Friday, April 22, 2016

Eco Worrier ---- or Eco Warrior?

Happy Earth Day!

Forty-six years ago, my high school biology teacher Mr. Randall gave an impassioned speech about the need to save our planet. I remember being shocked that he departed from the lesson plans. Way back then, we were concerned about DDT and oil spills. But I don't remember feeling like I should do anything; I was just a teenager. In those days, we weren't even being asked to recycle.

Now we are all aware that the climate is changing. Temperatures are increasing. There are deep droughts in many parts of the world and floods in others. There is more wind––and I don't just mean people's speeches! I feel it, when I fly in a jet, when I sit in my living room, and especially when I stand on the beach.

Today 175 leaders from countries all around the world are signing the Paris Agreement on climate change. That is an amazing and necessary step. The problems are so complex that we need everyone to work toward implementing solutions. We need to think globally and act locally.

But what does that mean in real terms? We need to be aware that we share this planet. What happens in Las Vegas doesn't stay in Las Vegas. What happens in any corner of the world will effect us all––eventually. That last word is really the problem. We don't know exactly when or how. We can only imagine.

I'm pretty good at imagining. For the past decade, I've been an Eco-worrier. I didn't think that people were doing enough. Then I realized that I was worrying because I knew I wasn't doing enough. Yes, I was following the three R's -- reduce, re-use, recycle. But I could do more. I want to do more. And so today I begin.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Optimist Club

Last week I had the honor of speaking to the local chapter of the Optimist Club.

I admit that, when I first received the invitation, I was a little dubious. Who was this group? What would I say? This political season had brought out my cynicism. Could I be positive about anything--especially since they held their meetings at 7:30 in the morning, when I'm at my grumpiest. (Sometimes I joke that I became I writer so that I wouldn't have to talk to anyone early in the day.) But this year my resolution is to say yes, and so I agreed.

It was a cold and rainy morning. Winter has been hanging on here. Believing that spring will come shouldn't require optimism. And yet it did. I was feeling woefully unprepared. The meeting was in progress when I entered and sat down at a table.

"Is that little Janey Kelley?" I was greeted by a lovely woman who used to be my neighbor many decades ago in a magical place called Fairy Chasm.

Kay Freyer and I at the meeting.

I certainly am the girl who loved being in the woods because they inspired so many stories. But that girl hadn't believe that those dreams could become reality.

I spoke to the group about my writing and my latest book about Mary Jemison, who overcame so many adversities. Then someone asked  what I hoped readers would glean from my books. I told them that I wanted readers to believe in the importance of nature and the power of persistence. 

At the end of the meeting, I was given this wonderful plaque. I hope you can read what it says. In particular, the last sentence really struck a chord with me. 

"To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble."

I would be happy to take this pledge every week. The Optimist Club is part of an international group who do good work in many important areas. They sponsor sports teams, promote all kinds of health and safety, and provide scholarships. This link has more information about them.

Their motto is Bringing Out the Best in Kids. I'd like to think that's what I do too.

If only they didn't meet at 7:30 in the morning!