If Earth Day snuck up on you or passed you by (it was Wednesday), don’t feel bad. The same thing happened to me last year. I imagine it happens to a lot of people, even people who care deeply about the environment. In fact, I was at an earth activist conference a couple weeks ago, and one of the speakers had to ask the audience (in a somewhat chagrined fashion) when Earth Day was. Well, if this is you, not to worry, because today is Arbor Day. It’s like Earth Day for procrastinators.
Here are five things you can do today if you missed Earth Day:
1. Order a Tree from the Arbor Tree Foundation.
You likely can’t plant a tree for Arbor Day, because if you’re procrastinator, then you neither bought a tree to plant, nor found a place to plant it. But one thing you can do is start the process for planting some trees later. For a $10 membership, the Arbor Tree Foundation will send you 10 tree saplings that are native to your area. While you’re waiting for your trees to arrive, decide where to plant them. If it won’t be on your own property, consider planting on city property. You will need to do a little research to find out what municipal department is in charge of planting and caring for city trees, and then ask that department who is responsible for the identified area and what process must be followed to receive permission to plant a tree there. There’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty, and planting a tree is an oldie, but a classic way to celebrate Earth Day/Arbor Day.
Of course, I’m assuming you’ve already signed the statement at ecopagan.com. If you haven’t, no worries, go ahead and sign it now. And then share the Statement on Facebook (there’s a convenient little button at the top of the page) and by email to all you Pagan and Pagan-friendly friends, so they can sign it too. Hundreds of people have already signed since the statement was published just a couple of days ago on Earth Day. Put your name next to those of Starhawk, Selena Fox, Oberon Zell, Rev. Patrick McCollum, Andras Corban-Arthen, Rev. Kirk Thomas, and many, many more. And you can also sign on behalf of a group or organization. Groups that have already signed include Cherry Hill Seminary, the Pagan Federation, Circle Sanctuary, Earth Spirit Community, Ár nDríaocht Féin (ADF), Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Feraferia, and the Fellowship of Isis.
3. Plan a community Arbor Tree celebration for next year.
I had a remarkably difficulty time finding local information about tree planting on Arbor Day. I live near the third largest city in the country, and there were no tree planting celebrations that I could find. And the official Arbor Day websites offered virtually no help finding out how to legally plant trees on public property. Even my state’s DNR site was not much help. So if no one else is doing, then that means we have to do it. It wouldn’t take much to organize a local tree planting celebration for next year. And we can start now. Work together with your state’s DNR or the appropriate municipal department. Invite some grade school classes or your UU church to help. Make it happen.
4. Answer one question on Chas Clifton’s “Where Are You At” survey.We Pagans often talk about connecting with nature, but we are sometimes woefully ignorant about the very places where we live. In his essay, “Nature Religion for Real”, Chas Clifton writes:
“If you would practice ‘nature religion’ or ‘earth-centered spirituality,’ learn where you are on the earth and learn the songs of that place, the song of water and the song of wind. Yes, Western science is flawed, but it is our way of knowing, so take what it offers: its taxonomy, its lists, its naming. Start there–then build a richer spirituality from that point. When you understand something about the relationship of the fire and the forest, the river and the willow grove, or the accidental history of the tumbleweed, then you begin to inhabit where you are; then you are paganus.”
Chas offers 20 questions for finding out where you are at. Take one that you don’t already know the answer to and do some research. Learn where you are at.
5. Grieve for the Earth, but resist despair.
As we learn more about our ecological crisis, it’s natural to feel grief. Don’t ignore or repress your feelings. Feel what you feel. Your grief is the Earth’s own suffering. But also, don’t despair.
“… This future I do not accept it,
because a error does not become a mistake,
until you refuse to correct it,
we can redirect this, how?
Let me suggest that if a farmer sees a tree that is unhealthy,
they don’t look at the branches to diagnosis it,
they look at the root, so like that farmer,
we must look at the root,
and not to the branches of the government,not to the politicians runs by corporations
we are the root, we are the foundation, this generation,
it is up to us to take care of this planet.
it is our only home, we must globally warm our hearts
and change the climate of our souls
and realize that we are not apart from nature,
we are a part of nature.
and to betray nature is to betray us,
to save nature, is to save us,
because whatever you’re fighting for,
Racism, poverty, feminism, gay rights,
or any type of equality.
it won’t matter in the least,
because if we don’t all work together to save the environment,
we will be equally extinct.”
— Prince Ea