Earth Day Vigil is a wake-up call to care for and heal Planet Earth
The Earth Day Vigil drew about 100 participants who sang, read reflections, shared resources, offered prayers and challenged each other to help heal the earth.
One felt sad that few people gathered on Earth Day. It was a 5:15 p.m., Monday event, not something traditional.
We forget the power generated when two or three gather. We forget the power of prayer. We forget the need to renew our commitment. We forget the power of encounters that happened at The Gathering Place beside the Spokane River. We forget the power of all that the people gathered there are doing day-to-day.
Carol Evans, the first woman chair of the Spokane Tribe, reminded that the environment, land, air and water are gifts given to us, not ours to own and destroy, but to take care of for future generations.
Deb Abrahamson, a witness to perseverance, told of returning from retirement when the Newmont Mine decided to step back from cleanup promises. She and her nine siblings used to swim in the lakes and creeks that are now polluted with radiation.
Barbara Miller of the Silver Valley Resource Center reminds us we are at the epicenter of the nation's largest Superfund site and are called to be stewards of the earth. She has worked for cleanup for three decades, fighting for quality of life for the children.
Phyllis Kardos said that at 77 she stepped out of retirement for her children, grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren to be an activist in opposing what is proposed to be the largest silicon smelter in North America in her back yard at Newport. For 22 years in Alaska, she saw areas that were clean and pristine, but now the areas are being over-fished and over-hunted. We need to fight corporations and governments that do not protect the environment, she said.
Hana Reinhardt, a leader with the Spokane Youth Strike for the Environment, said the Earth is sick because of human ignorance, arrogance and greed. She called for everyone to work together to heal the planet—young and old, poor and rich, all languages and all colors, adding: "No one can do this alone." Youth are striking for the Green New Deal, a halt to fossil fuel infrastructure, government decisions to be tied to research and 100 percent renewable energy.
Several groups shared what they do:
• Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho works to overcome racism, militarism, poverty and ecological devastation. Last June they began working on the vigil to draw attention to the fact that we live on the largest Superfund site in the nation.
• Responsible Growth Northeast Washington works to stop the proposed silicon smelter in Newport and develop the economy in responsible ways that protect forests, agriculture and open spaces.
• The Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, with Spokane Ponderosa and the Lands Council, will water 5,000 newly planted seedlings on the North-South Corridor. They have adopted a tract of 200 trees, as part of the national church's Creation Care Challenge. In April, 20 from the cathedral and Temple Beth Shalom partnered with the Spokane Soil Conservation District to plant 200 birch, red osier dogwoods, grand fir, elderberry and aspen trees at 8th and Havana, a former gravel quarry in the early stages of restoration to its natural state.
• One Peace Many Paths promotes diversity, compassion, understanding, cooperation and peace to benefit all, including Mother Earth. It sponsors the Spokane Compassion Games three to four times a year to engage participants in acts of kindness.
• Since 1892, the Sierra Club has helped people enjoy, explore and protect the planet's resources, promoting equity and justice in securing a healthy world. The Upper Columbia River Group has worked since 1968 for clean, naturally flowing rivers and aquifers, water conservation, cross-border collaboration on dams, preserving wilderness, cleaning up toxic mining wastes, and conducting outings and hikes for education and enjoyment.
• In 2017, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia proclaimed their corporate national stand on environment with commitment to ecological education and challenge to space junk, air pollution, commercialization of and toxic waste in water, greed and addictive attitudes. They call for treating all creation as brother and sister, exercising responsible stewardship, and sheltering those affected by global warming.
• The Silver Valley Community Resource Center has worked 30 years to restore the environment in the U.S.'s largest Superfund site, educating families on lead exposure, creating the Children Run Better Unleaded project, securing cleanup jobs, establishing the Community Lead Health Clinic/Center, and gathering signatures opposing storing toxic waste at the Cataldo Mission.
• For 35 years, The Fig Tree and its Resource Directory have connected people, shared stories of people making a difference in addressing justice and ethics issues, and offered dialogue to foster understanding, networking groups and individuals to share resources and join in action to heal the earth. Environment is consistently a workshop topic at the Eastern Washington Legislative Conference.
The 2019 Earth Day Vigil, "Heal the Earth," was an opportunity for awakening, for pledging to do action, for signing up with groups that came, and for sharing with others to help wake them up, to keep vigilant. Next fall there will be a second vigil from 3 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Cataldo Mission in Idaho. The plan is to hold an event for healing the Earth every six months.
Mary Stamp - Editor
EDITORS NOTE: Instead of an doing anniversary issue retelling The Fig Tree story, we have shared several stories that show how The Fig Tree partners and intersects with other programs and agencies.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, Mzy, 2019