Earth Day: Putting my money where my mouth is

I have moved a few steps away from “Resist” and taken baby steps towards “Persist.”

I am not choosing here to throw more fuel than necessary on the political fires. These words, still in the context of today, have meaning for me that may be different from your interpretation.

I frequently wear a T-shirt sporting the slogan, “Make America Green Again.”  I readily admit that when I first purchased it from the Sierra Club I was experiencing more “resist” than “persist.”

In 2014 I wrote about my love for the San Gabriel Mountains and the joy I felt as a large portion was set aside as a protected National Monument.  And here we are in 2018 attempting to defend that decision. Other areas of beauty and cultural significance are also under threat.

Every time I hear any report encouraging further off-shore drilling here on the west coast (and east, as well) –I think it’s possible my hair may catch fire.

I say that a lot these days.

I have a number of aphorisms and colloquial sayings that amuse my granddaughters. I think they laughed the first time they heard me say, “Put your money where your mouth is.”

The Cambridge Dictionary gives the informal meaning “to show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something.” 

Earth Day weekend provided us a beautiful opportunity to witness the wedding of a very close friend’s son and his as-of-Friday wife. We joined the celebration in Malibu Canyon at a spectacular venue, Calamigos Guest Ranch.

Although this gem, nestled in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu Wine Country has been a rich part of Malibu’s history for 60 years, it was a new experience for us.

Unsure of our traffic patterns, we ventured out early and determined we’d enjoy the grounds and have lunch prior to the 5:00 PM ceremony. We sat for an hour or more enjoying the ambiance of The Malibu Cafe at Calamigos.

We took note of the sign posted in a prominent location and I smiled when it occurred to me that we were going to LITERALLY put our money where our mouths were.

California has been a leader in environmental issues for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the era when we had “smog alerts” that forced us indoors. I haven’t felt that familiar tight-chested-burning-lung-feeling in a very, very long time. We have a difficult time with air quality based on high density population and “gazillions” of cars, but we have strict emission standards in this state. My grandchildren have better air quality than I had as a child. You can’t say that about many things!

This isn’t the time for me to outline all that is being done in California to further protect our environment and maintain a strong leadership position, but even in a progressive state not all are onboard.

I am.

When I was a young girl, I think around 11 years old, I won an essay contest in which I responded to President Kennedy’s call for increased awareness of environmental conservation. I doubt I used any words about “ecology” or “environmentalism,” as this was just an initial foray into a budding awareness of pioneers like Rachel Carson who was receiving scathing pressure and abuse for her efforts to eradicate the use of the “popular” fumigant-DDT.

I doubt I consciously knew that at the time, but it was in the context of that era when our President was challenging young students to be active participants in the world they wanted to inherit. We were introduced to “physical fitness,” and some measure of responsibility for caring for the natural world. I was introduced to the word “conservation” and remember thinking at the time that  examples of making effective changes through small actions simply made sense!

My “winning” essay granted me the opportunity to be the only student in our school provided a weekly pull-out opportunity to take classes at our local Arboretum.

Long before I understood one thing about climate change or knew the word “sustainability” or had any thought that resources were not unlimited, I was still aware that we are connected to the natural world. We are not separate.

I’ll soon be sharing more about where this photo was taken.  It’s from one of my favorite spots. I love the photo because I see harmony between the gull, human interaction in the beach below, iconic palm trees and the beautiful ocean. It’s all there. We all live in that intersection.

A conservationist is a person who advocates or acts for the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife.

By that definition, I am a conservationist. And I have only to think of my grandchildren to choose to persist!

And it’s not just giant Sulcata Tortoises that love me for my activism. Look closely!

Earth Day weekend has been eventful and a time to reflect. And I have. And I will persist.

But if a mouse ever drops out of a tree and lands on my head, disregard every word I just shared about caring about ALL of the natural world. We may then need to talk about moving from persistent to consistent.

I’m not perfect!


36 thoughts on “Earth Day: Putting my money where my mouth is

    1. My consistency gets put to the test all the time, I’m afraid, Frank, but I am very serious about my intention and I keep learning every day. There are some fabulous organizations and groups committed to furthering awareness and change. They’re my current beacons. 🙂

  1. I LOVE that photo of you, Grasshopper! 😀

    Like you, my Earth Day roots go way, way back. It’s disheartening that EVERYONE is not yet on board with the NEED to protect our HOME from corporate GREED and POLLUTION.

    Here’s looking at YOU, kid!

    1. The wedding was Friday and the grasshopper “landed” on Saturday. I felt very connected to all things living. LOL! I have yet to figure out why sometimes even simple conversation about environmental concerns become polarizing. I definitely gravitate to people who share this concern, however. I’m not at all surprised that you share in my concern, Nancy. But it’s always nice to hear it, I admit. 🙂

    1. We can do what we can do, right? I was envious of your weekend “positioning.” 🙂 Beautiful views and quality friendship. I’m sure it was wonderful!

  2. Wonderful post, Debra! I’ll invite my sister in Oregon to join in and together we three will make a west coast persisterhood. 🙂 All of us conservationists at heart.

  3. You are not alone. If California secedes from the union, I’ll be moving out there! I always smile when I see a product that says “this product may cause cancer in the state of California.” Having a generation of hippies there has done a lot. We need hippies in Washington!

    1. You’ve made me laugh! I could go on and on about some of the regulations that pass here, and the decision making doesn’t please everyone, of course! I thought of you the other day when I heard Starbucks and other “coffee houses” were going to have the now infamous “May cause Cancer” warnings. I don’t know if that’s going to truly go into effect or if that was just a rumor. It is true that for all the regulations we live under the general population is still predominantly independent and a tad rebellious. We’d love to have you. Secession or not. LOL!

  4. I love that café sign Debra! We should definitely have more businesses taking the initiative in this way if our governments won’t. After all, we also bear responsibility. Lovely and uplifting post!

    1. Thank you so much, Cathy. I don’t know of many initiatives like this particular one in Malibu, but I’d like to think there will be more people with the same propositions. The “fee” is optional, and it seems to me it wouldn’t negatively affect any businesses. In many ways I think it’s possibly a positive out of a negative that individuals are coalescing around environmental concerns and joining advocacy groups to counteract governmental decisions that seem entirely counterintuitive. I always enjoy hearing from you, my friend.

    1. You say in two lines what it took me 800 to state, Jim. I only remain hopeful because I know how many people do feel as strongly as I. We are in it together, and for the “long haul.” Thank you.

  5. I am often reminded of how grateful I am to have been born, raised, and now continue to live in California where our environmentalist roots run deep. That being said, I detest grasshoppers (or, at least the damage they do) so, I probably wouldn’t have been very happy to have one land on my hat. My credentials as a tree-hugger go only so far.

  6. What an uplifting post and gentle reminder of how far we’ve come and have yet to go and the need, stronger than ever, to persist.

    I am not surprised that you were the young author of a winning essay on the environment, Debra, nor that you have followed a path of awareness throughout your life. I have no small measure of comfort knowing that there you are on far western end of Route 66 and here I am at the eastern terminal, a duet of conservationists (with the exception mice). 🙂 – It remains a big comfort.

    LOVE the signpost.

  7. Dear Debra, thank you for sharing the story of your ongoing and early understanding of being a steward to the Earth. That’s one cause that I’ve never–to my shame–been involved in. It’s time now to see what I can do so that our beautiful earth will be preserved for the children who have lent it to us. Now that I no longer drive, I have become some what of a recluse. But I’m sure I can use fewer plastic containers and do other things to preserve our Earth. Letter writing maybe–to Congress and a president who refuses to accept the scientific proof that we are at crisis-stage. If you have any suggestions for me, I’d appreciate your sharing them. Peace.

  8. Thanks Debra, that was very upliftng to read. It’s that awareness that we humans are just one part of a rich and varied ecosystem that we need to somehow get across to others.

  9. I bet these days it’s easy to resist rather than persist. But you are right. We should instead put the money were our mouths are. Cool to have won that essay. It’s obvious that the interest for Mother Nature and Earth has persisted throughout the years since. A belated Happy Earth Day, Beth.

  10. Isn’t it funny that your granddaughter never heard that expression. I’m going to try it on my grand children soon and see what they think. I think it’s a perfect expression and yes, I am a conservationist too. A friend of mine just moved to Austin and joined the lady bird garden committee or something like that. LBJ’s Wife was a huge believer in beautifying the landscape of America and encouraged the planting of wildflower seeds to much of the country. We need more leaders in this country to speak up for our air and beautiful mountains and Fields and seas. But each one of us individually can make a difference too, I think. Fabulous post.

    1. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful response. I enjoy connecting with others who feel, as I do, that we must be more focused on preserving nature in any way we can. Even small gestures are something! I remember Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts with wildflowers and think your friend must be very happy participating in that conservancy. I’m currently looking for something local where I can be involved and work alongside others with similar interests. 🙂

  11. Your efforts at the age of 11 does not surprise me about you Debra. You are a great conservationists example to us all and especially to your granddaughters. I am sure they will continue acting on behalf of the environment because of their persistent role model. I too thought things were not right in this world at a young age, despite teasing from family and friends (still until this day) about certain lifestyle and major neglect on our part for the environment. Happy preserving and respect to all beings.

    1. Thank you so much, Cristina. I think I’ve been so encouraged with the reminder that as long as we are world citizens, we can still make many of the changes we want to see. We can advocate and add our support to organizations that will continue in their efforts toward ecological responsibility despite the apparent setbacks. I do have such a heart for our children and grandchildren, and I continue to think that although it isn’t fair to them to have to be responsible for what we leave behind, they are capable and I have a lot of hope in them. Here I go…don’t ever give me a soap box. LOL! Thank you, my friend.

  12. A very cool post, Debra! That is a giant Sulcata Tortoises. 🙂
    I, too, respect Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts with wildflowers and beautifying highways.

    1. Thank you, Amy. As frustrated as I can become sometimes with decisions that seem to undermine the progress we’ve made in ecological responsibility, it’s going to ultimately be up to us as private citizens taking the lead. I feel encouraged that so many of us really do care and are willing to be citizen activists. 🙂

  13. Wow Debra, not only food for thought but a feast! So many ideas and avenues of contemplation. You inspired and engaged me completely.
    Thanks for a post of depth and quality…

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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