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Slideshow: Earth Day Festival 2012

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Nothing says Earth Day like a man dressed in a green foam lightning-bolt costume giving you a high five. I mean that literally: There is NOTHING that says "Earth Day" quite the same way. But that's the experience you get upon first entering the Earth Day tents at White River State Park — that strange combination of earnest activism, corporate spokesmanship, education and kitschiness that's inherent in the entire event.

Case in point: Colts punter and all-around Coolest Colt Still Standing Pat McAfee, signing autographs at the OmniSource metals recycling booth. Not really sure what he was doing there, except that he brought people to the booth, which is pretty much the point. Work with what you have and what gets the message across - words of wisdom both for the event and green thinking itself.

Mind you, sometimes the point can be lost. The "Save the Polar Bear" ice game had kids picking out cards for good and bad environmental acts; if you wasted energy, you hurt the polar bear's habitat and had to knock down some of the ice with a plastic hammer. My son was angling for the most hammer hits possible. Point = MISSED.

Either way, walk around in circles long enough through the several vast tents and you'll see every iteration of the green ideal, from the handmade instruments to the recycled birdhouses to anti-new-terrain-I-69 activism to computer recycling. No one element is neutral or isolated; it all ties together, an ecosystem of thought, animal rehabilitation to wetlands preservation to highway renovation to public transport, each component affecting a hundred others which in turn affect even more. Every act has repercussions.

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