Re-imagining Earth Day 2020 — While Adjusting to a Global Pandemic

Mar 20, 2020 | Kick Out Climate Blues

I hope today finds you well, your loved ones safe, and your community caring for every member.

As we each hunker down with our “Corona Crew” – the small group of people we’re not distancing ourselves from —  it seems like a good time to give everybody, including ourselves, a whole lot of slack.

Slack for the partner who is suddenly in our space all the time — and just left the toilet seat up againSlack for the child whining to play Fortnite.
Slack for the grocery clerk who touched his nose  — twice — while bagging our veggies.
Slack for ourselves when we don’t get much done in a day, beyond simply adjusting to this strange new life.

I know I’m not the only one who can’t get my bearings. I mean, a week ago, I was at a dinner party with eight friends from four different households, elbow-to-elbow, talking and laughing. The hot topic was the Democratic primary (remember that?) and we debated passionately about Biden vs. Bernie. Droplets were most definitely flying.

A week ago, we all had Plans. I had a newly empty nest, book tours, and Earth Day 2020 strikes to help organize. Within days, my tours moved off the calendar, my kids moved back home, and Earth Day moved online. Others deal with harsher fallout — layoffs, hunger, sudden isolation — but everyone shares a sense of uncertainty about what lies ahead.

So, today, I invite us all to just relax and adjust. Maybe even dream a little about what we’d like from coming weeks, beyond the obvious goals of physical, mental, and financial health. And, in hopes that we can begin to imagine a new approach to Earth Day 2020, I’ll share photos of my Earth Day 2014 interactive front lawn installation.

In it, I asked community members: “What action will you take for future generations?” In response, students from elementary to graduate school created 200 flags that Eugene displayed on campus. It was later moved to my family’s lawn, where neighbors and passersby added more flags over several weeks. The flags, cut from old sheets, were interspersed with flags featuring Dr. Seuss’ famous tree-loving Lorax.


The invitation: “What action will YOU take on behalf of future generations?”


The kids tended toward drawings


Kids also focused almost exclusively on personal lifestyle changes such as stopping driving — and, in this one, smoking.


Adults weigh in.


People are invited to draw or write, then place the flag in the mailbox painted by my artist daughter; new flags were hung within a couple of days.


Here’s one — finally!– that mentions policy change.


The one on the right: ” I will fight the fossil fuel corridor!”


It grows quickly . . . 


. . . into a beautiful menu of ideas for action!

As the weather warms and Earth Day approaches, I invite us each to reflect, at whatever level our circumstances allow, on how we might creatively use any public spaces we control — lawns, office doors, apartment windows, cars, bikes, T-shirts, email signature lines– to advocate for the protection of everything we love.


Author Notes:

For artistic inspiration, including a two-story Sun Queen puppet, a block-long faux gas pipeline, and 450 people creatively asking world leaders to get OFF dirty energy — and ON clean, check out the Art in Action page!

For even more ideas, especially for parents suddenly homeschooling children, check out my book: The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep (Foreword by Bill McKibben) AND . . . 

***COMING MONDAY March 23th***

In response to COVID-19, I’ll be launching an online support project:

The Parents’ Guide to Safe Climates (During Corona): 100 Ways to Engage & Empower Kids, Protect the Future — And Not Lose Your Mind.

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