This month marks the 50th anniversary of Earth
Day. Typically, people all over world come together on April 22 in celebration,
action, and activism on behalf of improving and protecting our natural
resources and making the world a better place. Earth Day will feel very
different this year. But the underlying motivation that connects us on
Earth Day—improving the lives of people and the planet—is stronger than
Twenty million people across the globe came together to
celebrate the first Earth Day in 1970, the year after we got our first glimpse
of our home from outer space. That vision changed the way many people thought
about this beautiful planet we all share and launched the beginning of many
environmental accomplishments. The Environmental Protection Agency was created
later that same year, and Earth Day is also largely credited with marshalling
public support for the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the
Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws. Another fun fact: Seattle
resident Denis Hayes was one of the original founders of Earth Day! You can
learn more about the history of
Earth Day here.
Earth Day is an excellent example of the power of grassroots
support and organizing. As we are now moving into the second month of the COVID-19
response many of us are thinking about what our city will look like when we
emerge from this crisis. We have an immense opportunity to tap into the same
collective energy and focus that made Earth Day so successful and use it to transform
our community for the better. Working together, we can grow and amplify the
community support and goodwill that has risen during this crisis while
addressing the deep and systemic racial inequities that resulted in so many of
our neighbors being so vulnerable at this time.
During this “Earth Month”, we invite all Seattleites to take
action to protect and improve our environment. There are countless things you
can be doing as an individual or as a family—even during this time of physical
isolation—that will have notable impact. We’ll be sharing suggestions
throughout this month how we can continue to work together for the good of our
We are also challenging ourselves to think through how we
can use this disruption to commit to the systematic change needed in order to reduce
the profound racial and environmental inequities that still exist in our
communities and invite you to do the same. We welcome your thoughts on how we
create a new path forward.
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