Why We Care About Earth Day

We've got Gaylord Nelson (and hundreds like Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold setting the stage way before 1970) to thank for getting together 40 years ago people in Washington, DC., to celebrate some of the achievements like clean water and air acts, wilderness designation, a stronger Environmental Protection Agency. Earth Day is a global day, and for us in the USA, we see this as the 40th Anniversary. The United Nations calls 2010 the 41st Earth Day. For youth, they are the Green Generation --way beyond labeling them the echo-, X-ers, Y-, Millennial-, Net- or i- generations. Green. As in reducing consumption, learning how to function with renewable energy, and reusing, recycling and relearning.

SPOKANE -- April 17, 11 AM to midnight -- On Main

Between Division and Browne -- In the Streets, On the Sidewalks

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spokane Lifts Earth Day to a New Level -- No Resting on Our Laurels, Though -- Work Begins to Stop Earth Desecration

So, the discussion since April 17, after a full morning, day, evening and into the night experience we called, Takin' it to the Streets, Spokane! as the 40th Earth Day celebration for a small city, is that the event gave people a number of ways to become active and hopeful. This event brought people together, and in the end, even staid City officials asked politely, out the side of their mouths: "Why can't we do this more often?"

What it was we did was take over streets -- one block of a street called Main Avenue. This was planned as a way to show people in Spokane that the streets are not complete until they are re-appropriated by people. So, we had wheelbarrows, walkers, roller skaters, skateboards, a hand glider, even live raptors, belly dancers, hoop twirlers and a bunch of people with booths and demos and tables and music to come out and break bread and share stories about Earth and Earth Day.

These aren't easy things to accomplish in a world of Byzantine politics, code enforcers, fire marshalls, cops, and health inspectors. We broke concrete to play four urban trees on the block. That was Herculean in itself as all the permits and vetting had to go through the proper channels. In the end, the lessons learned by those younger folk working on the Earth Day events, including digging up concrete and plowing into basalt, is that cities bog down citizens in the name of protecting the greater public health and greater good. In many asides, people were livid at the number of legal-regulatory-openly negative rules we had to follow to do some pretty innocuous and helpful things.

The Day was about celebrating April 22, the official Earth Day going back to 1970. In 1969 the San Francisco Board of Commissioners officially announced Earth Day as that city's weighing in on the bigger national day a year later where more than a million people marched on Washington DC to celebrate the world of clean air, water, land and species integrity, all of which, of course, were being disrupted or negated by our industrial practices.

The entire city and county codes and departmental purview and disconnected permitting processes, all the people with titles, desks, and power, all the politicians who are not quick studies, or who list when seeing community support or community dissent on their favorite issues, all the backroom deals, all the bowing to construction industries, chambers of commerce, and the business sector, all the threats from our state capitols looking to quash any green or sustainability initiative once the economic chopping block is pulled out, all of those caveats and roadblocks tear at the very fabric of participatory democracy, inclusion, community activism.

But this Earth Day showed them, all of them, that citizens can prevail and take back the streets figuratively and literally. We can imagine a world where cars are put aside, where streets can be party or cultural meeting places, where the public spaces we all seek are blocks away from some mall or fast-food court.

We received proclamations from the city and the county, read by the respective politicos within City of Spokane and County of Spokane chambers. What I found interesting at the County proclamation event was that the one commissioner I had been working with on the language had to go to Olympia, and her two male counterparts were sort of taken aback after they read the verbiage.

I had at least 15 minutes with them trying to explain to them the reason why oceanographers look at acidification of the seas as a number one threat, one caused by human-generated greenhouse gasses. These middle-aged white males, I have noticed in this town, and elsewhere, are reluctant to give the science a whirl. They are still mired in false balancing by the media and are still confident about an outright attack on us, this phalanx of scientists and technologists and city designers and planners and stakeholders of every stripe. They attack citizens who study climate change. Why?

At the end of the day, no council member or commissioner still stuck in the 19th Century at the Darwin debate wins the day, to be sure. It all smells rotten, though, when people who are held to the public's trust "standard" and who desire to be agents of change and still try and be combative and sound so smart and elite when they attempt to counter the world with, "There is no proof humans cause global warming . . . there's no proof the earth is even warming up."

Looking at Earth Day, global warming politics, the psychology of group change all some together as a massively fun way to spend the day grappling with code checkers and this cerebral discussion about how we can create an Earth Charter. Looking at all the elements of climate and ecosystem collapses, and seeing the failed response in places like Haiti by the US and the world, it is easy to go apocalyptic.

The failed response of people in the US to educate themselves, to drive themselves toward truths, and to be real humans in a world of other humans and other species is the hardest pill to swallow. Yes, nine out of 10 comments about Earth or Sustainability have some strong sense of perspective if not some support; it's the one out of ten that derides everything, looks at the foolish mindset that says if we want clean air, better transportation choices, better cities, less corporate control, and more community activism that we must be hypocritical hippies who live off the inventions and grand toys and services of the corporation and yet continue berating them. This is a democratic movement, not socialistic, though socialism is a great way to pull other elements in climate change together.

The illogical grounding of that statement saying we have to accept the materials economy as is speaks volumes to the lack of intelligent thinking and maybe sound teaching going on in our schools. Have we hobbled educators that much and our selves in so-called polite company, that we can't work these retrogrades through their pain, their misapplied concept of political and community activism, with education without fear of being stopped, silenced?

Yes, more public transportation, more efficiency, and more walking and biking, but that does not mean the car is dead. We want a set of lifestyle choices, sure, but we don't want those choices at the expense of failed ecosystems, extinctions, toxicity and our own species' ailments all caused by corporations run amok or gone unchecked. It's this line of thinking that produces the failed intelligence at city council meetings, in town halls, on TV when tea bag party folk yammer on and on about meaningless and groundless "stuff" because they happen to be self-imposed/self-inflicted disenfranchised white men and women.

Earth Day is about dialogue, thinking and moving ahead. The work to be done is there, and the challenges we face have yet to be written.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Benediction for People Working on the Earth

Spokane – Just the Way Light of Sun Touches the Backs of Earth Volunteers
By Paul K. Haeder

for the people who worked, for the people who shared Earth Day 2010 Takin’ it to the Streets, Spokane!

she came into life from glaciers imploding
basalt columns ripped from geological core
scarring earth, the lift of eagles broken
by the roar of the ice dam fracturing
giant blue heron settled eating purple frogs
they all listened to the roar, even the tribes

artery of river stone, the open wound
clear water, the gapping pools where Coho
settle for energy, in the collecting pools of sun water
where grizzly belly up and rip open dog fish
bigger than children, bigger than myths

this is a memory that isn’t lamentation but clarity
we can believe the history of our biophilia, our grand
hope for some reckoning with the wagers
who would sell every white pine for chopsticks
who would let the goo of arsenic tailings
settle into the bones of gorgeous rivers

you did fight that spasm, oddly enough, that odd nature
in most humans, a day of recapturing the light
when clouds and wind and Douglass fir trapped pheromones
sailed together on Gaia's wet morning breath,
the buzz of bees harkening in the same fold of time

this is how we live a modern ghost dance
no eulogies any more, just utilitarian ground truthing
hard fought battles to bring the purveyors of greed
to their knees, yet we drink the ferment of this life
in Spokane, making celebration and war one

give each other elbows, the full arm salutation
remember we worked like bees
pollinating a city we see as old, tired, but a future place
where some of us will ghost dance with salmon
and the grandmother lynx, where caribou herds will trample lichen
for miles . . . . we believed and did . . .

. . . so children will gather polished river stones from
the very water in their blood
pure, clean, and more than a dream
because of us, each one of us together.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Count Down to 40 years of Earth Justice, or Earth Regard, or Earth Struggle

It's all about people. Join us April 17, at 7 a.m. to put up the tables, the booths, the fun for kids and family and singles all alike. Main, between Browne and Division.

Here's my latest piece as a columnist with Down to Earth. It says it all about the battle for sanity within the earth justice movement.

Thanks to five dozen participating organizations, 100 individuals, a dozen vendors of food, and all the effort underwriters have put in.


Earth Day can’t be Hijacked by Madison Avenue –
Putting the “A” in Earth

Here comes the drum roll for Earth Day 2010. . . .

Earth Day 2010 could be a turning point in forcing the US and G-8, G-20, Group of 4, or Group of 77 to move aggressively toward green jobs, energy efficiency, renewable energy, food security and more, all under the marquee of Climate Change Paradigm Shift.

According to the Earth Day Network, 1 billion of us will celebrate and take action for Earth Day. The first one was loosely organized 40 years ago, largely with the political clout and will of Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who asked Americans to consider the burning rivers in Ohio, massive waves of smog in LA, and unending eutrophication of our nation’s lakes as contrary to American values, and against the American ideal of “this land is your land.”

This 40th one – April 17 in Spokane and then up to April 24 as the nation celebrates in Washington, D.C. — occurs when the world is scrambling to plan for climate change, sea level rise, freshwater shortages, loss of soil volume and fecundity, human and animal displacement, and dozens of other ecosystem strains. Think about planning for human diasporas beyond calculation.

It’s also an era of huge energy and fossil fuel monopolies not only wresting control of our energy policies, but determining foreign policy and military engagement. On one hand, scientists are looking at the impacts of mountaintop removal and coal mining and burning coal on local watersheds as well as the global atmosphere. They’re studying the loss of nutritional value in crops due to climate change. And looking into the causes of pollinators like bees collapsing as a species. And why some forests are receding and other flora like sagebrush is advancing.

Working in tundra country and on the ice shelves of the world, underwater along the coral atolls and high atop elfin forests in rainforests, scientists are gathering forensic evidence from those smoking guns we all began to suspect as earth’s killers in the early 1990s. Somehow, we in the environmental movement began to see humanity’s waste and consumption as harbingers of climate change and the Sixth Mass extinction.

The sciences, deep ecology, policy think tanks, grassroots organizing and community empowerment associated with Earth Day don’t just stay anchored to stewarding wild places, protecting wildlife and working on humanity’s need for open spaces or parks.

Earth Day 2010, for example, is about Charles Moore’s work as a sea captain studying the giant plastic gyre (garbage patch) in the Pacific. The size of Texas, this garbage swill contains more plastic shards and micro-small pieces of plastic than animal life – at a rate of 6 to 1.

April 22 is about Janine Benyus looking at nature as a blueprint and operating system in an area known as biomimicry. Remember Velcro? Think snaggy thistle or any number of weeds. Her work looks at reducing resource harvesting, enhancing the life cycle of products, and replicating nature’s designs applied to the way we build buildings and create cities by cutting out toxins and decelerating materials use and energy consumption.

Rachel Carson is not a long-gone and overused icon of the environmental movement this Earth Day because, unfortunately, her 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” did not stop the exponential growth in organo-chemicals and other synthetics used in almost every process of our daily lives, even in daily breaking of bread.

Hormone-disrupting synthetics, some from plastics, others from hundreds of chemicals used to grow, treat and process our foods, have created a nation of twitch-riddled, food-allergic, cognitively-challenged hormone-disrupted future cancer patients.

Today, one is warned to step aside a beached orca or dolphin because of enormous quantities of bio-accumulated PCBs, methyl mercury and other hazardous compounds. Killer whales taped off with Haz-Mat tape? What has the world come to in 40 years?

Earth Day 2010 is about clean air, water, land, but also about understanding and planning for the inevitable forces put upon civilization as a result of Peak Oil and Climate Change. In 1970, before the oil embargo, I remember tooling around from Tucson to the Sea of Cortez for some wicked diving along fertile reefs (they aren’t fertile anymore). That was on 22 cents a gallon petrol. Those earlier moments in our country’s history, when crude gushed to the surface, are long gone, and now we are in a time when the energy required to find and extract a barrel of oil equals the energy contained in that barrel.

Maybe Earth Day 2010 will be about building monuments for coal miners in all 50 states since this country still gets half of its electricity from dirty coal-burning electricity power plants. The fight against Massey Energy on mountaintop removal is now shifted into a social justice battle as those 29 coal miners who recently perished in poorly maintained and safety-anemic Massey-run mines are a testament to the impact of the fossil fuel world we depend upon.

This celebration and gathering on Earth Day 2010 must be about acknowledging the science, continuing the uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of the American public, and believing the scientific reality that any concentration of carbon dioxide greater than 350 parts per million in the atmosphere is not compatible with maintenance of the biosphere on the “planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” NASA scientist and climate expert James Hansen repeatedly says it – we have to stop burning coal almost immediately – by 2020.

Many call for a post-carbon world where all human endeavors and systems are run on renewable energy and cities are compact or large and efficient.

The Number 350 is that magic digit many will be chanting as their mantra this Earth Day. Earth Day is about looking Obama in the face and getting him to change. It’s about considering farmers tending more than 93 million acres of corn and demanding an end to ethanol, an energy source that takes more energy to make than we get out of it. Earth Day is about stopping the sloughing off of millions of pounds of chemicals like Atrazine and nitrogen-based fertilizers sprayed for these so-called SUV fuel crops as cases of birth defects and miscarriages, plus cancers, rise each year in the so-called “corn-belt.”

Earth Day is about celebrating youth projects, giving students the curriculum and administrators to allow for truly innovative and worthy teaching. It’s about learning more from Jan Lundberg of California who hasn’t owned a car in 20 years and tore up his driveway and planted a garden. Chris Hedges, author of nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), is talking paradigm shift this Earth Day:

“The reason the ecosystem is dying is not because we still have a dryer in our basement. It is because corporations look at everything, from human beings to the natural environment, as exploitable commodities. Consumption is the engine of corporate profits. We have allowed the corporate state to sell the environmental crisis as a matter of personal choice when actually there is a need for profound social and economic reform. We are left powerless.”
While the Earth Day network, a loosely connected group of disparate organizations, works on green schools, recycling and waste reduction, sustainable development, water, energy, food and agriculture, climate change, conservation and biodiversity, and the green economy campaigns, it’s clear that we have to change the politics to make real change, and we have to undergo a massive restructuring of our education system.

Earth Day is about giving voice to thinkers with deeper analyses of the broken system, like Elizabeth Kolbert (“Field Notes from a Catastrophe”) and George Monbiot (“Heat”). In the end, no matter how much science-based information or wonky studies we have at our beck and call, Earth Day 2010 is about leading people into a decade of real change:

“We need to separate ourselves from the corporate government that is killing the planet,” said Derrick Jensen, author many books, including “The End Game.” “We need to get really serious. We are talking about life on the planet. We need to shut down the oil infrastructure. I don’t care, and the trees don’t care, if we do this through lawsuits, mass boycotts or sabotage.”

While most local Earth Day 2010 celebrations will be all about the soft sell of what it means to be on the planet, to be “stewards” of the “lower” species, and to reduce waste and pollution, the real work starting this Earth Day is to bring down the system that depends on protecting the corporate elites and those with power and money. Earth Day 2010is about community activism and community governance, whereby a social response is the only conduit to dealing with global heating.
The progress some have made in Spokane will be proudly displayed Saturday, April 17, 11 a.m. to midnight, on Main between Division and Browne, because of the work those people have done to save forests and fish and clean air and water.

“Earth Day 2010, Takin’ it to the Streets, Spokane!” is a gathering place for those working to give people in poverty voice and opportunities to share in the green movement.

Common citizens will see the green movement isn’t just concerned with dolphins, spotted owls and pine forests. We’re working on showing our citizenry how equity, education, and environment are keys to sustainability.

Earth Day is about beginning those conversations, sharing stories about the economics of sustainability, and how money should become a tool by which the community can make the change the Green Generation demands and deserves.

As the day unfolds and hundreds of photographs are taken, we still will have the following week to make our Spokane message clear. On April 24 more than a million people will be in Washington, D.C,. while our city’s photos are displayed on a 120-foot-by-60 foot JumboTron.

Earth Day 2010 is the beginning of a massive movement, starting one city at a time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Earth Day, Spokane, 2010 -- Fig Tree Article Focuses on the Street, Unusual Acitivites and the Reasons

Paul Haeder and Molly Callen on Main St., the venue for Earth Day 2010.


Spokane’s Earth Day ‘takes to the streets’ to reach people
Spokane’s 40th anniversary Earth Day celebration will be on Main St. downtown rather than on grass at Riverfront Park

Co-coordinators Paul Haeder, 53, a teacher, journalist and activist who came to Spokane in 2001, and Molly Callen, 24, a Spokane K-12 substitute teacher who grew up in Spokane, said they are “takin’ it to the streets” because urban life is expanding and because grass uses water, fertilizer and herbicides.

Molly was involved last year with a children’s activity, helping build 350 bird feeders and wanted to expand the educational component.

“I came to an early planning meeting. Few came, so I became a co-coordinator,” said Molly, who attended Spokane Falls Community College and graduated in 2008 from Eastern Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in reading and elementary education. “I want children to go home knowing they can grow their own food, plant flowers and make bird houses.”

Along with studies for a master’s in special education and her work substitute teaching, she has volunteered 30 hours a week for Earth Day planning.
read more, the rest, at:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

April 17 is set to be a BIG Day -- Mayor and County Commissioner declare April 17 Earth Day Spokane/Spokane County and April 17-24 Earth Day Week

Mayor Verner supports Earth Day

Jon Snyder supports days of Earth

Bonnie Mager supports urban planning for earth

Kohl's is a supporter of Earth Day in the form of 300 Bird Houses to be built and given away

Doug Bradford is a supporter of birds and bats -- he's helping Kohl's associates prep the bird boxes for kids

Kauffman and Associates is all about supporting the land, water and air of our Pacific Northwest

Spokane Aquifer Joint Board supports conservation of water

Resourceful suports recycling for Earth Day -- gives 5 recyclers and bags to Earth Day

Charlie Gurche supports Earth with photographs

Diamond Parking supports Earth Day with the use of two parking lots on Main, April 17

Food -- Isabella's, The Scoop, Flatbread Pizza Company, One World Spokane, Rocket Bakery

All the musicians and performers are set for Earth Day 2010

More than 6 dozen booths and demos and hands on displays and people galore "talking earth"

For more supporters and participants, go to the previous blog --


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Earth Day is About Stopping Corporate Take Over of Farms, Corporate Poisoning of Crops, Corporate Mutation of Life


Who's crushing family farmers?

In Farmers We Trust - Take Action


Dear Family Farm Supporter,

Did you know that just one company, Monsanto, controls more than 90%>> of the soybeans grown in the United States? And that they also control more than 80% of U.S. corn?

This extreme concentration of power is not unique to corn and soy. And it's a big problem --- not just for family farmers struggling to compete. Standing between you and the family farmer are a handful of corporations who control our entire food system from seed to plate.

Corporate concentration has many forms --- factory farms, the dairy>> crisis, genetically engineered food --- anything that puts the control of our food into the hands of a few companies and forces farmers out of business and off the land.

**Speak out now! Tell the government that you trust family farmers with your food!**

The issue of corporate concentration in agriculture is finally getting attention starting today with the first in a series of public workshops held by the Department of Justice and the US Department of Agriculture.

Farm Aid needs you to let Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack know that corporate concentration in agriculture is devastating for family farmers, bad for our health, and wrong for consumers like you and me!

This is an historic opportunity for farmers who have been marginalized by agribusiness giants. But it's just as important for all of us who eat (and who want to know who is controlling our food!). This is your chance to join family farmers in telling the government what is wrong with corporate concentration. The government needs to hear from people like you, people who trust the farmers who grow our food --- not corporations facing anti-trust investigation.

Please, take a moment right now to tell Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack how corporate control has created a food system that lines the pockets of a handful of companies while bankrupting family farmers and leaving the rest of us hungry for change.

Thanks so much for taking action today. We'll keep you updated on how things are going with the workshops and let you know more you can do in the coming weeks and months.

Hilde Steffey
Program Director, Farm Aid

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spokane Earth Day is coming on STRONG

March 20
7 pm
Community Building
Sequel to Planet Earth

This March 20, come to the Community Building and get a sneak peak at the movie, Life.

Part of pre-EARTH DAY SPOKANE: Which is April 17, 11-midnight, and all the information can be gathered on Facebook

(and) www.earthdayspokane.org and the blog, http://earthdayspokane2010.blogspot.com

added FUN -- Potluck, vegan o' vegetarian,
Sierra Club's premiere sneak peak at the sequel to Planet Earth --
RSVP here, or paulha@spokanefalls.edu

MARCH 20, 7 p.m., Community Building -- potluck -- RSVP

What is the meaning of LIFE? Glad you asked. It's the Discovery Channel's follow-up to the wildly popular Planet Earth series. If you're interested in the spectacular, bizarre, and fascinating behaviors that creatures like fruit bats, Komodo dragons, and humpback whales have evolved in order to thrive, then you'll love this show -- narrated by Oprah Winfrey -- when it premieres later this month.

Want to be one of the first to see what LIFE has to offer? To help raise awareness of the need to protect all species and their habitat from the effects of climate change, the Sierra Club and Discovery Channel are teaming up to organize House Parties for WildLIFE in advance of the premiere