Wendy Herschman has watched many Louisiana Earth Day visitors make their way through the Sole-ful Labyrinth, but one family sticks in her mind.
“They came and walked the labyrinth and when they got to the center, they just all held hands and just stood in silence, and it was so beautiful. You know, it just happened, it wasn’t staged,” Herschman said.
She’s director at The Red Shoes, which annually presents one of the celebration’s most popular events, on the grounds of the Old Governor’s Mansion on North Boulevard.
The labyrinth, or meditation path, is constructed of gently-used shoes donated by the community.
“Earth Day felt really important to me and to the mission of The Red Shoes, because we really like to try to see how our spiritual life informs how we live in the world,” Kirschman said. “It’s not just about sitting somewhere in silence. We got the idea if we could have people donate shoes — because we all feel guilty because we bought too many shoes that don’t fit — and if we could get people to bring shoes here that were gently worn and totally reusable we could repurpose them and create a labyrinth as an activity at Earth Day.”
At the end of the day, representatives from the Bishop Ott Shelter and the Cenikor Foundation pick up the shoes to distribute to clients.
Last year, more than 300 pairs of shoes were given.
“It’s amazing what people have,” she said.
There’s a method to making this “sole-ful” display each Earth Day, Kirschman said.
“We were taught by Maida Owens, who is the one who is sort of the mother of the labyrinth at City Park. You make seven concentric circles with the shoes, and then within those circles you turn the shoes at different points to make it turn into a path that you walk, the design of the labyrinth,” she said.
The labyrinth stretches 22 feet across, and differs from a maze.
“In a maze, you can take a wrong turn. The labyrinth is a really ancient meditative path, because you can’t make a wrong turn. It takes you into a center, there’s always a center,” she explained. “It’s kind of like the walk to the center of yourself. When you walk in, you let go of the things that are burdens or whatever and kind of lay them down and walk to the center.”
At the beginning of the walk, visitors can pick up Earth-related quotes printed on pieces of recycled banana peel paper, something to possibly reflect on during their time at the labyrinth.
At 1 p.m., if weather permits, Daniel Collins will perform a gong bath using Tibetan and crystal balls.
“They make vibrational healing sounds. It’s just a beautiful sound to walk a labyrinth to,” she said.
Shoe donations can be dropped off at The Red Shoes, 2303 Government St., until 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Elsewhere at Earth Day
One of the largest environmental festivals in the U.S., Louisiana Earth Day doesn’t rest on its laurels, with its more than 400 volunteers always coming up with new things to see, hear and do. Debuting during the event’s 26th year are:
“Earth as Art Exhibit,” The Gallery at Manship at the Shaw Center for the Arts. A display of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), part of Remote Sensing, a fascinating science and ever-growing industry.
Bike Baton Rouge Earth Day Bike Tour, 10.30 a.m., starting at the Brooks-City Park Tennis Center. The ride will circle the lakes and City Park, pass through the Garden District and continue into downtown via Beauregard Town, and on to the festival. Bike Baton Rouge will again provide a free bike valet parking corral.
The Earth Day Arts Market will feature arts and fine crafts made by regional artisans using clay, silver, bronze, wood and other media. The artists will have both decorative and functional pieces and will be presenting items made from or inspired by the natural world using time-honored traditions.
FW Gallery’s Pop-Up Exhibit at Earth Day, Shaw Center for the Arts. Highlighting the endurance of one of nature’s greatest gifts, artists have painted, printed, recycled and repurposed paper in a variety of ways to create their art. The reception is 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the first floor of the Lamar Atrium. The work will then be installed at FW Gallery, 8501 Highland Road, through May 31. Special activities include (chemical free) cyanotype making, live painting, meet and greet with 2016 Earth Day print artist Terri Dakmak, light food and drink.
For more on all the other Earth Day activities, go to laearthday.org.
Earth Arts Stage
Noon-1 p.m.: Baton Rouge Music Studios
1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m.: Fine Art Belly Dancers of Baton Rouge
2:15 p.m.-3 p.m.: Tiger Tenors A Capella Singers
3:15 p.m.-3:45 p.m.: Les Bons Sons Cajun Band
3:45 p.m.-4:15 p.m.: Aloha Leilani Polynesian Dancers
4:15 p.m.-5 p.m.: Fine Art Belly Dancers of Baton Rouge
5 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Fire and Flow with Inferneaux
5:30 p.m.-6 p.m.: Bloco Jacaré Brazilian Drummers
Earth for Children Stage
Noon-12:30 p.m.: Artemesia Sword Dancers
12:30 p.m.-1 p.m.: Flamenco Rouge
1 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Yoga Poses Representing the Rainforest
1:30 p.m.-3 p.m.: EBR Talented Music Students
3 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Chinese Dancers (traditional Chinese dance)
3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Groove Haus
4:30 p.m.-5 p.m.: Bloco Jacaré Brazilian Drummers
5 p.m.-6 p.m.: School of Performing Rock
Music at Earth Stage at Galvez Plaza
12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.: Pine Leaf Boys
2 p.m.-3:15 p.m.: Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie
3:30 p.m.-5 p.m.: Sunday in the Park with Todd O’Neill Band
5:15 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: Bucktown All-Stars