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Gardens for Humanity: Make a Difference on Earth Day

An image that has stuck with me since I was very young is that of a pebble tossed into a pond. I learned that day that even a small pebble could send out circles of waves that will eventually reach a far shore.

On April 22, 1970 the first Earth Day was celebrated, and like a pebble dropped into the consciousness of humanity, it continues to make waves. A special day can be held for various reasons – to honor, to commemorate, to celebrate. Earth Day was a different kind of special day. Coming almost a decade after Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” coming at a time when smog alerts were routine in major cities, coming at a time that there was nothing to stop the dumping of poisons into our land and water, the first Earth Day was a wake-up call to action.

In the Verde Valley we have numerous environmental non-profits dedicated to preserving and improving our environment. In 2014, with the initiative and guidance of Darcy Hitchcock, Gardens for Humanity, Keep Sedona Beautiful, Sedona Recycles, and Friends of the Verde River formed a Sustainability Alliance. Darcy recognized that each of us was doing an important piece of the sustainability puzzle, and could do even more if we formed an alliance and worked together. Now, the alliance has grown as more non-profits have joined.

Through our alliance we focus on four pillars of sustainability: Climate/Energy, Pollution/Waste, Ecosystems/Water, Community Vitality. Each alliance member addresses some part of each pillar, so together we connect the dots, and view the big picture.

In order to have a healthy and thriving community and environment we work to help raise local awareness, and suggest tools and actions that anyone could use daily. Our goal is to help develop a “culture of sustainability.” Alliance members believe that Earth Day is every day, and that our individual daily choices can make a positive impact.

After a fun summer’s day at the creek, I gave my day-campers trash bags so we could leave the creek better than we found it. After collecting all the trash left by careless visitors, we dumped the contents of one of the bags to look at what we collected. I asked the kids if they found any trash from foods or drinks that were healthy. All the trash was from items that would be called “junk food,” not to mention the beer cans and bottles, cigarette butts, and even disposable diapers!

The kids saw that before people polluted the creek, they polluted their bodies! If we can’t take care of ourselves, how can we be expected to take care of our planet? Looking to the future, our children and grandchildren will need the skills and passion to clean and heal our Earth. It is heartening to see many of them take on such tasks with enthusiasm!

“Gardens for Humanity’s mission is to develop and share our relationships with Humanity and Nature through gardening, art, and education.” This reinforces our belief that when we become caretakers of the Earth we touch our own humanity, that part of our nature that nourishes. This is the source of building positive, healthy, and enduring relationships.

To find out more about how you can make a difference and live “Earth Day Every Day” visit GardensForHumanity.org and SustainabilityAllianceAZ.org/about-2.

Richard Sidy is president of Gardens for Humanity, a founding member of the Sustainability Alliance and a member of the Verde Valley Food Policy Council. To reach him, email president@gardensforhumanity.org.

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