2015 is certainly a year for anniversaries. Federated Conservationists has entered its fifth decade, and Earth Day is celebrating its 45th year. When looking back to the first celebration of Earth Day, it is easy to wonder if the 20 million Americans who gathered across the country knew what their movement would become.
In 1970 the Beatles’ “Let It Be” topped the charts for the year; the Vietnam War sparked anti-war protests among students nationwide; and the hippie and flower child culture was at its height. The United States of 1970 was a much different place than it is today.
The roots of the environmental movement stem from this period in history. Earth Day 1970 used the energy from anti-war protests to bring environmental concerns to the forefront of politics; it united those concerned individuals as activists under an environmental banner.
Prior to 1970, environmental degradation was not clearly in the public consciousness. There were only small rumblings that human activities were causing disturbances in the environment. For example Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was a NY Times bestseller in 1962, however the general consensus was that poor air and water quality was simply a product of successful development and economic growth.
On April 22nd, 1970 small groups of Americans gathered to support the Earth. There were teach-ins, organizational efforts to pick up trash, trees plantings, and peaceful marches. The next day the opening line of the New York Times read, “Huge, light-hearted throngs ambled down autoless streets here yesterday as the city heeded Earth Day’s call for a regeneration of a polluted environment by celebrating an exuberant rite of spring.” Earth Day 1970 brought environmental activism to the mainstream, and started the flow of important environmental legislation like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
It’s humbling to think that FCWC has been around long enough to witness the first Earth Day and the passage of environmental legislation that followed. To honor half a century of environmental progress and to celebrate our favorite holiday, we would like to bring our friends outside to enjoy what these many years of work have been about: a greener, cleaner Westchester.
We are co-sponsoring a hike with Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. We feel this is the perfect way to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re going, and illustrates the importance of our environmental work. We hope you’ll join us.
To register, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fcwcs-earth-day-celebration-tickets-16207926344 . Happy Earth Day!