Skip to main content

On Earth Day and as the traditional nursery rhyme about April showers and May flowers perhaps come to mind, there is an invitation to greet this time of year with a sense of hope for renewal. My own long experience with home gardening finds me devoting more mind space to envisioning growth possibilities, and finding my way outside more frequently to note the increased singing of birds and interactions with neighbors. Such simple, positive associations ought to be the norm - the measure of the season across places and generations.

Yet greed and short-term thinking conspire to unsettle the Earth herself, alongside our mental health, sense of security and hopeful well-being. Climate change has become the climate crisis, biodiversity loss has become the biodiversity crisis, and still too many of our leaders are failing to press for the bold, transformative policies required at this critical moment. When decision-makers lack the fortitude to stand up to the polluters for profit, then our collective ability to repair the damage is also put at risk. In Michigan such failure to meet the moment is perhaps most clearly exemplified by the ongoing, constant threat of a Line 5 oil spill. As residents of Michigan, we deserve to be in a position where we are championing and supporting representatives and leaders who are unified in protecting our precious natural inheritance, the Great Lakes. Instead, too many politicians and candidates remain silent on the issue. We are left to worry about the rupture of 71-year-old Canadian infrastructure, and think in dismay about a flawed Tunnel project being approved to wreak further havoc on the public trust waters that we and all other species depend upon. To course correct and remove the clear and present danger of Line 5, will again require the power of the people.  

We need to stand strong and insist that the public trust and human right of clean, drinkable water is more important than the business-as-usual prioritization of the fossil fuel economy. The convenience of these industry giants can no longer take precedence over the health of our communities. We must stand united and reject the false binary of environment vs. jobs that is used as an excuse for inadequacy and inaction. Union labor and construction jobs can readily be tailored towards decommissioning dangerous and outmoded extractive infrastructure; pipe fitters can restore clean water infrastructure to Flint and everywhere else; people can be employed to restore rivers and ecosystems - all while assuring that the livelihoods related to billions of dollars in tourism and fishing are no longer at the mercy of an imminent despoilment of the water for the sake of providing a shortcut for Enbridge.

Appreciation of the living world, and the inheritance of a sweet breeze and nourishing rain, are the worthy goals that should rightly ground decision-making, especially among elected leaders who claim to be motivated by the best interests of a wide and inclusive community. It is sometimes difficult to hold to the truth that the seeds we sow and save are important. To trust that, in their own way, the carefully tended sprouts hold power to rival that of the military-industrial complex, the polluter-industrial complex, and the fossil fuel industry that lurks at the foundations of so much harm. But that is exactly what we must trust one another to accomplish. To restore the hope and promise of Spring, to remove the threat and reject the poison, so we can together find our way back to renewal, reciprocity, and responsibility.