Earth Day 2009

I’ve not been doing such a good job of keeping up with this blog over the past little while. I have been busy with things like grading, the Niagara Social Justice Forum, a sick kitty (who is now on the mend, thankfully!), spring cleaning and various other activities. But as spring unfolds it is time to find new routines, ones which include time for blogging and creative writing. I know it sounds funny but making time for these types of writing is beneficial to my academic writing process.

Spring also means that it is time to start thinking about gardening. Over the past few weekends we’ve spent time cleaning up the yard, raking up leaves and turning over the soil. The bird baths and the picnic table have come out of the shed, the BBQ has been used a few times. I’ve got several trays of seeds going in the living room — wild bergamot, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, chives, onions and other such goodies. I want to get the seed potatoes and the sweet peas in this weekend.

It is Earth Day today. There is an interesting article by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker about the history of Earth Day, a discussion of how Earth Day has “lost its edge,” how it has become a mainstream occasion instead of a radical, fringe effort. I’m not sure this is entirely a bad thing, but I do agree with Kolbert’s conclusion that grass-roots activism is essential for continuing to imagine ways in which society can change. (Update: just saw this interesting article on the topic in the Toronto Star)

There seems to be more consideration of things “eco” and “green” in many aspects of our lives these days. You can’t listen to the news without hearing mention of the environment. But are things really changing? Certainly there seems to be a higher level of awareness of environmental issues, and that is a good thing. I am heartened by the attention being paid to the environment in places like the grocery store — the cloth shopping bag has finally gone mainstream! However, as this article points out, we can’t simply shop our way to environmental salvation.

I will celebrate Earth Day at my desk, working on manuscript revisions. (The subject of the manuscript is ecocriticism, so that counts, right?) Earth Day, of course, is only one day of the year. While celebrating Earth Day has its significance, of greater importance are the choices we make throughout the year. For instance, I’ve been making a real effort to reduce the driving I do. I’ve blogged before about what an adjustment it has been to even have a car, how in the two previous cities I lived in it was actually more convenient not to drive. My long-term goal is to go back to being car-free, but for various reasons that isn’t terribly practical right now. I can, however, reduce the amount of driving I do. In recent weeks I’ve been making efforts to walk, bike, ride transit or car pool more than I previously have. The recent announcement that GO Transit will (finally!) be making its way to Niagara is wonderful news on this front and will surely help more of us to reduce our dependency on our cars.

One thought on “Earth Day 2009

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