By Bren Dubay
The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the earth. – Maria Montessori
It has been a breathtaking Spring at Koinonia. The rain comes but soon gives way to bright, sunny days. But always, there is enough rain. Rain, I’ve discovered, is something that occupies your mind quite a bit when you live on a farm.
The temperatures have been moderate, usually not too cold and usually not too hot … just right. Lots of people have been coming to visit. More than seventy people who lived at Koinonia in the 1970s recently returned for a reunion. It was pure fun. All this seemed fitting as we rolled into Earth Day 2023.
It was 1962 when Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring raised awareness of the frightening environmental degradation of the Earth. What she wrote sparked the modern environmental movement.
In 1969, a devastating, massive oil spill along the coast near Santa Barbara, California, moved Wisconsin Senator Gaylor Nelson to take action. Using the anti-war movement of the day as a model, he forged a plan to hold teach-ins on college campuses to raise awareness of the environmental dangers before us. He and others working with him chose a date between Spring Break and Final Exams, April 22, when more college students would be around with extra time on their hands. They called it Earth Day. That was 1970, and 20 million Americans, or 10% of the population at the time, took to the streets. Some of the Koinonians who came back for the recent reunion were a part of this event. By the end of 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was born. Twenty years later, in 1990, Earth Day went global when 200 million people in 141 countries protested what was happening to the world’s environment.
We just observed the 53rd Earth Day, and an estimated billion people participated in a day of action. But experts tell us that saving the planet is not looking good.
Earth Day is a time to take stock of both the good and the bad. It is a time to be thankful for any progress made to care for the Earth. It is a time to acknowledge that there is much, much more to do, and time is short.
Despair? Despair doesn’t seem to be a characteristic of Koinonia. Yes, we can be haunted by doubt. Is what we are doing having any impact? Is it too little too late? But we know we are not alone in the effort.
I allow myself to be inspired by the beauty of this place where I live. I want everyone to have a sanctuary like this. What’s a place in nature that gives you life? Do you have a photograph of it? Are you able to see it in person daily, weekly, or annually? Find a way to look at your sacred place as often as possible so that it can propel you into action. I look at the land I live on. I am inspired. I do what I can each and every day to protect it. I reach out to those in the environmental movement to find ways to help much further afield than Koinonia Farm.
If there were a billion of us who participated on this April 22, what if a billion of us participated in the work the other 364 days? Let’s all do what we can.