A Bit of Earth Day History from EarthDay.org
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Gaylord Nelson, from Wisconsin, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995)—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder. (More info and full article on EarthDay.org)
In 2014, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) asked beloved Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh to write a brief statement about climate change and our relationship to one another and to the Earth. You can read his letter here. Or watch this video below and hear one of his students read it.
Some Earth-Focused Sanghas
- One Earth Sangha was founded in 2013 from the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC. One Earth Sangha’s mission is to “bring the essential wisdom and practices from the Buddhist tradition to collective engagement on critical ecological crises.” They work in partnership with many other faith organizations.
- Earth Holders Sangha comes from the Plum Village Community (the Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh). Their goal is to bring “mindfulness, compassion, healing and nonviolence to protecting each other, all beings and the Earth.”
- Buddhist Climate Action Network draws together “Buddhists (and friends) from all traditions to take collective action on global, human-caused climate disruption.”
- Green Faith consists of people from all different religious backgrounds “to help them become better environmental stewards.”
- Global Buddhist Climate Change Collective (GBCCC) is an initiative of Green Faith and unites representatives from the many other Buddhist Eco organizations.
Ways to Learn More
- Online EcoSattva training from One Earth Sangha.
- Join the Awakening to Climate Emergency Webinar
- Check out the resources compiled by Metta Earth Center for Contemplative Ecology.
- Natural Dharma Fellowship is forming an EcoSattva Council to discuss collaborative action.
- The GBCCC has a wonderful suggested reading list for Eco Buddhism.
- From LionsRoar, read what lessons are learned when a sangha adopts a stretch of road in Pennsylvania to clean-up trash.