Making Earth Day Everyday
We have a calendar in our kitchen, courtesy of Oma, that the kids change at the start of every month. It has reusable number cards and monthly headers, and cards for holidays, birthdays, field trips, and other special occasions. It also has a card for Earth Day and one for Flag Day. Every month when they adjust the numbers and change the cards around, they always find a space for Earth Day and Flag Day. We have been doing this together for the past four years, so a suggestion that I made years ago that everyday should be Earth Day and that everyday should be Flag Day, they now just intuitively incorporate into this ritual of changing the calendar. It is a reminder that we remember our responsibilities to our environment on a daily basis, but also a reminder that we are part of something bigger, that our communities, our nation, our world has this responsibility, too.
As members of a local chapter of Roots and Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, my boys get to be hands on in figuring out ways to help in our community. They meet with kids their age (6-9 years old), and discuss ways to help people, animals, and our environment. They have made posters to warn of the dangers balloons cause to local wildlife, they have sculpted clay peace seeds to share, and they have collected material for a compost. They also sing together, eat together, go on nature walks, draw and journal, and play in the dirt in barefeet. They get to be kids, but they are learning that they also have a stake in the bigger picture. Last month, we participated in the International Day of Peace on September 21st. We wrote messages of peace on the sidewalk with chalk, designed origami peace cranes, and walked in a Peace Parade carrying a 20ft giant peace dove down main street through Delray Beach, FL all the way to the ocean. Just this month, on October 24th, 350.org sponsored the International Day of Climate Action, and we again participated in a local rally to spread the message that we are all connected, by community, by action, by nation, and by hope. It was called the "Wall of Hope and Shame" and one of over 5,000 events worldwide that was organized to bring attention to the desperate need for action to be taken by nations worldwide to combat global warming. My oldest son carried a sign that he made that said "Cool Down" as people were sweating in the unbearable heat of a late October afternoon, and my youngest son simply carried a sign that he made that said "Hope" with a hand drawn peace symbol in the middle.
With all that ails our world right now, with all the negative discourse and despair, with the corporate control of pretty much everything, I want my boys to have hope, but I also want them to know how to achieve it. They understand that people are responsible for garbage and pollution, living in South Florida they understand that the days are only getting hotter, but they also have an understanding that they can make a difference, individually and collectively. It is second nature to them when discarding something to make a choice - reuse recycle, compost, or garbage. We like to say that if we have peace in our home, we can help create peace in the world. So, we would like to challenge others to not only make Earth Day and Flag Day everyday, but to also join us in being active participants in creating that change as a community. We would like to join together once every month in doing something positive to make a difference for our environment. Please leave a comment if you know of an activity to participate in or if you want to share ideas. If you are local or across the globe, let us know what you are doing, and maybe we can join you, or at least join you in spirit. We must live locally, think globally, and do so with the hope and peace that our children naturally emulate.