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Land & Environmental

Down to Earth | ‘Capture the positive’ on Earth Day

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By Mayor Pam Conine

In 1960, my father bought a 15-foot travel trailer following my mother’s declaration that she would agree to camping vacations only if we could be “up off the ground.”

Thus began a series of vacations that took our five-person family on adventures from coast to coast across our country and into Canada. In 1965 — the year Dad qualified for a five-week vacation — plans were made to take a month and camp our way westward and back after touching our toes in the Pacific. Dad even bought a new ’65 Olds Vista Cruiser with the glass viewing area built into the car’s roof, saying, “So you kids can look up at the mountains when crossing the Continental Divide.”

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Given that we had always been a Ford family, I knew this trip promised to be something special, and I was right. The mountains were majestic and the views spectacular against the bright blue skies of Colorado. Days later, we entered Southern California at Needles, experiencing the desert-like conditions under the hot sun as we drove west, anxious to hit the Pacific beaches. I remember the next part of the trip like it was yesterday. Approaching Los Angeles from the east on what had been a very sunny morning, the sky turned gray and foggy. Thickly foggy. Thickly smoggy!

Most graphic charts and sources I consulted in preparation for this article point to the mid-’60s as closing in on the peak of California’s air pollution crisis. Those of us of a certain age lived through the backyard burn barrels, the DDT being sprayed out of trucks snaking slowly down residential streets, the endless jokes on late-night TV when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in 1969. Remember Lady Bird Johnston’s campaign to end road-side littering? Examples are many and continue ad nauseum.

This brings us to the spring of 1970, when the first Earth Day was celebrated. Created by Sen. Gaylord Nelson, April 22 is the annual anniversary of the modern environmental movement. Web search “50 years on: Earth Day in Yellow Springs” by Megan Bachman in the April 22, 2020 issue of the YS News for what that first Earth Day looked like in the Village.

As for this year’s Earth Day celebration, this being Yellow Springs and all, we will celebrate almost a week of activities in the village. The flier enclosed in the April 14 issue of the News gives the complete schedule for the “Earth Week in Yellow Springs.” Perhaps you’ve had a chance to look over the upcoming events and select your favorites. I might challenge you to pick something you’d like to learn more about — there’s plenty to choose from.

For example: In the mid-80s I had a chance to meet Mary Appelhof, better known as the Worm Woman. She wrote a 1982 book entitled “Worms Eat My Garbage,” which was the first and bestselling guide to the practice of vermicomposting. There will be an OSU Master Gardener-led workshop on the topic at the YS library on Wednesday, April 20, 6–7 p.m.

Want to explore the fields of Agraria during their first BioBlitz? You’ll be paired with an exploratory group after checking in at the barn and head onto the land to identify and record specific species you find on Thursday, April 21, 5–7 p.m. Family friendly!

Saturday is when the action picks up, starting at 8 a.m. with Glen Helen’s spring bird hike taking off from Grinnell Mill. Maybe you’ll luck out and see a pileated woodpecker.

Last year, a most-popular event was the Tecumseh Land Trust Native Plant Sale and Swap at the Glen Helen parking lot from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Hint: don’t be late.

“Celebrate Trails Day” at the YS Train Station is Rails-to-Trails’ way of having a good time. Featuring lots of giveaways at many locally sponsored booths — including food! — by the YSPD and MTFR, the action goes from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Take a tour of the always interesting Raptor Center at Glen Helen during their Earth Day program from 2 to 3 p.m., also on Saturday.

Ever wonder what that tiny white flower is next to the Glen steps? Find out Sunday with a Glen Helen wildflower hike, beginning at Trailside Museum at 1 p.m.

Last but not least comes the Big Kahuna, the “Habitat Community Celebration,” at the new Miami Township fire station parking lot, Sunday from 2–4 p.m. The fabulous local band The Corndrinkers will provide a toe-tapping soundtrack to the event, which will feature native plant and herb vendors, educational displays, children’s activities, a video tour of the Little Miami River, food, seed bags from the YS Community Seed Library, fire truck tours and a chance to win free native milkweed. Come join in the fun!

The human species is facing so many difficult issues in our world community right now, ranging from the war in Ukraine to climate change. Let’s use this Earth Day to capture the positive.

Participate in some of the things that are going right in our world, especially in our local community. I look forward to seeing you at some of our Earth Week events!

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