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 ever.
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 community.
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.