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Earth Day 2020: Standing in Solidarity with Earth in the Midst of the Unknown

Posted on April 1, 2020, by Jessie Rathburn CoL

Outline of a tree framing the Loretto Community logo
Photo courtesy of Jessie Rathburn

April 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day set aside to celebrate Earth, care for Earth, and attempt to reverse some of the harm we have caused her. The Earth Day Network began sending out emails with plans for this day more than a year ago. Rallies were scheduled, permits obtained, clean-ups organized … then COVID-19 spread across the globe. Now we do not know what to expect on Earth Day. Many events have already been cancelled; others will be determined over the coming weeks.

What we do know, however, is that we are not powerless. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population at the time, stepped out to protest environmental degradation and call for a future more in alignment with Earth. Perhaps some of you participated. Perhaps you waved banners, sang songs, or attended a Teach-In. These actions led to the creation of The Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Occasionally, we see glimmers of hope. Occasionally, when we raise our voices, change happens.

So how do we honor Earth this year, when we most likely will not be able to gather together on the streets or attend a Teach-In? Perhaps you can work in your own backyard or pick up trash in your neighborhood. Maybe you will call your legislators and urge them to prioritize the Rights of Earth. Or perhaps, as Bob Ernst urged us, we should simply do less: “When we stop to think about it, isn’t that really what Earth needs from us humans right now? A bit of undoing? Relief from our constant demands? I think so. And I sense that maybe it’s exactly what we need, too. So maybe on this day we call ‘Earth’ day, I will make an extra effort to undo, for just a day, some of those everyday things I do as a human that take a toll on Earth. And at the same time, maybe I’ll make an extra special effort simply to BE, here on this patch of Earth I call home, to be here as Earth, one with all the life surrounding me in ways that I normally would not take the time to engage. Or disengage, as it may be. … I will celebrate Earth Day by being Earth, as we all are. By naming my dependence. By praying my gratitude. By confessing my transgressions. By lying on my back and letting go, allowing my body to sink into the soil that has made me. In silence.” We find ourselves in a time of undoing. Let us take time on Earth Day to undo our patterns that place so many demands on Earth. Let us celebrate Earth, remember who we are as Earth, and find hope in Earth.

Link to Bob’s article: https://www.lorettocommunity.org/earth-day-2020-reflections-from-the-farm/


Jessie Rathburn CoL

Currently serving as Loretto’s Earth Education and Advocacy Coordinator, Jessie Rathburn spends much of her time outside – gardening, hiking, birding, and learning more about the local central Kentucky bioregion. Her background also includes English and writing instruction and operating an urban farm.
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