50th Anniversary of Earth Day

By: Valentine 

As this pandemic takes hold of our futures, the holidays pass in its grip as well. Today, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day within our homes, in our backyards, or some of us are lucky enough to access a public park or nature trail. I remember discussions of a huge climate strike today, one that would spread across states and pack people into streets: yelling, singing, cheering, demanding a Green New Deal. Unfortunately, we must continue to stay six feet apart and a mass gathering will not happen anytime soon.

This is a time where we are most distanced from the world, but we are embracing new ways to connect. We are exemplifying a global solidarity that comes with thinking of others and our personal impact on the world around us. This allows for connection through live streaming, zoom meetings, rsvping to calls, sharing. Recently people have had more time to create, write, paint, and design –ways to construct what we want the “new normal” to look like.

In a recent study posted this week, there is a clear linkage between areas with high rates of air pollution and higher death rates from COVID-19. This disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx communities the most. The World Health Organization estimates that 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air. In just a few months, there have been hopeful changes to the environment around us due to less motorized movement and people, as AP news reports. Just in the northeastern United States, there has been a 30% decrease in nitrogen oxide.

When I think of a “new normal,” I imagine blue skies and clear views when walking outside, an economic system shifted from fossil fuels to renewable energy, an accessible and efficient public transportation system, healthcare for all, and a government that eases people into a more equitable and just world. We have the power to create this and more. This pandemic has shown the necessity of implementing universal healthcare, livable wages, the right to unionize, and more environmental protections. 

Get involved with an environmental group and help create the “new normal!” There are virtual informational sessions, community building activities, and strategic planning events. Great resources: Sunrise Movement, US Climate Strike, Extinction Rebellion.

There are many events happening this week to celebrate Earth Week. Join a livestream, get involved, and if you can, spend time outside! I hope when this is all over we can enter a cleaner and wilder world, maybe where we can appreciate each other a bit more. 

Wishing you good health and safety. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other. A poem is included below to celebrate this day and to remind us all where we come from. 

“Remember” by Joy Harjo, member of Mvskoke Nation and the U.S. Poet Laureate for 2019-2020. 

Remember the sky that you were born under,

know each of the star’s stories.

Remember the moon, know who she is.

Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the

strongest point of time. Remember sundown

and the giving away to night.

Remember your birth, how your mother struggled

to give you form and breath. You are evidence of

her life, and her mother’s, and hers.

Remember your father. He is your life, also.

Remember the earth whose skin you are:

red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth

brown earth, we are earth.

Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their

tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,

listen to them. They are alive poems.

Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the

origin of this universe.

Remember you are all people and all people

are you.

Remember you are this universe and this

universe is you.

Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.

Remember language comes from this.

Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Remember.

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