By Lisa Bland, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief –
The first Earth Day, held on April 22 in 1970, marked an historical era that catalyzed changes at many levels of society. The day of action on behalf of the planet grew out of the counterculture of the 70s on a stage set in 1962 by Rachel Carson’s famous book The Silent Spring. The book foretold a future where industrialism converged with the natural world, resulting in damage to ecosystems and by extension, humans and all life.
The force for action grew out of the anti-war movement in the US. It resulted in behaviour and policy changes that responded to public dissatisfaction about rampant unregulated industrial growth and pollution. The idea that the public could be inspired to act on behalf of the environment and in turn force regulations onto the national political agenda, was the concept driving Earth Day’s founder, Gaylord Nelson, a US Senator in Wisconsin.
On that April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated in the streets across the US, collectively standing up for environmental protection, uniting Democrats and Republicans, country and city dwellers, rich and poor across all levels of society. From these beginnings arose the modern environmental movement, the Environmental Protection Agency, and regulations for clean air, water, and endangered species.
In the early 90s and 2000s, the Earth Day collective voice rose again and again, mobilizing millions across the world, paving the way for worldwide recycling efforts, the UN Earth Summit, global warming awareness, and the push for clean energy solutions.
This year marks its 47th year, and the Earth Day collective voice will rise again, but with perhaps a more cynical view. There is no denying the stormy path ahead for the planet, its creatures, and by extension, our collective uncertain future. In a climate of well-funded oil and industry lobbyists, dis-interested and apathetic consumers, double talking politicians, wealthy business interests, climate change deniers, and short-term, profit- and fear-based thinking, the entire vibrant and vulnerable living planet is endangered.
It has always struck me as odd to have a day to celebrate the Earth, as though it were a separate entity, or something that required objectification to see it rightly or even remember that it exists. Earth lovers, lefty snowflakes, and hippies are most often associated with planet worship or being green, but deep down I think, or hope, we all experience a kind of awe about being alive on a planet orbiting the sun.
This incredible spinning blue globe in the vast darkness of space is where we live and it’s a beautiful place. There’s something about a feeling of connectedness to our Earth as a whole, and on a basic level, that we may try to grapple with, but can only really glimpse.
Nicole Stott, an American engineer and a NASA astronaut who served as a flight engineer on two missions to the International Space Station Expedition, and now a retired artist, recalls how her view of Earth from space changed her at a profound level. After spending 104 days in space, Stott recounts to CBC Tapestry’s Mary Hines, that seeing the earth from the outside was “overwhelmingly impressive.”
She speaks of how being apart from Earth made her feel much more connected by recognizing it as home and where we all live. She described renewed appreciation of the Earth as a place that takes care of us and all the other living creatures.
“Every time you look at it, it’s changing. It’s the most beautiful, stunning, never gets boring view that I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “We’ve all seen the pale blue dot, but when you see it with your eyes, nothing taken in a photo does it justice.
“When we look at something with our eyes we experience it spiritually, as well, because you know you’re part of it.”
She describes the view from the space station looking out into the black expanse and depth of space as black and crystal clear, and noticed the stars don’t twinkle. “It feels like it has a dimension to it and like it goes on forever.” She explains that looking into deeper space brought with it a significance of who and where we are, even if we never figure out that significance. From the planet’s standpoint she believes where we’re placed in the universe is incredibly meaningful, because it exists in just right conditions. And because of this, she says, we establish meaningful and important relationships with everything.
Although most of us will never go to space, when we see our spinning home depicted beyond our reach, the line that divides us gets fuzzy and it’s not quite as easy to find boundaries to anything.
Standing back far enough in ourselves, to recognize the collective, and resist the urge to battle it out for the last finite resources is maybe one of the most profound perspectives we can carry. This Earth Day is a call to step out of division and separation and fight in honour of our collective home.
In whatever way you can, take time to appreciate the gift of being alive on Earth and stepping beyond the I to embrace the we.
TheGreenGazette is hosting an Earth Day celebration on April 22, at the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Centre at 7 p.m with local musicians, silent auction, and more. Come out and celebrate our collective home and our local/global community, where the foundation for change begins.
Conservation Society & TheGreenGazette – Hosting Earth Day/Earth Night, April 22
The Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Society (CCCS) thought we would do something extra special for this year’s Earth Day April 22. We wanted to host an event right downtown, since we want every environment – even the urban ones – around the Cariboo to be sustainable and awesome. We’ve teamed up with TheGreenGazette to host a day full of fun, earthy events. CCCS is hosting the Earth Day activities, such as a scavenger hunt-style litter pick and a downtown recycling tour, starting at 1p.m. in the Cariboo Growers Co-op parking lot. TheGreenGazette is hosting the Earth Night activities: an evening of music with local musicians at the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Centre, with a silent auction, booths, cash bar, and good times with your greenie friends.
Earth Day events are free to attend and all are materials supplied, sponsored by the Conservation Society. The Earth Night event has a $10 cover at the door.
If you’d like more info, let us know. Call (250) 398.7929 or email firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com. Check out our Facebook pages for more updates, too: https://www.facebook.com/CCCSociety and https://www.facebook.com/greengazette/.