My Comments at the 50th Earth Day Celebration

Some have asked me to share what I said at the 50th Virtual Earth Day Event on April 22, 2020. I’m happy to share them!

Happy 50th Earth Day! Thank you for being a part of this celebration and moment in history.

I’d like to talk today about the power of community. Community isn’t about physical proximity, it’s about coming together for one another. To talk, to support one another, and to share in the work ahead. We are still doing all that right now.

It was almost 60 years ago that a community of 33 people came together to form the group that became Green Foothills. Out of a living room conversation came the organization that, with our partners and community, has protected nearly 200,000 acres across San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties through advocacy, education, and grassroots action. Together we are creating a climate-resilient region that other communities can follow today and decades to come. A region where wildlife thrives, everyone has natural beauty to enjoy, and communities live in balance with nature.

Our work is continuing during this shutdown, because our work is about joining together with others to carry the message that nature is essential. Even if many of our parks are closed, they are still protecting us. Our forests are still cleaning our air and water, our wetlands are still protecting us from sea level rise, and our local farms are still feeding us.

Today, you are going to hear more about three campaigns to protect local nature. The people speaking today are among the most wonderful local leaders because they are here for the planet and community, and they are making an impact. There is a love and joy they bring with them every day that makes all the difference and that should be an inspiration to us all.

Your call to action is to pick one of these campaigns to take action on. You can learn more about this issue on our website, sign our petitions, and spread the word on social media. Because you are on today’s call, you are now a part of the Green Foothills community and you’ll be the first to know when there’s an opportunity to come to a rally, speak at a community meeting, or contact your local elected officials about these campaigns.

And of course, I want to give a shout out to the 1050 individuals and families who donated to Green Foothills in the past year. If you can make a donation to Green Foothills to support our work with a gift that is meaningful to you in honor of Earth Day, be it $5, $50, or $500, please do. We truly can’t protect nature without your support.

There is still more work to do. Now is the time for all of us to work together for a better tomorrow.

I have an excerpt from a recent piece written by Gurpreet Gill that has brought me a great deal of calm in this new reality as I juggle anxiety and loneliness and the great unknown of what the coming months might look like. I hope they help you too.

“What if… there is an intelligence far greater than humans at work…
What if this period somehow helps us reset and remember what is truly important.

Reconnecting with family and community.
Reducing travel so that the environment, the skies, the air, our lungs all get a break.
To reconnect with self — what is really important to me?

A reset economically.
The working poor. The lack of healthcare access for over 30 million in the US. The need for paid sick leave.
How hard does one need to work to be able to live, to have a life outside of work?

There is a shift underway in our society — What if this virus is an ally in our evolution?

In remembrance of what it means to be connected, humane, living a simpler life, to be less impactful/ more kind to our environment.

It was time for a change, we all knew that.
And, change has arrived.”

I share these words in hopes of both peace and of action. We need to create and sustain a fundamental shift in society to ensure a livable planet for all. Shifting back to “normal” is not an option because, as Greta Thunberg reminded us, “normal was a crisis.”

Everyone can make a difference. As Pete McCloskey tells us in his new book The Story of the First Earth Day 1970, grassroots activism has changed the world and it will continue to for the next 50 years.

Together, anything is possible. Let’s create the world we and our children deserve. I want everyone to depart today’s celebration with a resolution to pick one plot of natural land no matter how big or small that you are committed to doing all that you can to protect for the next generation. Thank you for your support, thank you for all you do, and Happy Earth Day

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