Quote of the Day: Earth Day founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson, proposed that “our goal is not just an environment of clean air, water, and scenic beauty while forgetting about the worst environments in America. Our goal is for an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all human beings, and all other living creatures.”
Commentary: The values expressed in this mission statement by Senator Nelson echo the values of St. Francis of Assisi, who saw no dualism between care for creation and care for the hungry, poor, diseased and need. When I worked at Earth Day HQ in 1970, civil rights, anti-war action and environmental protection were all considered by the staff to be threads in the same fabric. Recently, Chicano activist Arturo Sandoval –the only person of color on Earth Day’s National Organizing Team — recalled that he saw his efforts to engage communities of color in the April 22 events as an extension of his racial justice and peace work on behalf of La Raza! On Earth Day 1970, he led a march of Mexicanos, Nuevo Mexicanos and indigenas through Albuquerque and a rally to force the closure of a solid waste treatment plant in a Latino neighborhood. Receiving national TV coverage on NBC, ABC and CBS that very day, it led to the closure and relocation of the solid waste plant, becoming the first explicit environmental justice success of the environmental movement.
Suggested Action 18: Go to a place near where you live and work that has social and as well as environmental significance, but one that has been degraded or polluted. Imagine a solution that brings that place back to health for the benefit of a multi-racial community. Pray/ work toward that goal.
Gary Paul Nabhan aka Brother Coyote is a professed member of the Ecumenical Order of Franciscans, a graduate of the Living School, a conservation biologist, orchard-keeper and story-teller.