Planet Run Foundation, an organization that has successfully brought clean water to over a quarter-million people in 18 countries.

VIRGINIA 10-MILER: Lynchburg, Va., September 26
This classic race may not have a green history, but they’re making up for it in 2009. The goal from the organizers is to create a “zero impact race day.”

Green highlights from the race include free Lynchburg city bus passes for all runners, organic t-shirts with soy-based ink, and locally grown produce for the pre-race meal and runner snacks. The organizers have even gone so far as to charter a bus to shuttle runners from Charlottesville to the 10-miler.

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