We Urge Our Friends to Invest in Our Planet

By Nancy Frost

Canterbury Woods resident

At Canterbury Woods, residents are passionate about many things. Some are lifelong passions while others come to fruition when residents join our community.

One example is our passion for the earth itself. This year, on April 22, Canterbury Woods residents and staff will celebrate the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day, or as I like to say … the birth of the modern environmental movement.

The theme for Earth Day 2023 is “Invest in Our Planet.” The theme is focused on engaging governments, institutions, businesses, and the more than one billion citizens who participate annually in Earth Day to do their part in making everyone accounted for and accountable.

In the first half of the 20th century, much of America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns. But in 1962 the stage was set by a groundbreaking New York Times bestseller “Silent Spring,” written by American marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson, whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.

Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.  Perhaps you participated in an event then or since.

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.  “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

More than 1 billion people in 192 countries now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  At the beginning the focus was on pollution.  Over time the focus has shifted on environmental support systems – natural systems such as forests, grasslands, fisheries and what is happening to them.  Now the focus is on many things such as climate change, water, while still stressing the importance of those things we can do to reduce pollution.

Here at Canterbury Woods we honor Earth Day and invest in the future for our children, grandchildren and the children of the world every day by simple choices we make in our daily lives.  The choices between reusing items, recycling versus tossing something in the trash, conserving water, turning off lights, etc.  During the year look for informal displays, discussions, etc. To help you make decisions on what YOU can do.

To celebrate, on April 22, residents will watch “A Sense of Wonder,” the moving story of Rachel Carson.  A discussion will follow about what all of us can do to further Carson’s important work. Canterbury Woods is proud to join other Front Porch communities in a quest to bring more awareness to the emerging Green movement sweeping the country and the world.

Becoming a resident here not only means receiving care, experiencing comradery and the opportunity to enjoy life but also the chance to make a difference among friends.