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Over a quarter of a century of Earth Days have gone by, and perhaps it's
good occasion for all of us to pause from our labors for a moment and
both back and forward.
Earth Day certainly has played an important role in getting millions of
people involved in thinking about our environment and the way humans view
the land. Some of us became activists--those long-haired crusaders that
appear in faded news photos, now barely recognizable even to ourselves.
Others continued along their established courses, but with a new glimmer
understanding and a somewhat expanded notion of what it means for us to
a good job of living on Planet Earth. Still others paid little or no
attention, and saw the whole Earth Day thing as an annoyance, a diversion
from business as usual.
Earth Day is not the big event it once was, and I must confess to feeling
measure of sadness as I make that observation. Part of me misses the
excitement of activism, the intensity of confrontation and the heady
feeling of large crowds. But another part sees that as concern for our
earth becomes more mainstream, Earth Day must necessarily become more
mainstream itself. I guess if we really think about it, the original
intentions of Earth Day might best be served if concern for the
becomes so widespread that there is no longer any need for a special
Today, over eighty percent of the people in the United States claim in
opinion polls to be concerned about the environment. That's great news
any again Earth Day activist, but the bitter also comes with the sweet.
still consume too much, pollute too much and abuse the living land that
sustains us. However, Earth Day has won a lot of hearts and minds for
cause, and so we should be encouraged that over eighty percent of our
populace at least identifies with a cause that was barely known just
As time moves forward and we old activists watch our formerly long hair
turning grey and becoming more sparse, there's much to be thankful for
as there's much work to be done. I doubt that I'll ever lead another
"Flush-In" as I helped to do all those years ago (we flushed flourescin
tablets down the dormitory toilets to prove that sewage was being
directly into the Great Lakes...). But then again, millions more people
are aware of the hazards of pollution than in those days, and
stories are seen daily in the headlines. The tide has not been turned,
some of us can see it turning, and in that there is a great deal of hope.
I never would have belived on that first Earth Day that a little over
twenty-five years down the line I would be sending a message to hundreds
fellow land conservationists at the touch of a button from my desk as the
director of a regional land conservancy. Looking back at all that's
happened since those early activist days, it's rewarding to see the
progress that has been made. But looking ahead, I see that there's a lot
more to do, so I suppose I'd best get back to work. The land needs my
efforts, and the wife and child I couldn't have pictured back in the
days need me to finish up so that I can get home and spend some time
enjoying the beauty of spring on this lovely, lovely earth.
Happy Earth Day, everyone.
Little Traverse Conservancy,
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