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News and Resources

Let your inner environmentalist speak out - April 12, 2012

In 1969, five months before the first Earth Day, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the astonishing proliferation of environmental events.

"Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam. A national day of observance of environmental problems is being planned for next spring when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in' ... is planned," Hill reported.

It is estimated that 20 million people took to the streets, vastly exceeding even the most optimistic expectations. Republicans, Democrats, school children, college students, labor unions, housewives, doctors, religious leaders, bankers, retirees, farmers and everyone in between participated in thousands of marches, rallies, parades, protests and other happenings.

In an interview with Sen. Gaylord Nelson in 1993, he stated it was obvious that the first Earth Day was headed for a spectacular success. It was also obvious that grassroots activities had ballooned beyond the capacity of his U.S. Senate office staff to keep up with the telephone calls, paperwork, inquiries, etc. In mid-January, three months before Earth Day, John Gardner, founder of Common Cause, provided temporary space for a Washington, D.C., headquarters, which Nelson staffed with college students.

The first Earth Day was deemed a blazing success. The event was front-page news almost everywhere, and coverage was overwhelmingly positive. The event cemented in people's minds the importance of environmental issues.

Seven months following the first Earth Day, President Richard Nixon and Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency in response to the growing public demand for cleaner water, air and land. The EPA was tasked with the challenging goal of repairing the damage already done to the environment and to establish guidelines to help Americans make a cleaner and safer environment a reality.

Nelson felt Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level.

Forty-two years later, grassroots efforts to keep environmental awareness in the forefront continually evolve. The Maryland Coastal Bays Program is a nonprofit partially funded by the EPA whose purpose is to protect the bays behind Ocean City and Assateague Island. Every year this program works to engage the community.

For those whose inner environmentalist speaks loudest on April 14, MCBP, OC Surfriders and the town of Ocean City encourage you to spend the morning picking up trash. Form a team or come by yourself. You can register by calling 410-213-2297 or email sandis@mdcoastalbays.org.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. in the City Hall parking lot. Participants will be given an assigned clean-up area, gloves, trash bags, and a free Earth Day T-shirt. As a team, or individually, you'll feel great knowing that you've helped keep our coastal waterways clean in honor of Earth Day. A team can range from 1 person to 24 people.

If you can't be there to help with this event, why not make a donation? As a $50 Earth Day supporter, you'll be mentioned in all of the Earth Day credits and have your information or coupons distributed at the event. As a $200 Earth Day sponsor, you can have your logo put on our Earth Day T-shirts, which are designed by one of our local artists.

We hope you can join our community this Earth Day to help clean up Ocean City. The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day.

For more information about this event, creating a team, or becoming a supporter or sponsor, visit www.mdcoastalbays.com or call the Maryland Coastal Bay Program's office at 410-213-2297. Check the OceanCity.com Going Green Guide for more eco-friendly events and information.

Davonte Taylor is an intern with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.


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