Earth Day: Putting my money where my mouth is

I have moved a few steps away from “Resist” and taken baby steps towards “Persist.”

I am not choosing here to throw more fuel than necessary on the political fires. These words, still in the context of today, have meaning for me that may be different from your interpretation.

I frequently wear a T-shirt sporting the slogan, “Make America Green Again.”  I readily admit that when I first purchased it from the Sierra Club I was experiencing more “resist” than “persist.”

In 2014 I wrote about my love for the San Gabriel Mountains and the joy I felt as a large portion was set aside as a protected National Monument.  And here we are in 2018 attempting to defend that decision. Other areas of beauty and cultural significance are also under threat.

Every time I hear any report encouraging further off-shore drilling here on the west coast (and east, as well) –I think it’s possible my hair may catch fire.

I say that a lot these days.

I have a number of aphorisms and colloquial sayings that amuse my granddaughters. I think they laughed the first time they heard me say, “Put your money where your mouth is.”

The Cambridge Dictionary gives the informal meaning “to show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something.” 

Earth Day weekend provided us a beautiful opportunity to witness the wedding of a very close friend’s son and his as-of-Friday wife. We joined the celebration in Malibu Canyon at a spectacular venue, Calamigos Guest Ranch.

Although this gem, nestled in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu Wine Country has been a rich part of Malibu’s history for 60 years, it was a new experience for us.

Unsure of our traffic patterns, we ventured out early and determined we’d enjoy the grounds and have lunch prior to the 5:00 PM ceremony. We sat for an hour or more enjoying the ambiance of The Malibu Cafe at Calamigos.

We took note of the sign posted in a prominent location and I smiled when it occurred to me that we were going to LITERALLY put our money where our mouths were.

California has been a leader in environmental issues for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the era when we had “smog alerts” that forced us indoors. I haven’t felt that familiar tight-chested-burning-lung-feeling in a very, very long time. We have a difficult time with air quality based on high density population and “gazillions” of cars, but we have strict emission standards in this state. My grandchildren have better air quality than I had as a child. You can’t say that about many things!

This isn’t the time for me to outline all that is being done in California to further protect our environment and maintain a strong leadership position, but even in a progressive state not all are onboard.

I am.

When I was a young girl, I think around 11 years old, I won an essay contest in which I responded to President Kennedy’s call for increased awareness of environmental conservation. I doubt I used any words about “ecology” or “environmentalism,” as this was just an initial foray into a budding awareness of pioneers like Rachel Carson who was receiving scathing pressure and abuse for her efforts to eradicate the use of the “popular” fumigant-DDT.

I doubt I consciously knew that at the time, but it was in the context of that era when our President was challenging young students to be active participants in the world they wanted to inherit. We were introduced to “physical fitness,” and some measure of responsibility for caring for the natural world. I was introduced to the word “conservation” and remember thinking at the time that  examples of making effective changes through small actions simply made sense!

My “winning” essay granted me the opportunity to be the only student in our school provided a weekly pull-out opportunity to take classes at our local Arboretum.

Long before I understood one thing about climate change or knew the word “sustainability” or had any thought that resources were not unlimited, I was still aware that we are connected to the natural world. We are not separate.

I’ll soon be sharing more about where this photo was taken.  It’s from one of my favorite spots. I love the photo because I see harmony between the gull, human interaction in the beach below, iconic palm trees and the beautiful ocean. It’s all there. We all live in that intersection.

A conservationist is a person who advocates or acts for the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife.

By that definition, I am a conservationist. And I have only to think of my grandchildren to choose to persist!

And it’s not just giant Sulcata Tortoises that love me for my activism. Look closely!

Earth Day weekend has been eventful and a time to reflect. And I have. And I will persist.

But if a mouse ever drops out of a tree and lands on my head, disregard every word I just shared about caring about ALL of the natural world. We may then need to talk about moving from persistent to consistent.

I’m not perfect!