Are you an environmentalist?

20 Apr

Staying up until 3am, as a parent (when sleeping in is not an option), feels completely out of line. However, preparing for The Green Schools Alliance resource fair, thinking about how to engage our communities in sustainable ways, found me up until such a wee hour. I felt a sense of solidarity when the first speaker John Shea, CEO, NYC DOE Division of School Facilities (DSF) began his speech by admitting he’d also been up until 3am thinking about how to engage the attendees in a way that would better inspire and prepare them for the work we all do in our smaller communities in the name of environmentalism.

Of course in our smaller circles, we don’t all call ourselves environmentalists. Though I’m not sure why not. If an environmentalist is someone who loves their homeland, this great land we call Earth, that loves to breathe fresh air and drink clean fresh water, then shouldn’t we all be proud to be environmentalists? If we simply call ourselves people who love life, are we conveying this message?

It makes me think of the word organic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across people, who in bright defiant spirit have said something about not wanting to eat organic, because it is healthy and expensive. There is a connotation that organic is some fancy new thing, and people like good old traditional food, not fancy new food. And yet, it is the good old food that never needed a name fancier than food, that has been hijacked and altered by the overuse of pesticides and herbicides due to unsustainable farming practices.

I had this conversation with a group of 4th graders not too long ago – about organic food. They were all against it.. but when I asked them what organic meant, they didn’t know. I began to describe the life of a farmer. I presented the difficult decisions that farmers and gardeners face when the food they are working so hard to grow gets eaten by animals or insects and pests. There are practices that require alternating fields, covering grounds, digging stakes and strategically preventing or dealing with pests in a way that doesn’t involve adding toxins that are dangerous. Then, there is the alternative of adding toxins that are dangerous.

It doesn’t take long for kids to catch on.

Sustainability. I salute the organizers of the Green Schools Alliance for taking on the task of organizing all of our children. We can turn the tide. We can lead healthy happy sustainable lives. We are creative beings, and our children, even more so.

Cooking classes continue this week.. look out for yummy recipes soon.

For now, catching up on sleep is first.

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