I remember the very first earth day in 1970. Although my memories are vague, it made an impression on me.
I was a senior in high school, and I remember going down to Earth Day’s NYC headquarters in advance of the event. It was not that big, and was crammed full of papers, flyers, hand written to do lists and people were coming and going constantly. I spent some time with friends making signs for what would turn out to be an incredible first Earth Day turnout; the crowd was estimated at about a million. The mayor at the time was John Lindsay, and he agreed to shut down Fifth Avenue for the march, in addition to allowing people to flow freely through Central Park. The main organizers of the NYC event – Fred Kent, Pete Grannis, and Kristin and William Hubbard – got a lot of help from the Mayor’s office, even using some of the Mayor’s own staff to help with the huge organizing task.
Many people who participated, even in a small way, in the first Earth Day were changed forever by the experience.
NYC Earth Day organizer Pete Grannis, for example, went on to become a Democratic member of the NYS Assembly from Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island (for about 30 years), where he was always an environmental advocate. After the Assembly, he became Commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation where, in May 2007, he instituted a new Climate Change Office. He left behindon the NYS Office of DEC’s online magazine NYS Conservationist.
As for me, I can’t say for sure what specific impact this event had on my life, but, here I am today, heading up this progressive pr firm and helping, among other worthy organizations, people and causes, an incredible Climate Change scientist, Professor Micha Tomkiewicz. He writes a great, science-based blog on Climate Change called Climate Change Fork. Here’s his latest blog, focused on Earth Day.
For me on this Earth Day, I’ll reminisce about that first Earth Day for a bit, but I’ll continue to honor its lasting legacy by making sure that Professor Tomkiewicz’s voice – and the voices of those who know that we must act now on global warming – get heard loud and clear. What will you do for Earth Day and beyond?