(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 24, 2008. We are re-airing it to celebrate this year's Earth Day. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

One of the longest East Atlanta Village traditions is one of the most important. It’s the Tire Drive. Our neighborhood was once populated by many auto service centers and their workers. It seems that there is always someone working on their car in the back yard…and that means a lot of tires. Every year, sometimes for several weekends, people in our community hop in their trucks and go around collecting tires for free, and take them to a drop site approved by the city Government for disposal. Michelle is a great gardening friend and an active volunteer in our community - she is once again in charge of the tire drive. The goal is to beat our neighboring community, Reynoldstown for the most tires recovered! Michelle is filthy, with a flower in her hair standing victoriously on a pile of about 50 old tires!

Atlanta is a very green city and East Atlanta Village is part of an urban forest canopy, the heart of which is Brownwood Park. Brownwood houses our local community garden and a small stream. Part of the park has been left as community dog walking green space and through the year many people go to plant and care for the park. Last year volunteers began to expand some of the public garden planting areas. Local garden centers and home growing East Atlanta residents can bring plants to be planted in these public areas for Earth Day when members of the community will come to spend the day taking care of our park and planting flowers in public areas.

Last year I started to work at our local Hardware store, Village Hardware (but lucky me, I’m in the garden center, Village Green!!) – hired shortly after I was spotted making my own rain barrels for my garden. The store began making and selling rain barrels that were affordable, and quite large – and I began teaching classes on sustainability and organic gardening. As part of our own Earth Day events we will be selling rain barrels close to cost. This is a giant step for a retailer, but I want anyone from any economic background to be encouraged to plant and grow and to be stewards of this Earth. Since this area has been in drought conditions for several years, rain barrels allow us to garden. I will hold two short garden watering sustainability classes as part of the community service our store does. I think it is important to teach skills like direct watering techniques through olla’s, PVC deep watering tubes or soda bottle “drips” along with ways to save household water for the garden.
The store is also donating two rain barrels to local church gardens! This day we will also be honoring the compact florescent light bulb as a way to decrease water usage. By using less electricity such as energy to burn lights, you will save water since it takes water to generate that electricity!

Earth Day is a wonderful day to bring people together in service for the betterment of the community in which they live. It’s a great day for environmental education and togetherness – a day to show community pride and care. East Atlanta Village cares, does your community?

Michelle and an even bigger photo of the tire pile

Thanks to fabulous junk tire model Michelle Rice and her sidekick and photographer Jessica King