Happy Earth Day: Finding Your Inner Hummingbird

How can we live better all together? Or we’ll be dying all together? No? (Sebastiao Salgado, Photographer)

On April 22nd we are invited to celebrate Earth Day.  Let’s celebrate by discussing earth friendly products that you can buy.

Then again, maybe we should think about something other than shopping. It’s not that earth friendly products are a bad idea; however, on Earth Day of all days it is a good time to really think about the problems that are plaguing our environment.  What do we know about these problems?  What can we learn and, more importantly, what can we as individuals do to effect change in our own humble, but important way?

Sit back and prepare your mind, because the ideas presented in the work of the following organizations are certain to grab your attention.

A recent screening of the documentary Dirt! The Movie on PBS presented a valuable opportunity for viewers to learn about some of the fundamental problems that we face on the earth today.  The state of dirt (soil) and how we handle it will make all the difference for the future of young children today.  This documentary features the inspiring work of organizations such as:

Hearty Roots Community Farm: Hearty Roots Community Farm is located in the village of Tivoli in New York’s Hudson Valley. The farm is a community resource where people can connect with the land and one another – fill the belly and the soul!  The heart of the farm is our Farm Share Program (based on the Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, model used by hundreds of small farms around the world). Check out a video about this organization on the Related Videos page

– the Land Institute (Instituto Terra):  Once completely denuded by logging and cattle grazing, Instituto Terra is an international center which promotes reforestation and environmental education in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Check out a video about this organization on the Related Videos page

“What I want in my pictures is not that they’ll look like art objects. They are journalist pictures. All my pictures. No exceptions.” S. Salgado

NY Times article about book release

Book publisher information

Biographical information

Sustainable South Bronx:  Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) is a community organization dedicated to Environmental Justice solutions through innovative, economically sustainable projects that are informed by community needs. In 2001, SSBx was created to address policy and planning issues like land use, energy, transportation, water, waste, education, and, most recently, design and manufacturing. Check out a video about this organization on the Related Videos page

Tree People:  TreePeople is an environmental nonprofit that unites the power of trees, people and technology to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles. Simply put, our work is about helping nature heal our cities. Check out a video about this organization on the Related Videos page

the Edible Schoolyard (organized by Alice Waters, founder of the Slow Foods movement):  The Edible Schoolyard (ESY), a program of the Chez Panisse Foundation, is a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom for urban public school students at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. At ESY, students participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce. Check out a video about this organization on the Related Videos page

– the ideas of Vandana Shiva, author of Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis Check out a video about Vandana Shiva on the Related Videos page

– the ideas of Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement.  The mission of the Green Belt Movement (GBM) is to mobilize community consciousness for self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods and security, and environmental conservation. Wangari retells the important story of the hummingbird and the forest fire and challenges each of us to make a difference, even in a small way.  Collectively our efforts will effect change. Check out a video about this organization on the Related Videos page

Trees for Democracy – Article about Wangari Maathai

– the ideas of Barbara Damrosch, owner of Four Season Farm and author of the Garden Primer: Four Season Farm is an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine, owned and operated by writers Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman. The farm produces vegetables year-round and has become a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture.

– the views of William Bryant Logan, author of Dirt!  The Estatic Skin of the Earth

Peter Girguis‘ research on soil energy at Harvard University

the Greenhouse Program – an outreach program for inmates in New  York state

Unfortunately unlike programmes such as Frontline, the Independent Lens on PBS does not offer a full viewing of this documentary on its site.  This means that people who missed seeing the show on PBS will have to catch it at a local cinema.  This seems fair enough since it is a documentary; however, unfortunately this is the type of documentary that many people will not go out of their way to watch.  If people could have a chance to hear the arguments presented in Dirt! The Movie they would feel strongly motivated to effect change in their own community and home.

Some of the most interesting ideas on the show include:

– perennials, rather than annuals, that are indigenous to an area grow much deeper roots and help to stop soil erosion

– addressing the issue of soil erosion would have a drastic effect on environmental problems

– given the right tools and approaches – as described in the documentary – Ethiopia could feed a good portion of Africa’s population

– converting pavement in schoolyards to gardens has a profound effect on the lives of students

– within tens years reforestation could completely reverse the effects of deforestation

Did you miss this documentary on PBS?  If you’re intrigued enough by these ideas, watch the preview and think about ordering a copy for your home.  A video about dirt?  Why ever not?  The new understandings you gain could change the way you and your family live within your community.


Dirt!  The Movie (DVD)

Dirt! The Movie Film Clip #1

Dirt! The Movie Film Clip #2

Dirt! The Movie Film Clip #3

PBS.org/Dirt-the-movie site

Check out a list of Eco-friendly websites on Ecoholicnation.ca

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