Sponsored Post – From Earth Day Austin
This post was written by Janis Bookout, Outreach Manager of Earth Day Austin and the mother of two boys.
At 5:30 am on April 22nd, I will be getting up very early to throw Ryan a breakfast surprise party (don’t tell him) before heading over to Huston-Tillotson University to greet my exhibitors as they set up for Earth Day ATX 2017. His grandparents and best friend will join us, and we are making a layered pancake-cake. He will be ten years old.
Anyone who has ever put on a citywide event would tell you I’m nuts, and I am sure they are right, but here’s the thing — Ryan is the whole reason I do this anyway. He’s why I care. He and his brother, Evan. They are the reason that I spend all day making phone calls and attending events, staying up late with emails and fixing the website. And why I work nights and weekends on climate initiatives.
I’m telling you, I lose sleep at night worrying about the world he will live in when he is in his 30s and 40s. Especially in recent months. And all the work that I am doing seems so small in comparison to the work that is needed.
Because we are, in fact, facing great environmental crises, as well as cultural ones. Business-as-usual-thinking has ravaged our resources just as it has perpetuated grave inequities. While some are just waking up to this idea, others are trying to be patient, because they’ve experienced those inequities and/or environmental impacts firsthand their whole lives. The world I have brought my children into is a very troubled one. And not exactly united in our approach to dealing with that.
But, and bear with me for the digression, when I wrecked the car at the age of 16, after she found out that I was ok, my mother made my favorite dinner. She said the best time to come together and celebrate is in a time of crisis. This year, that is what Earth Day represents to me. It’s a time to actively choose love over fear. It’s a time to embrace and love the future. Not because it’s “going to be great,” but because it is ours to love, to give our lives for.
On April 22nd, 160 local organizations and businesses will fill the landscape at Huston-Tillotson University with ways for local citizens to take action. Children will march onto the campus from a rally at Blackshear Elementary. Transportation partners from all over the city will help people lighten their commute and reduce their carbon footprint. People will be taking autonomous vehicle rides, sampling new foods, and exploring renewable innovations. Volunteers will install a rain garden outside the student union. Families will bring broken things and learn how to fix them, or recycle them. People will be signing up to get involved in climate advocacy, and they will learn about the People’s Climate March the following week. Young people will share their award-winning environmental science projects from all over the region. We will celebrate science as thousands of people from the March for Science join us at the Earth Stage. In the Town Hall meeting, we will discuss the intersections of Austin’s communities and environmental challenges.
Earth Day was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson after touring a Santa Barbara oil spill as a way to both educate the public and to show national politicians that environmental issues matter to people. Today, it is observed through action days, workshops, and festivals all over the world. But there may never have been a more important time to consciously embrace the opportunity to look our neighbors in the eye and have this critical conversation together.
Loving the future is a form of resistance. Choosing to take action in the face of crisis; stepping into what is possible when circumstances scream for giving up; actively celebrating this precious environment and community we have (while remaining awake to all it’s challenges) — this is real power.
So on April 22nd, at 7:30 am when I leave my house to go set up for Earth Day, I will kiss that sweet boy on his cheek (where I swear there is still a little baby fat). I will hug him and his brother Evan, and I think about all the children who love this world so much and for whom this hard, hard work is so very worth doing.
Below are pictures of the children (and a pet) who directly inspire the Earth Day team. This is who we do it for…