What I Learned on Earth Day

As a Sierra Club intern, I can take some pride in saying I helped the City of Austin’s Earth Day event happen. My fellow interns and I worked for weeks coordinating an aerial photo, planning our petitioning strategy, and preparing our main booth. While we take pride in our own work, the feeling at the end of the day on Sunday was more than just personal accomplishment. It was pride in a larger thing. Pride that Austin cares enough to set up an all-day party, complete with inspiring speakers, great food, and beautiful music. Pride that people can come together through their love of nature. Pride that no matter how far we’ve come as a society, we will still always push to accomplish new things.

Our Beyond Coal Aerial Photo at Mueller Neighborhood Park

It is this ability of humans to band together, to accomplish things greater than themselves, that is our greatest asset. Too often I see would-be environmentalists or activists of any kind get discouraged by their own limitations. No one person can even begin to solve the immense and ever mounting problems facing the human race. And yet it is exactly this that the discouraged socially conscious individual wants: The status quo is so upsetting that they must alter it. Another derivation of this hopelessness occurs when one believes that the group enacting change is too small to do so. I always hear, “Well so what if a couple people: drive electric cars/recycle/petition for x, y, or z, it won’t make a difference…”
We must fall back on faith in teamwork and strengthening our team. I couldn’t have put on any sort of Earth Day Festival myself, but the impassioned commitment of hundreds of helping hands succeeded in making quite a spectacle. Any one who wants to see change in the world must take solace in the fact that others share their vision. When passion and desire are shared, humans can finally meet their ambitions.
The goal of the environmental movement now must be to make their passion infectious. To help people translate the emotions childhood memories of playing outdoors evoke into modern empathy for the Earth as an ecosystem. To unite society in awareness and respect for the environment and then harness that energy. I’d rather ask not what’s in the scope of my power, but how many people do I need to do what needs to be done.

Chris Jaynes,
Intern with the Lonestar Chapter

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