The 1960’s and 1970’s completely changed my entire life focus from ordinary to purposeful grassroots. During the 1950’s I was just a child growing up and exploring who I was but neglected to think about how I fit into the rest of the world. I knew I was the happiest outside in nature but took the beauty of nature for granted. But abruptly at young age of 9 I witnessed the damage being done to my home town. I then began to notice human’s changing my surroundings. One example was that our family home was on a brick street and we had wonderful old trees and large grassy areas to play that I loved deeply. One morning in the early spring of 1955, I was awoken by what sounded like a “war” outside. I bolted out of bed, threw on an old housecoat of my mother’s, ran down our stairs and out to the street in front of our home.
The horrid noises coming from our brick street in front of our home were men destroying everything in site.
When I got outside I was also overwhelmed with the wretched smell of what I learned was “tar” which was replacing our brick street. The workmen screamed for me to “get the h… away or they would run me over”. For the very first time in my life I was so angry that I began to “spit” at the workmen to get them away from the bricks on our street. I remember screaming so hard that I felt sick in my stomach. My brothers and neighbors kept picking me up and putting me on the porch swing. But I was so upset that no one could hold me back -even though I was very small with a tiny body and limited vision. Finally, I realized that those workmen were “doing the job they were told to do.” but what kind of worker would tear up my brick street, and make our street smelly and ugly. My street, our yard, my dialy life, and in fact my world as I knew it from my birth disappeared that day.
I continued screamingand throwing dirt at the workmen, picking up our home street bricks and piling them in my wagon, and nobody stopped me- they just ignored my tears, our bricks, and me. The city workmen moved gradually down our street so I waited for them to stop putting the hot tar down. Then I ran into our street and put two of our bricks down in the tar and dared them to move them because I was holding my water hose ready to spray them. They just laughed at me. I had written in chalk our family names and stuck our bricks down in the tar and jumped on them to keep them in place. After a few minutes some of my friends also picked up our bricks and stuck them in the tar and jumped on them. Then grownups began to brick up more bricks and help us protect and save our brick street. After what seemed hours the police came and told us we would go to jail if we continued to interfer with the workers who were “just doing their jobs” for “progress. What kind of job of progress is it to dig out our old wonderful brick street and make a smelly ugly paved street for progress. My heart actually hurt over the loss of our beloved brick street.
I did not realize that the sadness I felt over loosing our brick street was the first grassroots effort of my young life that would boost me into being an advocate and activist for the rest of my life. Throughout the 1960’s I began to educate myself about the world around me and how I could help stop the false progress of destroying nature and other parts of our world that other’s loved. I gained a new awareness not just of our brick street being destroyed but how our old oak trees, grassy play areas, and dirt alley were disappearing forever. They were being replaced by what I now call asphalt. I began to go outside each day, in whatever neighorhood I lived in, and pick up trash in the streets and play areas so at least some beauty could still be found. I began to plant flowers, pull up weeds, and stopped yelling at workers and instead began to find ways to heal by changing the ways I hurt the earth and environment. I also began a rock and brick collection of which I still continue to this day.
During the 1960’s I became an advocate not only for humans but for Mother Nature doing what I could to make our world a better place by learning about nature. Examples are natural gardening, recycling, and protesting against chemicals and tearing down historical homes, and respecting Mother Nature. I changed how I lived my life to how I thought Mother Nature and whatever spiritual guides brought humans to take care of our earth. In the late 1960’s, as a married woman with children, I also began to educate myself about food, clean air, and materials could give my children a healthier and happier environment to take care forever.
I was attending college in the 60’s and 70’s as a business and psychology major when I noticed that more and postings on bulletin boards began to be available about love, peace, protecting nature and saving our earth’s environment. I never felt alone again. I was so thrilled on April 22nd, 1970 to attend my first Earth Day Celebration where we cleaned out old abandoned houses and yards. We planted beautiful flowers, safely got rid of weeds, recyled trash into artwork, and finally got our voices heard.
I celebrate 2011 Earth Day each day and deeply thank Senator Gaylord Nelson and all those who helped me change from an angry “brick street child” to an advocate. Sincere thanks to all who gave us the gift of voices that finally healed my pain from childhood when my brick street was destroyed and was replaced by ugly tar pavement. I salute all the environmentalist from the Health Dept’s, the activiist, adocates, and grassroots humans who give us a better life everyday. What are you learning and doing to celebrate Earth Day 2011?
I have two natural vegetable gardens in our backyard that I love dearly and I continue to make natural artwork out of recycled trash. May we all always cherish our earth and environment together. Dear Mothe Nature may you bless us all with positive ways to celebrate and honor Earth Day.