In the nearly three decades since the first Earth Day celebrations were held in 1970, environmentalism has evolved from an activist movement into a mainstream value.

Proof of that can be found in Gresham today as the city, its citizens and many major sponsors participate in a variety of Earth Day activities (The celebration is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Gresham City Hall and the MAX station.)

The Gresham event reminds us just how far the city has come in its attempt to be a leader on environmental issues and sustainability. The city has been working on this cause for several years now. It's been encouraging residents and businesses to do more recycling. It has recognized environmentally sound business practices through its Gresham Resource Efficiency Assistance To (GREAT) Businesses program. And more recently, it has been walking its conservation talk by insisting upon greener practices in development and in its own operations - including contracting for the green deconstruction of the old Fred Meyer building in Rockwood.

Along with the Gresham-Barlow School District, which has been recognized for its energy-conservation programs, the city is establishing this area's credentials for sustainability.

Such efforts do more than simply make citizens feel good about their community. Concerns about the environment, including global warming, are escalating. Cities that already are deep into these issues today will be positioned to be environmental and economic leaders tomorrow.

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