Happy Earth Day! Next Sunday, April 22, is the 42nd Earth Day. The coordinator of the first Earth Day was Denis Hayes, a local guy (born in Camas, now President of the Bullitt Foundation and a Seattle resident). So make up a picnic, go out, soak up the sun (come on sun!) and smell the roses. That’s actually a nice sentiment, but kind of problematic, since this holiday isn’t some pat observance, like Fathers’ Day. Anyone can celebrate that one, even if one’s own father was… non-ideal, because one can still honor another father figure or at least celebrate what fatherhood ought to be.
Years ago I wrote a song for Seattle’s creek-daylighting
initiative campaign. Part of it went:
“It may take thirty years, but it is surely worth the time.
For if we do not do it just as surely that’s a crime.
We may see little difference, but our kids will see a lot,
And their kids and their kids beyond will live in what we’ve wrought
And if we fail they’ll live in that, so we must not be meek!
Daylight all our creeks!”
Yes, it’s about our streams and wetlands, but this verse is really about all environmental issues. It took time to get us into this mess, it’ll take a lot more time than we’d like to pull us out, and it’s unforgivable not to try- a direct theft from our descendants.
Earth Day is not simply a love-in for pretty landscapes or “charismatic megafauna” (the animals people love). It demands thought and participation- sustained action to preserve what we have and restore what we and our progenitors have damaged or destroyed. It’s a resounding call to pay real attention and get done the things we owe our great-grandkids!
Great-grandkids, yes, that’s my rule of thumb for planning. The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy thought “the seventh generation” was a good benchmark- do a thing only if it will be beneficial or at least not harmful to the seventh generation ahead. That’s where the household products brand gets its name. This may be the best way to remember what it’s about: “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.” - Native American traditional
People scoffed when , but there are those thinking much further ahead, like a thousand years! The Foundation For The Future’s business is to think as deeply and comprehensibly as possible about issues way beyond the next election cycle, the next generation, or even the next century, to what the next civilization will have to deal with. Their overview states: “The Foundation conducts a broad range of programs and activities to promote an understanding of the factors in the social, genetic, biological, medical, psychological, physiological, cultural, technological, and ecological fields that may have an impact on human life during coming millennia.”
So, back to the present. What do we do now? The last verse of that song goes:
“Some buildings must be moved; some roads we need to rearrange.
We have to fight inertia and we must use all our brains.
Grab your picks and shovels, telephones and money, too,
Then grab your neighbor’s hand and let him know what he can do.
To build the finest city ever should be what we seek!
Daylight all our creeks!”
There are many Earth Day events which would welcome your help:
* is holding an “Earth Day Every Day” event in their parking lot from 9:00AM to 3:00PM.
* There’s a work party at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park from 10:00AM to 2:00PM.
* Densmore Pathway in Echo Lake Park will have a work party starting at 10:00AM.
* In Edmonds, there’s a beach cleanup from 11:00 to 2:00
at the Marine Sanctuary next to the
There may be more I don’t know, but there is another alternative. The list of environmental things needing attention is long. Pick one and start it.