By Erin Crowell
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb
On April 24, Northern Michigan residents will take to the streets of Traverse City for the Earth Day Parade. The route begins at Central Grade School at 1 p.m. and will continue on Seventh Street to Eighth, then on to State Street, ending at Park Street.
The Earth Day Parade is coordinated by Penny Krebiehl, founder of Little Artshram a non-profit community of artists, musicians and environmentalists committed to learning, celebrating and co-creating with area youth and their families in the Grand Traverse region.
Weve always had a large caring environmental community, says Krebiehl, and I think the net is reorganizing itself in a much needed way. There is still a little bit of work to be done as far as pulling people into the same agenda.
For me, Earth Day is that. I did a mentoring program in Minneapolis before I moved to the area where people would come together and talk about what they were concerned about, as far as the environment goes. Their May Day Parade focused on those concerns, so when I moved to Northern Michigan, I thought, this is the way we can get kids involved with the environment.
Today, the Earth Day Parade encourages children, adults and families to express their concerns through story-telling. Each year, the parade has a unique theme. This years is pedal power.
Preparation starts four months in advance, with area schools helping with decorations and costumes. Weve worked with a variety of kids in the five-county area, says Krebiehl.
Earth Day was born from a political demonstration. Its parent was the Vietnam War teach-ins during the late 1960s, where college students across the nation expressed their discontent with the governments handling of foreign affairs.
Earth Day began in much the same way, with the announcement of a grassroots demonstration that would happen during the spring of 1970. However, this demonstration would be about the war on planet Earth and the apparent lack of effort on behalf of politicians to do anything about it.
Its founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson, announced the idea at a Seattle conference in 1969 and word quickly spread. Before the first Earth Day, millions of people were already abuzz with excitement.
In an article posted on wilderness.org, Nelson wrote:
The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air - and they did so with spectacular exuberance Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.
Nelson passed away in July 2005 at the age of 89, but his vision continues, thanks to events such as the Earth Day Parade.
Krebiehl says, For me, Earth Day is about growth how were taking care of ourselves, our community, all species not just recycle, reuse. I feel the greatest costume I can wear is of myself.
For information on how to volunteer for next years parade, call Penny Krebiehl at 231-510-3491. More information on the Earth Day Parade, as well as Little Artshram, can be found at www.littleartshram.org.