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Some places just like to be weird. There are places that promote local businesses and encourage organic lifestyles. Places that want to save their springs and rivers. Places that want to conserve energy and reduce/reuse/recycle just about anything. Places that want to educate about local creatures and flying beasts. Places that have festivals for everything on the planet: Kites, Eeyore, Spam.

One un-named place just north of here wants to Keep It Weird so badly that this message is plastered on bumper stickers and t-shirts for the world to see. Maybe someone should tell them that none of those things are so weird anymore. Pretty darn normal actually. (Well, except for the Spam thing. But in New Braunfels can we really comment on a community's affection for pork products?)

Thanks to the New Braunfels Roots and Shoots organization there are people celebrating some of these once radical and now perfectly acceptable concepts in town. Roots and Shoots is an international grassroots youth driven program sponsored by the Jane Goodall Institute. Yes, that Jane Goodall, the one who researched chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

In 2005 Paula Pebsworth, a primatologist herself now studying baboons in South Africa, brought Roots and Shoots to New Braunfels. The group here is adult led at the moment, but kids are a big part. Today their ages range from 2-14 and they come from all walks of life. The kids are public-schooled, private-schooled, homeschooled, and unschooled.

Their common denominator can be summed up in the mission statement of Roots and Shoots: To foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment.

"We are leading by example so when the kids are old enough they can lead it themselves," says member, mother of five, Terra Marrou. "We all have a common goal to raise our kids to love the earth- so it works."

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The up-coming Fourth Annual Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 24 at Landa Park is a testament to the New Braunfels Chapter's commitment to the principals of Roots and Shoots. You will find local food vendors, master naturalists, bird watching tours, rainfall simulators, and more ways to recycle than you can shake an organic, Texas grown cotton t-shirt at. This is a day to bring your family out for some live entertainment, educational demonstrations and earth-friendly exhibits while soaking up the beauty of our prized piece of earth here in the Hill Country.

And if this is weird then maybe we need a new slogan around here. "MAKE NEW BRAUNFELS WEIRD" might be a start. Roots and Shoots has us pointed in the right direction.