You guys!! We live on this really really rad planet!
Holy crap, you guys. I’m completely serious right now: this MAY BE my absolute favorite holiday. Ever. In fact, this holiday is so great that a lot of people don’t just celebrate Earth Day they celebrate Earth Week. It’s like 7 Christmases.
There are so many incredible things about our planet!
If you haven’t seen Planet Earth, stop reading this blog immediately and go watch it. Right now. I’m not kidding.
There is something so refreshing to me to have a day when everybody just kind of looks around them and goes, “Damn, this planet is nice.” Although the “green movement” has moved into the mainstream in the past ten years, most days out of the year, environmentalists are still seen as kind of a fringe group. A bunch of damn hippies. Most stuff that claims to be “green” is just trying to capitalize on a marketing ploy, and since environmental change on a mass scale would likely mean mass change in lifestyle/culture, it is seen as being extremist to be an environmentalist.
But on Earth Day, everyone gets to be a hippie, no matter what their political affiliation or ideology or whatever.
On actual Earth Day (Monday, April 22) I didn’t actually have the most exciting earth day. But I did get so excited ABOUT Earth Day yesterday that I spent two hours this morning writing this post. All I got to do yesterday was fill out the volunteer paperwork for an organization called Tree People, and participate in Southern California Public Radio’s Earth Day challenge, both activities I crammed into moments between class/rehearsal/homework. But this weekend I am determined to see something beautiful and plant something in the earth! I will report back and let you know how it goes! YAY EARTH WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The thing is, since I moved to LA, I’ve been researching ways to get involved in activism or volunteer work for the environment, and I’ve had a difficult time getting it figured out down here. In Portland, there are amazing volunteer organizations like SOLVE and Friends of Trees that are super easy to get involved with. Just check out their websites, find an event that works for you, show up, grab a shovel, and get to work. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning, especially if you have a friend you can bring with you. Even the Occupy movement in Portland is incredibly approachable and kind, and I had a great time volunteering with their Food and Garden team, an amazing group of people who believe in revolution through reconnection with our food and our planet.
So what have I found down in LA? There are a lot of people and a lot of environmental issues, and as an outsider trying to find my way in, there is an abundance of random groups, misinformation, and white noise. According to the American Lung Association, Los Angeles has the worst air quality in the nation. In fact, of the top 11 cities with the worst air, 9 of them are in California. Air quality is directly related to water quality, so the water situation in LA is downright bleak as well. We treat the little water we have (Los Angeles is a coastal desert that is draining the Colorado River for water) with no respect.
In California, we have all this incredibly beautiful land and it has been completely taken over by industrial pollution and agriculture. The most jarring thing about living in LA to me is the fact that it LOOKS so beautiful with the vast expanses of ocean and hills and forest and desert and farmland, but all this land is on a knife’s edge with how we are using it.
I’m taken back to my belief that it’s a problem of compartmentalization. The public dialogue about the environment automatically assumes that the environment is something SEPARATE FROM HUMANS. But the truth is, we are all animals, baby.
It is a biological fact. We are another manifestation of Carbon–part of the circle of life. It is impossible to ask the question, “What can I do for the environment?” because you’re already doing something for the environment BY EXISTING. The problem is that as a species we’re not doing a good job of existing right now. We think that we live ON the planet when we really are part of it in an incredibly physical, tangible way. I think that we get so lost up inside our heads, though, that we forget. Our consciousness, the thing that separates us from the rest of the mammals, makes us forget that we are mammals, and we exist because we are part of an ecological system.
So people who work for the health of the environment are labeled as hippies, as outliers, and the mainstream of thought is focused on how to keep everything about our lives the same for as long as possible–all our disposable belongings, plastics, chemicals, Styrofoams, electronics, cars, hot showers, low-quality beef for 3 meals a day, golf courses in the desert… How does “going green” fit MY lifestyle? I do this just as often as the next guy–it’s incredibly difficult NOT to in LA. I’m still trying to figure out how it’s possible to be environmentally ethical while living here. (…Any input is happily accepted, blogosphere.)
On the bright side, here are some cool developments that people have been working on using their big, fancy, conscious human brains!
- Hydrogen Cell-powered cars
- Algae turning waster-water into fuel
- Capturing storm water in LA
- LA to be coal-free by 2025
You’ll notice that with all the LA-related stuff, no one wants to pay for these ideas, but I’m choosing at this moment to focus on the positive signs of progress!
In conclusion, HAPPY EARTH WEEK EVERYBODY! Get outside, breathe in some fresh air, look at something beautiful, and if you can, do something nice for the planet. On behalf of myself and Britt,