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Earth Day 2017 – Stop and Look Around!

Write on Cue

by Huw Le Lytle

Welcome to our very first Write on Cue! We have received so many wonderful ideas and questions and topics. And we will be writing on one of your topics every Friday. So do keep them coming in by emailing us or using the form on the Write on Cue page. And watch out for some of the exciting topics to come … toys, cartoon dogs, and more!

Huw Le Lytle takes on our first topic – Earth Day!

IMG_2015Tomorrow, 22 April 2017, is Earth Day. And in fact, the very first international Earth Day was 22 April 1970.

I like the idea of celebrating the Earth. And a world day is a good idea, because the world park isn’t doing very well at playing together at the moment. But I also think the Earth is something that should be marvelled at every single day.

The Earth is full of potential. It is all about creating new growth and life. And the Earth is all about gathering together, and living and working together, just like Earth Day. It’s a lot like the park. I like to celebrate the Earth every day in the park. We sniff lots of spaces, and roll in freshly cut grass, and paddle in puddles, and zoom and zoom and zoom. As a dog, I like to demonstrate my relationship to the Earth with every walk. Nothing escapes my attention. And I think this is something humans need to think about more and more. They are not as good at paying attention as we are. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

IMG_2354The idea behind Earth Day came from a man called John McConnell who was a peace activist. This term may sound strange – peace activist – but I think it takes a dog to understand the relationship between being peaceful and being active. Just think of zoomies!

Mr McConnell said humans have an obligation to take care of the Earth. I guess it is a bit like treating the Earth as a friend, not a thing. At a UNESCO Conference in 1969, he proposed a day to honour the Earth and suggested the celebrations for the spring/autumn equinox (21 March). And 21 March 1970, they had the first Equinox Earth Day in San Francisco and a few other cities in California.

But a US Senator, Gaylord Nelson, founded a separate Earth Day a month later, 22 April 1970. And it went global 20 years later in 1990 in what we now know as Earth Day.

Senator Nelson’s Earth Day was launched as an “environmental teach-in”. A “teach-in” is like a sit-in where the biggest tool of protest is education. I like that.

IMG_2079For humans, teach-ins really became prominent with protests over the Vietnam War. And more recently, the Occupy movement actually began as teach-ins.

A teach-in is a sort of open-ended education forum. Anyone can take part and all levels of expertise are welcome. So I think a teach-in is a bit like socialising in the park. It isn’t a formal classroom setting, It is a general setting for participation and practice and action in the park. We all come from different backgrounds and levels of experience and, with the right setting and opportunity for discussion and questions, we can all learn a lot from each other. And we can become friends. And that’s to the benefit of everyone in the park. So I like the teach-in.

And 22 April is also the birthday of Walt Disney’s mother, Flora Call, who was born 22 April 1868. Walt Disney was himself a great lover of nature and the environment and in 1955 he was awarded one of the highest honours in conservation, the Audubon Medal, for promoting the “appreciation and understanding of nature” in his films. And 130 years after Flora’s birth, Animal Kingdom was opened in Disney World, 22 April 1998. Animal Kingdom is an accredited zoological park dedicated to environmental education, conservation and research. They also rehabilitate animals for reintroduction into the wild. Now I know there is a lot of debate about the roles of zoos, and whether we should have zoos, but there are also lots of reasons zoos are crucial to conservation efforts. And some good news is that Animal Kingdom has managed to breed eight critically endangered white rhinos. And they are presenting conservation to children and adults in an entertaining way, which hopefully helps deliver the message of the value and importance of animals and nature. In a way, it is almost like a new chapter in the teach-in, with tens of millions of visitors every year, learning about how to look after the Earth.

So, we wish a very happy Earth Day to everyone. Make sure you stop and look around.

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