Earth Day 1990 is a hard act to follow. But a group of environmentalists in New Hampshire have accepted the challenge. They've formed Earth Day U.S.A., a committee dedicated to keeping the event going until at least the year 2000.
"1990 was special," says Bruce Anderson, the president of the group. "It was a chance to energize people, to get them excited again about doing something for the earth. But the challenge of the next 10 years is to put that energy into action. So we're planning to become a national grass-roots headquarters for local environmental action -- a clearinghouse that people can go to for ideas and projects."
That starts with Earth Day this year. Mr. Anderson's group is already hard at work putting together a support network for local activists. "We're not organizing any events at all on the national level," he says. "Anything that happens this year is happening because local organizers are making it happen."
And is anything happening? Denise Gaumer, Earth Day 1991's press secretary, enthusiastically reports that it is. "In the last three weeks alone, we've identified over 500 Earth Day committees in communities around the United States," she says, "and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the groups that formed for last year's Earth Day stayed together and are spearheading this year's celebration, too."
A few examples: "In Washington, D.C., an Earth Day group called METNET is holding an 'eco-thon' -- a walk around the Anacostia River with environmental education stations set up along the way. In Mecklenburg County, N.C., the Earth Coalition is planning a huge event in Marshall Park; they're expecting 25,000 people. In Harrisburg, Pa., the group that sponsored Earth Day last year -- the Pennsylvania Rainforest Action Committee -- is holding an eco-fair with educational exhibits and products. The Earth Day Coalition of Milwaukee is sponsoring an environmental exposition. There are literally hundreds more, and we hear about new ones every day."
(Here in Baltimore, an all-volunteer organization called Earth Day 1991, The Chesapeake Campaign, will hold its next planning meeting Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St. Call 675-8168 or 337-5525 for more information.)
The point of this column is to get you involved, too. As far as EarthWorks is concerned, this year's Earth Day is even more important than last year's. Why? This year we have a chance to prove that personal commitment -- not media hype -- is the root of Earth Day's power. If we make it work in 1991, Earth Day will have a new meaning and a new strength. And it will only get stronger every year.
What you can do *Earth Day is Monday, April 22, but most of the events are planned for the weekends of April 20-21 and April 27-28. Check with local environmental groups to find out what's planned in your community.
*Contact Earth Day U.S.A. The people there will help you find out what's going on in your community -- or help you set something up. They'll suggest places you can get more information, connect you with people who are already organizing programs, advise you on how to work with your local media and city government, and even send you a newsletter about what's being planned this year. Call (603) 929-0220 or write: P.O. Box 810, Epping, N.H. 03042.